Major U.S. airlines warn new C-Band 5G launch could be ‘catastrophic,’ wreak havoc

The chief executives of major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers on Monday warned of an impending “catastrophic” aviation crisis in less than 36 hours, when Verizon and AT&T plan to deploy new C-Band 5G service.


David Shepardson for Reuters:

The airlines warned the new C-Band 5G service set to begin on Wednesday could render a significant number of widebody aircraft unusable, “could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas” and cause “chaos” for U.S. flights.

“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” wrote the chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others in a letter first reported by Reuters.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that potential interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations.

“This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays,” the letter cautioned… Action is urgent, the airlines added in the letter also signed by UPS Airlines, Alaska Air, Atlas Air, JetBlue Airways and FedEx Express. “To be blunt, the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt.”

The letter went to White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Airlines for America, the group that organized the letter, declined to comment. The FAA said it “will continue to ensure that the traveling public is safe as wireless companies deploy 5G. The FAA continues to work with the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations.”

MacDailyNews Take: “Hello? We’d like to cancel our plane tickets.”

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  1. Why the hell would you wait until 36 hours before implementation to make a big fuss and raise awareness of a potentially fatal technology being brought out? Seriously.

    1. Well, my question is, what brain trust approved moving forward with opening up a part of the cellular spectrum in which my jumping on my iPhone to scroll MacDailyNews could potentially bring down a jumbo jet?

      1. Used throughout Europe no issues. FAA has been working for a while with Service Providers on this. SPs have slowed the rollout upon FAA request. Last-minute move by United et al sounds like safety isn’t the motivation.

        1. You are forgetting the different cultural aspects. Europe wanted it, installed it and no issues. You can’t do something like this in Apple’s home country without a whole bunch of moaning and whining. It’s their way.

          1. There’s a lot of technical differences too:

            a. ban around airports:
            EU: permanent
            USs: temporary (expiring)

            b. airport protection radius
            EU: large (5? miles)
            USs: small (2 miles)

            c. 5G channel max output
            EU: low
            US: high (2x EU)

            d. RF band separation
            EU: okay
            US: narrow (closer than the EU)

            For the radio altimeter device in question, that’s clearly a risk of overloading the receiver and possibly frying it.

            That’s why there’s risks.

            Case in point, consider how much by looking at (b) and (c) together: using a simple (1/r^2) far field for RF signal strength, the US signal is roughly twice as strong and twice as close, which means its RF signal strength is ~4x higher than that of EU.

            Likewise, (d) represents how close or far off the polluting 5G neighbor is to the altimeter’s center frequency. I’ve not seen a lot of details here, but the two important elements are that (a) it is closer, and (b) this ties into the attenuator physics & design. In a nutshell, a receiver classically has a gaussian curve curve response; the important thing here to note is that it is because of this curve that it will pick up other frequencies. You need to add filtering (& complexity, cost) to reject those other signals. Now the tricky part is that the closer the bad frequency is to the one you want, the (a) stronger it is, and (b) more expensive it is to filter out.

            If I had to take a guess on the significance of (d), I’d say that the bandwidth proximity probably represents another doubling of RF signal strength risk.

        2. The frequency bands authorised for 5G use in Europe, Asia, Australia and other places is more widely separated from that used by aircraft altimeters compared to the USA frequencies, which is why problems have not been experienced.
          I have no idea why US authorities decided to allow such little separation but then cellular technology implementation in the USA has almost always been several years behind and of a different standard compared to other advanced nations.

  2. I bet this is pretense for more government handouts. I wish these dumb airlines would make payroll just once in their existence without having to pilfer money from taxpayers.

  3. Deep penetration into the body

    Another important fact about radiation from phased array antennas is this: it penetrates much deeper into the human body and the assumptions that the FCC’s exposure limits are based on do not apply. This was brought to everyone’s attention by Dr. Richard Albanese of Brooks Air Force Base in connection with PAVE PAWS and was reported on in Microwave News in 2002.[12] When an ordinary electromagnetic field enters the body, it causes charges to move and currents to flow. But when extremely short electromagnetic pulses enter the body, something else happens: the moving charges themselves become little antennas that re-radiate the electromagnetic field and send it deeper into the body. These re-radiated waves are called Brillouin precursors.[13] They become significant when either the power or the phase of the waves changes rapidly enough.[14] 5G will probably satisfy both requirements. This means that the reassurance we are being given—that these millimeter waves are too short to penetrate far into the body—is not true.

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