US operators warn of delays if 5G frequency rolls out

The launch of 5G wireless communications frequencies in January 2022 could spark a wave of cancellations and delays due to interference with aircraft navigation equipment, Scott Kirby, chief executive of United Airlines (UA, Chicago O’Hare), after a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in December. 15.

“It would be a catastrophic failure of the government,” Kirby said of plans by AT&T and Verizon, two mobile technology providers, to roll out 5G wireless spectrum on Jan. 5.

Kirby claimed the technology would interfere with aircraft radio altimeters, effectively forcing airlines to use less precise aids when landing at more than 40 major airports. He added that this would result in the cancellation of up to 4% of all flights in the United States. The Airlines for America trade association echoed Kirby’s views, saying the annual cost to passenger airlines in the country could reach $ 1.6 billion, while cargo carriers are expected to bear $ 400 million. additional additional costs.

“It’s a certainty. It’s not a debate,” Kirby added.

To rebuke Kirby’s bossy tone, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CITA) said 5G frequencies have been deployed in nearly 40 countries around the world with no reported interference with the systems. airplane.

“The airline industry’s fear campaign is based on completely discredited information and deliberate distortions of the facts,” CITA said.

AT&T and Verizon have already delayed the launch of 5G frequencies once for six months due to concerns raised by the aviation industry.

United did not respond to ch-aviation’s request to further substantiate its claims.

During the same hearing, Kirby also revealed that United Airlines had been forced to ground nearly 100 regional jets due to the continuing shortage of pilots.

“There has been a looming pilot shortage over the last decade in the United States, and through COVID, it has become a real pilot shortage. So all of us, especially our regional partners, just don’t have enough planes to fly. We have almost 100 regional planes actually grounded on the ground right now because there aren’t enough pilots to fly them, ”Kirby said.

He did not go into details about the types of planes and regional operators most affected by the pilot shortage. the advanced ch-aviation fleets The module shows that United Express food services are provided by Air Wisconsin, CommutAir, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airways and SkyWest Airlines and include a total of 582 different regional jets. In November, United Aviate Academy, wholly owned by United, entered into an agreement with Lufthansa Aviation Training (LAT) to lease twenty-five Cirrus SR22s to increase its training capacity.

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