Emirates will resume Boeing 777 flights to US after 5G approval | Air transport
The long-haul company Emirates has said it will resume its Boeing 777 flights to the US after stopping use of the aircraft there due to concerns that new 5G services in the country could interfere with the aircraft’s instruments that measure altitude.
International airlines heavily dependent on wide-body 777 and other Boeing aircraft canceled early flights or switched to other aircraft on Wednesday following warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer about possible 5G interference with radio altimeters.
Late Wednesday, the FAA gave approval for several types of aircraft to land in poor visibility near 5G signals, including the Boeing 777.
Among the airlines most affected by the FAA decision were Dubai-based Emirates, a major east-west airline flying only 777 and the double-decker Airbus A380.
Emirates said its Boeing 777 services to Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando and Seattle will resume on Friday. Flights to Boston, Houston and San Francisco, for which the Emirates had deployed its A380s, will resume Boeing 777 flights on Saturday.
Tim Clark, Emirates’ president, apologized to customers for the disruption. “Security will always be our top priority and we will never play on this front,” he said. “We welcome the latest developments that will enable us to resume important transportation connections to the United States to serve travelers and cargo shippers.”
However, he added: “We are also very aware that this is a temporary postponement and a long-term solution will be needed.” This refers to the fact that Verizon and AT&T only temporarily reduce the roll-out of 5G near dozens of airports as the FAA assesses which aircraft are safe to fly close to the new 5G frequencies and which will need new altimeters.
Similar 5G mobile networks have been distributed in more than three dozen countries, but there are important differences in how the US networks are designed that have raised concerns about potential problems for airlines.
The Verizon and AT&T networks use a segment of the radio spectrum that is close to that used by radio altimeters, devices that measure the altitude of planes above ground to help pilots land in low visibility.
The Federal Communications Commission, which set a buffer between the frequencies used by 5G and altimeters, has said that the wireless service does not pose a risk to aviation. But FAA officials saw a potential problem.