On Monday, the airline industry urged the US officials to prohibit any 5G wireless transmission within a two-mile radius of airport runways, noting the possibility for thousands of flight cancellations and disruptions if the technology is activated in just days.
Airlines for America, which represents the majority of the airline and cargo industries, has warned that the 5G activation scheduled to begin on Wednesday may interrupt thousands of passengers and cargo shipments, despite workarounds put in place by the FAA to limit interference when feasible.
The CEOs of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, FedEx, and UPS’ airline groups, and the head of A4A, signed a letter requesting the measures, which POLITICO acquired.
The letter addressed to National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, stated that “immediate intervention is required to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain, and delivery of needed medical supplies” such as vaccines.
The petition encouraged authorities to “take whatever action is necessary” to ensure that 5G is not implemented in areas where air traffic control towers are too near to runways until the FAA can determine how it “may be safely accomplished without catastrophic disruption.”
According to the CEOs, airplane manufactures have advised them that if nothing is done, “large swathes of the operational fleet may need to be indefinitely grounded” and that tens of thousands of Americans may be stuck overseas.
“The ripple effects across both passenger and cargo operations, our workforce and the broader economy are simply incalculable” if 5G is implemented too close to airports, the letter warned.
“Every one of the passenger and cargo carriers will be struggling to get people, shipments, planes, and crews where they need to be. To be blunt, the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt.”
The FAA intends to grant more permits in the coming days, including different methods to guarantee safety standards are satisfied if pilots and crew cannot land despite the present mitigations. In addition, over the next six months, the DOT, AT&T, and Verizon will continue to implement additional safeguards in specific airport zones.