Select Page


Major U.S. air carriers have issued a warning that plans by wireless carriers to use spectrum for 5G wireless services starting Jan. 5 could disrupt thousands of daily flights and cost air passengers $1.6 billion annually in delays.

United Airlines Chief Executive Scott Kirby said the interruption could delay, divert or cancel daily flights and impact hundreds of thousands of passengers

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have previously raised concerns about potential interference of 5G signals might interfere with altimeters that calculate altitude and help with landings.

This could result in U.S. airports in the event of bad weather, cloud cover or even heavy smog only being able to perform visual approaches due to altimeter interference.

There are currently seem to be no official altimeter standards for aircraft.

As a result, there may be a large variation in radio altimeter receiver performance between different manufacturers. In other words, some equipment may have better filters for preventing interference than others with the FCC going as far as stating that “well-designed equipment should not ordinarily receive any significant interference (let alone harmful interference).”

The wireless industry has pushed back stating the 5G operates safely and without causing harmful interference to aviation operations in nearly 40 countries around the world.

AT&T and Verizon have previously agreed to delay the commercial launch 5G services until January 5th and have adopted precautionary measures for six months to limit interference.

The immediate issues for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are the following:

  • 5G services have been promised to their 5G customers which is approaching 100 million 5G subscribers;
  • These company’s financial future is tied into the success and speed to market of 5G services to both consumers and businesses alike;
  • The wireless carriers have paid more than $80 billion to acquire wireless spectrum necessary for 5G; and
  • Issues like these are not going away as when fully completed it is estimated over 500,000 new 5G cell sites will be built nationwide.

The Biden administration has and continues to be involved in the Aviation/Wireless dispute and should see the source of the issues as not 5G but a lack of standards in the aviation industry regarding essential equipment in its aircraft.