On Monday, the top leadership of major US airlines and cargo carriers warned of an upcoming “catastrophic” aviation crisis when AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service on Wednesday.
Officials with the FAA and Boeing have previously warned that there is potential for the new service to interfere with aircraft instruments. The instruments of concern operate in the 4.2 to 44 GHz range, including crucial radio altimeters that assist pilots in low visibility.
The concern by officials is that in rare cases, the interference could result in false altitude readings. The result of such interference could confuse pilots approaching runways in poor visibility, creating potentially disastrous results.
Multiple airline CEOs issued a letter Monday to the White House expressing their continued concerns about the new 5G Service rollout.
Reuters obtained the letter, which was sent to National Economic Council director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Steve Dickson, and Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
Federal action is considered urgent, they stated in the letter, saying, “To be blunt, the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt.”
When winter weather grips the nation, as it did on Sunday, the CEOs claim interference to airplanes’ altimeters could result in “100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays.”
If this should occur, the CEOs cautioned federal officials that a significant number of widebody aircraft would become unusable and “could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas.”
“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” wrote the CEO’s of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.
Verizon and AT&T had agreed previously to push back the launch of their new service rollout that was set for January 4. However, the rollout is now set to debut on Wednesday.