Why has the 5G rollout affected flights?
The high-speed 5G cellular network uses so-called C-band frequencies similar to those used by radio altimeters on aircraft. Top U.S. airlines have warned that the rollout near airports could interfere with equipment that planes use to take off and land.
Radio altimeters give precise readings of the height above the ground on approach and help with automated landings, as well as verifying the plane has landed before allowing reverse thrust. Altimeters operate in the 4.2-4.4 GHz range and the concern is that the auctioned frequencies sit too close to this range.
In most parts of the world, the 5G usage spectrum is 3.2-3.8GHz. In the US the spectrum goes up to 4.1-4.2GHz.
Altimeters installed on the aircraft are in the 4.4GHz range.
B777 May be Affected
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration last week issued notices of restrictions on operations at airports where 5G service could affect equipment. Boeing told airlines on Tuesday that it does not recommend landing 777 aircraft at these airports.
"The FAA will continue to ensure that the traveling public is safe as wireless companies deploy 5G," the agency said in a statement on Monday. "The FAA continues to work with the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations."
B787 - Precautions Required by FAA
U.S. FAA requires precautions for Boeing 787 landings after new 5G launches. The FAA said 5G interference could prevent engine and braking systems from transitioning to landing mode, which could prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway. The directive requires crews "to be aware of this risk and to adopt specific safety procedures when landing on these runways."
According to Nikkei Asia News, ANA canceled 10 flights connecting Tokyo with Los Angeles and New York, scheduled to depart Tuesday through Thursday, affecting roughly 650 passengers. It also called off 10 cargo flights.
ANA says Boeing 777 aircraft can be affected while Boeing 787 planes will be able to operate with equipment adjustments.
ANA said it has decided to "cancel flights that cannot be switched to the 787," adding that it will "consider using 787 aircraft for future flights on the affected routes."
Japan Airlines (JAL)
JAL canceled three flights scheduled to take off on Wednesday, including those between Tokyo and New York, as well as five cargo flights.
Emirates will be suspending flights to the following US destinations from 19 January 2022 until further notice:
- Boston (BOS)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
- Houston (IAH)
- Miami (MIA)
- Newark (EWR)
- Orlando (MCO)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle (SEA)
Customers holding tickets with the final destination to any of the above will not be accepted at the point of origin. It seems most B777 flights are affected.
Emirates flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles (LAX) and Washington DC (IAD) continue to operate as scheduled.
I am expecting more airlines to join the developing list as a precaution.