Update: Most of the effected flights have been restored after an agreement to delay the 5G launch near airports.
Update: British Airways’ 777, Lufthansa 747-8, and Korean Air’s 747-8 and 777 flights to the US are being cancelled as well. Lufthansa 747-8s have been replaced with 747-400s, which apparently aren’t affected by 5G concerns, though they don’t have a first class cabin like the newer 747-8s.
In the meantime, United is blaming delays on some 777 routes on 5G signals. They instruct passengers to contact the FCC with this link to complain.
Emirates is calling the US 5G situation “utterly irresponsible” while the Wall Street Journal (archive link) notes that the FCC was fully transparent about 5G plans since March 2020, which was plenty of time for the FAA to act. The FAA sat on the information until December 2021, having done nothing to resolve the issue. It’s a new low in government incompetence and cross agency turf wars.
Perhaps complaints ought to be directed to the FAA instead of the FCC? Though I wouldn’t expect United to pick a fight with their own regulator. Plus, US airlines are likely seeking that the FCC should be the ones to pay for upgrades to make their altimeters compatible with C-band 5G.
Originally posted on 1/18:
AT&T and Verizon plan to enable C-band 5G in the US tomorrow. Unfortunately despite years of knowing this day was coming, the FAA hasn’t finished studying the impact of 5G C-band on navigation systems and they have been fighting with the FCC to delay the 5G launch.
Earlier this month, AT&T and Verizon agreed to create buffer zones around 50 US airports to reduce the risk of interference and agreed to pause the launch until the 19th, but apparently that was not enough. Similar C-band 5G has launched in France without causing interference issues.
And now Boeing has warned airlines that C-band 5G service could affect 777 altimeters and that they don’t recommend flying 777s to airports near 5G towers.
For Emirates, that means that flights to/from Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Miami (MIA), Newark (EWR), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA) are all suspended indefinitely. They fly the A380 to JFK, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, which will continue to operate.
United says that its 737s and 787s may also be affected by 5G issues.
The aviation industry just can’t seem to catch a break.
Expect to see many more flight cancellations in the coming days…