Air travel chaos looms as US keeps 5G altimeter refit deadline

Despite worries that the deadline would disrupt travel, the US will not extend a requirement for airlines to retrofit planes with new sensors to handle potential 5G interference.

According to Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, airlines were informed that the deadline of July 1 would remain in effect.

Air travel chaos looms as US keeps 5G altimeter refit deadline

Airlines have issued a warning that they won’t be able to fulfil the deadline and might have to halt some aircraft.

Prior until now, telecom companies had postponed the launch of 5G to give airlines time to adjust.

The radio frequencies utilised for 5G in the US are in the C-Band region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aviation businesses have already expressed worry that 5G wireless operating in the C-Band frequency could interfere with aircraft altimeters, which gauge a plane’s height above the ground.

According to the Reuters news agency, Mr. Buttigieg instructed airline businesses to work quickly to refit their planes before the deadline in a call with them on Tuesday.

In order to give airlines enough time to modify their altimeters, major tech companies including Verizon and AT&T agreed last year to postpone the launch of 5G technology until July 1, 2023.

The choice was made following a number of delays.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association that represents more than 100 US-based airlines, has stated that the decision not to extend the deadline increases the likelihood of problems during the summer.

The agency stated on Tuesday that “supply chain issues make it unlikely that all aircraft can be upgraded by the 1 July deadline, threatening operational disruptions during the peak northern summer travel season,” adding that the projected cost to upgrade aircraft is $638 million (£511 million).

Air travel chaos looms as US keeps 5G altimeter refit deadline

Why your new phone could disrupt flights and ground planes

Airlines have previously stated that “the approximately two miles of airport runways at affected airports as defined by the FAA” should be exempt from 5G transmissions.

To deploy 5G technology, phone companies have spent tens of billions modernising their networks. According to them, this would result in much quicker internet services and more connectivity.

Technology firms have said that 5G is secure and charged the aviation sector with spreading false information and inciting panic.

The potential of interference is reduced in the EU since networks there operate at lower frequencies than those that US operators intend to employ. Additionally, 5G masts have a lower power range.

Nevertheless, some nations have taken additional measures to lower potential risks.

In France, there are so-called “buffer zones” around airports where 5G signals are restricted, while antennas have to be tilted downwards to prevent potential interference.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said “there have been no confirmed instances where 5G interference has resulted in aircraft system malfunction or unexpected behaviour”.

But it has stressed that “different national mobile telecommunication strategies may mean that some [countries] have a higher threat exposure than others

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