U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Friday that there could be some airline delays or cancellations starting July 1 if the last remaining passenger jets haven’t upgraded their altimeters to handle 5G interference, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal report. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claims that 5G C-band signals could interfere with radio wave transmitters that passenger planes use to measure how far they are from the ground, which pilots rely on when landing in low visibility conditions.
While airlines won’t be required to get the new equipment in place until February 2024, passenger aircraft not certified for use around C-band 5G signals by July 1 will not be allowed to land in certain low-visibility situations.
Most of the U.S. domestic airline fleet is prepared, with more than 80 percent of planes upgraded, but about 65 percent of international jets flying to the U.S. have yet to be repaired. This is reported by the international aviation group International Air Transport Association WSJ that airlines would do their best to avoid disruptions, and that they preferred aircraft with the required altimeters for flights to the US. Air India says all its planes are so equipped.
In general, the article says airlines believe there will be little to no impact. In the US, most airlines say they expect their fleet to be fully upgraded by July 1, though Delta Air Lines and JetBlue will both miss that date, with 190 aircraft and 17 aircraft outstanding, respectively, the airline says. WSJ report. The Airlines for America trade association blamed global supply chain problems for meeting the deadline.
Full expansion of the critical band, which balances the slow but ubiquitous low-band 5G and the ultra-fast but easily stifled millimeter wave 5G, was initially paused until January 2022, but saw further delays – first until July 5, 2022 and then until July 1 of this year.
At the moment, the only flights that could face setbacks are those aboard aircraft that do not have the 5G interference-busting equipment installed and would land in low visibility conditions. A JetBlue spokesman said so WSJ there may be a “limited impact” in Boston on low visibility days beginning July 1.