Airline Pilots Call for Stay of 5G in C-Band

5g artistic rendering
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Airline pilots have joined their airline bosses in asking the Federal Communications Commission to stay its decision to allow a rollout of 5G wireless in the C-band spectrum adjacent to the bandwidth used for critical aviation devices.

In a January 2 filing with the FCC, the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) said that wireless operations could interfere with the radio altimeters they use to determine a plane's height-above-terrain. And because there is no other sources of that info, the interference may not be detectable and shut could provide “hazardously misleading” information to flight crews.

AT&T and Verizon Communications have said they would roll out their service January 5 despite Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg‘s call for a delay. They have already delayed that rollout from December 5 due to concerns about interference to altimeters.

AT&T and Verizon were the big winners in the FCC's C-band spectrum auction.

The airline industry filed an emergency petition at the FCC asking the agency to stop implementation of rules for the rollout of 5G in the band and suggesting not doing so would cost he airline industry $1 billion and delay shipments of COVID-19 vaccines and tests.

The airlines wanted a decision by Monday (January 3).

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.