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News Article

Boeing, Airbus Urge to Delay 5G Service Over Safety Concerns

By Antonio Gozain | Tue, 12/21/2021 - 17:48

CEOs from leading planemakers Boeing and Airbus Americas urged the US government to delay its planned development of new 5G wireless services, arguing that it could harm aviation safety, reported Reuters.

Dave Calhoun, CEO, Boeing, and Jeffrey Knittel, CEO, Airbus Americas, asked through a joint letter US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to support the postponement of AT&T and Verizon’s deployment of C-Band spectrum 5G wireless, scheduled for Jan. 5, 2022. The letter argued that "5G interference could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate," leading to "an enormous negative impact on the aviation industry."

The joint letter included an analysis from trade group Airlines for America, which stated that if the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 5G directive had been in effect in 2019, around 345,000 passenger flights and 5,400 cargo flights would have faced delays, diversions or cancellations.

The arrival of 5G networks across the world is raising diverse concerns. While the aviation industry and the FAA have raised awareness about potential interference of 5G with sensitive aircraft electronics, the expansion of this technology to Southeast Asia worries automotive industry leaders, including those in Mexico. Southeast Asia is expected to host half of the world’s 5G connections by 2025, about 675 million, after the technological devices that use 4G are replaced by new ones. This will drive up demand for tech production and hinder automotive industry manufacturing as microchip producers prioritize supplying laptop, smart phones and video game console manufacturers, reported MBN.

FAA’s warning, made earlier in December, included the issue of a pair of airworthiness directives. FAA ordered the revision of airplane and helicopter flight manuals to prohibit some operations requiring radio altimeter data, a sensitive aircraft electronic, when in the presence of 5G C-Band wireless broadband signals, reported Reuters.

In November, 2021, AT&T and Verizon delayed the commercial launch of their C-band wireless service until Jan. 5, 2022, adopting precautionary measures to limit interference. However, aviation industry groups said that this measure was insufficient, reported BBC. FAA’s 5G directives would bar the use of radio altimeters at about 40 of the US’s biggest airports, warned Scott Kirby, CEO, United Airlines. “That is a big problem for passengers, shippers and the US economy,” added the Air Line Pilots Association on Monday.

Although this does not seem to be an important topic for Mexican aviation authorities yet, due to the disproportional rollout of 5G in emerging economies, businesses are now seeking to adopt digital technologies, looking increasingly for added value beyond faster speeds. Nevertheless, this technology is expected to catalyze Mexico’s digital transformation, as reported by MBN.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
MBN, Reuters, BBC
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Antonio Gozain Antonio Gozain Journalist and Industry Analyst