Flights were canceled by major international airlines heading to the U.S. due to the latest dispute over 5G mobile phone service concerns interfering with aircraft technology.
AT&T and Verizon launched their 5G network across America on Wednesday morning, switching on 4,500 towers to bring faster wireless to their customers.
According to The Daily Mail, the two mobile phone services had to hold back on ten percent of the towers (500) that are near airports because the frequencies the towers emit could interfere with the signals on some planes.
Boeing 777, a plane used by carriers worldwide, was affected by the new high-speed wireless service and made some airlines of the issue. The aircraft is the workhorse for the Dubai-based Emirates, a key carrier for East-West travel, and its flight schedule took one of the biggest hits.
Several airlines said they would try to use different planes to maintain service merely.
AT&T and Verizon originally said their equipment would not interfere with aircraft electronics; however, the Federal Communications Commission saw a potential problem, and the telecom companies agreed to pause while it was addressed.
During his interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, the president of Emirates named the 5G fiasco as the ‘most delinquent, irresponsible’ mess he has seen in his 50-year activation career and has blamed Biden administration and Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who failed to see it coming or prevent it.
“I need to be as candid as I normally am, and say this is one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible issue subjects; call it what you like, I’ve seen in my aviation career because it involves organs of government, manufacturers, science, etc.”
On Wednesday, Emirates announced it would halt flights to several American cities due to “operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the U.S. at certain airports.” It said it would continue flights to Los Angeles, New York, and Washington.
“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our U.S. services as soon as possible,” the state-owned airline said.
Dozens remain scrapped, along with flights by Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Air India, and Delta.
Japan’s All Nippon Airways said that the FAA “has indicated that radio waves from the 5G wireless service may interfere with aircraft altimeters.”
“Boeing has announced flight restrictions on all airlines operating the Boeing 777 aircraft, and we have canceled or changed the aircraft for some flights to/from the U.S. based on the announcement by Boeing,” ANA said. It canceled 20 flights over the issue to cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.
Japan Airlines similarly said that it had been informed that 5G signals “may interfere with the radio altimeter installed on the Boeing 777.”
Air India recently announced on Twitter that it would cancel flights to Chicago, Newark, New York, and San Francisco because of the 5G issue.
But it also said it would try to use other aircraft on U.S. routes — a course several other airlines took.
British Airways canceled several planned U.S.-bound Boeing 777 flights and changed aircraft on others on Wednesday.
The FAA has said it will allow planes with accurate, reliable altimeters to operate around high-power 5G. But planes with older altimeters will not be allowed to make landings under low-visibility conditions.
According to the FAA, part of the problem is the signal strength of the 5G towers and the orientation of their antennae.
“Base stations in rural areas of the United States are permitted to emit at higher levels compared to other countries which may affect radio altimeter equipment accuracy and reliability,” the FAA said in December.