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Airlines are trying to cancel, change flights due to fears of rolling out 5G




Major airlines around the world rushed to cancel or change flights to the United States on Wednesday ahead of the launch of a new 5G wireless service that has sparked security concerns.

The force came despite Verizon and AT&T agreeing to temporarily limit the launch of the new C-Band 5G service around some airports after the airline’s CEOs warned it could cause “catastrophic” disruptions.

Several airlines continued to choose to cancel or change flight model flights to the United States after warnings that the 5G launch could potentially disrupt signals used by radio altimeters, which help pilots land safely in low-visibility operations on some jets and aircraft.

The US Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday cleared a number of aircraft ̵[ads1]1; which make up 62 percent of the country’s commercial fleet – for low-term landings that are safe from interference from 5G mobiles, regulators said.

The trusted aircraft include popular Boeing, Airbus and McDonnell Douglas models.

“Even with these approvals, flights at some airports may still be affected,” according to an FAA statement. “The FAA also continues to work with manufacturers to understand how radar altimeter data is used in other air traffic control systems.”

Dubai’s Emirates said it would cancel flights to at least nine US destinations from Wednesday. Flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, as well as to Los Angeles and Washington, DC were still expected to run. The airline is the world’s largest operator of 777, according to the website.

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines also confirmed to NBC News that they would make flight changes.

Emirates is among the airlines changing planes in the US during the rollout of a new 5G service. Christopher Pike / Reuters file

Meanwhile, Japan’s two major airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, said they would also hold back on Boeing 777 flights to the United States, with the former airline saying it would cancel or change the aircraft used on some flights, according to Reuters .

Korean Air Lines, Air India and Taiwan’s China Airlines were also among those who announced flight changes.

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A Singapore Airlines spokesman told NBC News that the airline had changed the aircraft used on certain US routes “based on guidance from Boeing and in consultation with our regulators.”

Like Singapore Airlines, a number of other companies said they could have changed planes based on guidance from Boeing. Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

Delta Air Lines said it was also preparing for the possibility of weather-related cancellations due to the deployment of the new 5G service.

Delta Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Laughter said Tuesday that the company appreciated the decision by telecommunications companies to limit the rollout.

“We believe industries can grow, innovate and coexist for the benefit of consumers,” Laughter said. “That is why we continue to work with the FAA, the FCC and the telecom industry to find a practical solution that will allow the deployment of 5G technology while maintaining safety and avoiding flight disruptions.”

The statement came after Delta and other major US airlines, including American Airlines and United Airlines, on Monday sent a letter to US transport and economic officials warning that Wednesday’s development of 5G could cause major disruption.

In response, both AT&T and Verizon on Tuesday agreed to temporarily limit the 5G service around some US airports after delaying the rollout of the service by two weeks due to the same concerns.

Verizon said that while it would continue with the 5G launch, which it said would “enable more than 90 million Americans to experience the transformative speed”, it also acknowledged that some crucial “operational” issues had not yet been resolved .

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our nation’s airlines have not been able to fully address 5G navigation around airports, despite being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries,” Verizon said Tuesday.

AT&T said it also agreed to “temporarily postpone hitting a limited number of towers around certain runways at the airport”.

However, the company said: “We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it to do so in a timely manner.”

In a statement published on the FAA’s website on Tuesday, Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg said the United States will continue to “lead the world in safety” in the middle of Wednesday’s 5G rollout.

“We recognize the economic importance of expanding 5G, and we appreciate the wireless companies that work with us to protect the flying public and the country’s supply chain,” he said. “The complex US airspace leads the world in safety due to our high standards of aviation, and we will maintain this commitment when wireless companies distribute 5G.”


Reuters contributed.



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