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US Warns About Potential Flight Delays Due To 5G Interference

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg issued a statement on Friday warning about potential flight delays this summer due to 5G interferences in airports. He advised airlines to reschedule flights starting from July 1 for planes that have not yet updated their radio altimeters to handle possible 5G C-Band interference.

According to Reuters, Buttigieg expressed concern in a letter to Airlines for America. He stated that there are still a significant number of aircraft awaiting retrofit, including many operated by foreign air carriers. Despite more than 80 percent of the domestic fleet servicing U.S. airports having been upgraded, this situation increases the potential for flight delays and cancellations during adverse weather conditions and low visibility.

Some overseas airlines temporarily halted flights into and out of U.S. airports, due to fears that 5G coverage could interfere with airplane altimeters. These altimeters are crucial for providing data on an aircraft’s height above the ground, especially during challenging weather conditions.

The Air Transport Association says that airlines are making efforts to update altimeters. However, global supply chains are struggling to meet the current demand, according to Reuters. Despite these challenges, Air Transport Association members carriers remain confident in their ability to maintain schedule integrity, even with the approaching deadline.

Frequent warnings from international shipping companies have raised awareness about the impending deadline.

Updated Equipment to Avoid Flight Delays

Verizon and AT&T voluntarily delayed partial C-Band 5G usage until July last year in response to ongoing aircraft altimeter modifications.

Buttigieg emphasized that carriers should consider the number of aircrafts that still need retrofitting when setting and adjusting schedules to avoid causing inconvenience to consumers who rely on published schedules.

On Friday, Delta Air Lines announced that its supplier would not be able to provide enough radio altimeters for the complete Delta fleet by July 1. This affects all A220s, the majority of A319s and A320s, and some A321s. Delta Air Lines previously announced that it equipped new radio altimeters before July 1 in all its wide-body planes.

Major U.S. wireless providers reportedly agreed in March to take voluntary actions to address aviation safety concerns. After extensive negotiations with the Federal Aviation Administration, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US, and US cellular reached an agreement that allows them to increase their power and utilize the entire C-Band spectrum starting from July 1, Reuters reported.

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