Amidst warnings of potential network interference, most airlines operated just fine as 5G networks rolled out. Multiple warnings were going around in the weeks leading up to the 5G deployment. Some international flights were even canceled because of potential issues. In total, there were around 300 flights canceled.
The biggest roadblock during the 5G rollout was for smaller airlines. In parts of the country with bad weather, regional airlines had to wait for clearance to use smaller planes. This was because the network rollout could possibly mess with safety gear, which is essential during bad weather.
Why Would 5G Networks Affect Airlines?
5G networks use a type of airwave called C-band. The C-band is similar to what is used for aircraft machinery. Specifically, they mess with radio altimeters. Altimeters are used to measure altitude. They’re needed during the landing process, especially during bad weather or poor visibility.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been busy studying data to see which planes are safe to travel. So far, Boeing and Airbus planes have been vetted by the FAA. Originally, Boeing had some issues with their 777 jets, but they have since been fixed. According to the Washington Post, the FAA has cleared 62% of all commercial jets for landing. Data is still being looked over for smaller airlines and planes.
Thanks to the FAA’s hard work towards clearing airlines, most major companies didn’t have any serious issues. Regional carriers were left behind as the FAA focused on bigger companies. Regional airlines account for 43% of all plane departures in the US. Faye Malarkey Black, president and chief executive of the Regional Airline Association, said that while the White House and DOT are acting to protect airlines, they “have really overlooked a wide swath of the industry.”
“The only reason we’re not seeing terrible chaos is thanks to fair weather in much of the nation,” she added. “If there’s weather, that’s a huge problem and it’s not a problem felt evenly. It’s been resolved in urban centers, but remains very much in place in smaller communities, mostly rural and remote communities.”
5G Companies Plan to Work Together to Fix Airplane Issues
Another worry of Black’s is that there won’t be a workaround for some types of planes. However, officials at Verizon and AT&T have pledged to work with airlines and other officials to fix any problems. “We just need to take the time so they feel good about the technology and all of that,” said Hans Vestberg, chief executive of Verizon. “That’s happening, and of course the FCC is involved, the FAA is involved. All my technicians are involved because that’s where the discussion is happening. That’s what’s happening and the collaboration is good.” AT&T released a similar statement.