Explained: Why Air India, others are cancelling flights to US because of 5G roll out – Times of India

In the last couple of days, Air India has cancelled quite a few flights to the US. India’s official airline carrier isn’t the only one to do so as the likes of Emirates, Japan Airlines have also cancelled some of its flights to the US. The reason? A broader roll out of 5G in some parts of the US. Here we explain why 5G is leading to cancellation of flights

What is the impact of 5G on aviation?

On January 18, United Airlines said that the current 5G rollout plan in the US will have a “devastating impact” on aviation. The US-based airline explained that, “When deployed next to runways, the 5G signals could interfere with the key safety equipment that pilots rely on to take off and land in inclement weather.” Parts of 5G spectrum — specifically C-band airwaves — reportedly interfere with altimeters in aircraft. An altimeter gives pilots accurate altitude readings and is critical for landings in testing conditions like limited visibility.

Why is US the only country where flights are being cancelled

5G has been rolled out in 40 countries so far but US is the only one where airlines are facing this issue. That’s because telecom operators — AT&T and Verizon — use the C-band which is causing the problem.

What do airlines want on 5G?

Airlines have said they want the US to do what other countries have done. They want to ensure that safe deployment of 5G technology is done around airports. As United Airlines said in a statement, “Governments in other countries have successfully designed policies to ensure the safe deployment of 5G technology and we’re simply asking the US government to do the same.” Airlines are worried that safety systems on aircrafts will be otherwise compromised.

What have other 5G countries done?

In France, the 5G antennas placement has been restricted around airfields. The antennas are tilted slightly downwards so that there’s limited interference with the aircraft.It is the height of the 5G antenna, the power of its signal tells how close telecom operators can put it close to the runway. France, as per a report by CNN, has tilted the antennas around 17 of its major airports to reduce aviation risks around 5G.

What happens next?

So far the two major US telecom carriers have postponed 5G rollout in certain areas because of the airlines concern. It is expected that the Federal Aviation Authority in the US said that an estimated 45% of the US commercial aircrafts can perform low-visibility landings at many airports where 5G antennas are deployed. It is expected to issue more approvals but these aren’t major airports of the US. So it remains to be seen how the authorities and telecom operators solve this issue.

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