As the deadline for the deployment of 5G technology comes closer, airlines in the US are preparing for unexpected flight delays. According to a report, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg issued a warning on Friday on probable delays and cancellations for flights departing before radio altimeters have been upgraded to account for potential 5G C-Band interference.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) believes that radio wave emitters used by passenger jets to calculate their distance from the ground, which pilots rely on when landing in bad visibility, may be affected by 5G C-band emissions.
Airline passenger jets won’t be permitted to land in certain low-visibility conditions unless they have been authorized for operation around C-band 5G signals by July 1st, even though airlines aren’t technically obligated to install the new equipment until February 2024.
His warning comes just before July 1 when AT&T, Verizon, and other carriers will be free to increase the strength of their 5G signals. More than 80% of the domestic fleet that serves U.S. airports, according to Mr. Buttigieg, has undergone a refit, but there are still “a significant number of aircraft still awaiting retrofit, including many operated by foreign air carriers.”
According to American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Frontier Airlines, all of their aircraft have been retrofitted, and they don’t anticipate any issues. JetBlue and Delta are two airlines that have claimed that not all of their aircraft have received updates. Around 190 of Delta Air Lines’ fleet of more than 900 planes do not yet have updated radio altimeters, the airline said.
In the meantime, a number of airlines have complained to the government that supply-chain issues are making it difficult for them to obtain the tools needed to refit planes.