US aviation hit by fears over 5G

 Air India resumes US operations after clearance from Boeing  

New York: Travel plans for thousands of passengers, including those traveling to India, were disrupted after airlines canceled or curtailed some flights to and from the US over the issue of deployment of new 5G service. According to FlightAware, airlines had canceled more than 320 flights by Wednesday evening, a little over 2 percent of the US total.

Major international airlines including Emirates, Air India, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa and British Airways modified or canceled flights to the United States amid uncertainty about potential interference between new 5G cell phone services and critical airplanes technologies.

Troubles for those booked on US-bound Air India flights seem to be over as the airline has received a clearance to operate its Boeing 777 airplanes to the US from the aircraft manufacturer. Air India announced to resume US operations from January 21. Air India also pressed in 3 relief flights to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco for carrying stranded passengers as it resumed normal flight operations.

Air India had decided to cancel eight flights on US routes on Wednesday and six on Thursday. Air India said on Twitter that “due to deployment of the 5G communications in the US”, it will not operate eight of its flights on the Delhi-New York, Delhi-Chicago, Delhi-San Francisco sectors. Besides Air India, American Airlines and Delta Airlines currently operate direct flights between India and the US.

Some flights to and from the US were canceled even after AT&T and Verizon scaled back the rollout of high-speed wireless service that could interfere with aircraft technology that measures altitude.

Earlier, a warning was issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on January 14 that the new 5G technology being rolled out in the US from Wednesday could potentially lead to interference with onboard instruments such as radar altimeters.

The US had auctioned 5G bandwidth to mobile phone companies in 2021 in the 3.7-3.98 GHz on the spectrum range called the C-band. The radar altimeters operate in the 4.2-4.4 GHz (gigahertz) frequency range and the auctioned mid-range frequencies in the US are extremely close to this band.

The use of the C-band spectrum for deployment of 5G technology by telecom service providers has been a cause of concern for the aviation industry throughout the world.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: Tribune India)

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