Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun and Airbus Americas CEO Jeffrey Knittel on Monday urged the Biden administration to delay planned deployment of new 5G wireless services, saying it could harm aviation safety.
The executives in a joint letter asked US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to support postponing AT&T and Verizon’s deployment of C-Band spectrum 5G wireless.
“5G interference could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate,” their letter said, adding it could have “an enormous negative impact on the aviation industry.”
The industry and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have raised concerns about potential interference of 5G with sensitive aircraft electronics like radio altimeters.
The FAA this month issued airworthiness directives warning 5G interference could result in flight diversions.
The Boeing Airbus letter cited an analysis from trade group Airlines for America (A4A) that if the FAA 5G directive had been in effect in 2019, about 345,000 passenger flights and 5,400 cargo flights would have faced delays, diversions or cancellations.
In November, AT&T and Verizon delayed commercial launch of C-band wireless service by a month until January 5.
Aviation industry groups said that was insufficient. Boeing and Airbus said they made a counterproposal that would limit cellular transmissions around airports and other critical areas.
United Airlines Chief Executive Scott Kirby said last week that FAA’s 5G directives would bar the use of radio altimeters at about 40 of the country’s biggest airports.
Wireless industry group CTIA said 5G is safe and accused the aviation industry of fear mongering and distorting facts.