Aviation industry leaders warn of ‘catastrophic disruption’

Aviation industry leaders warn of 'catastrophic disruption’

The global aviation industry faces “catastrophic” disruption from the rollout of 5G network service this week, airline leaders have said.

In a letter sent Monday to United States transportation and economic officials, the Chief Executive Officers of major carriers said that the launch could ground flights and leave ‘tens of thousands of Americans’ stranded around the world.

In the letter, obtained by NBC News, the airlines warned that the 5G signals risked interfering with safety equipment pilots rely on to take off and land in inclement weather.

“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” they said in the letter, which was signed by the chief executives of American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue, along with leaders of UPS and FedEx.

“Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies,” the letter said.

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The letter was addressed to National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Stephen Dickson and Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

The CEOs’ warning came ahead of Wednesday’s rollout of the new C-Band 5G service from telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon.

Widely known as 5G, the fifth-generation wireless technology promises to deliver ultra-fast internet speeds, extra bandwidth and increased connectivity.

Across the world, telecommunications companies are racing to roll out the service.

Both the AT&T and Verizon have previously insisted that 5G networks operate safely without interference in nearly 40 countries and would do the same in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says it will take the precaution of prohibiting pilots from using altimeters during landing at more than 80 airports near 5G sites, with airports in Dallas, New York, Chicago and Seattle among those expected to be affected.

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FAA is the largest transportation agency of the U.S. government and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the country as well as over surrounding international waters.

Last year, after 11 rounds of bidding that lasted eight hours, Mafab Communications Ltd and MTN Nigeria Plc emerged successful winners of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) technology to support the delivery of ubiquitous broadband services in Nigeria.

In his reaction, Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said Nigeria hopes to have the largest fifth generation (5G) network coverage in Africa by 2022.

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