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5G and airlines: ANA, JAL ground U.S. flights as disruption looms

  • January 19, 2022
  • , Nikkei Asia , 5:26 a.m.
  • English Press

HAJIME MATSUMOTO, Nikkei staff writer

 

TOKYO — Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines canceled some flights to and from the U.S. this week out of fears the rollout of 5G service by American telecoms could interfere with flight operations.

 

ANA canceled 10 flights connecting Tokyo with Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, scheduled to depart Tuesday through Thursday, affecting roughly 650 passengers. It also called off 10 cargo flights.

 

JAL canceled three flights scheduled to take off on Wednesday, including those between Tokyo and New York, as well as five cargo flights.

 

U.S. telecom companies Verizon and AT&T are set to expand high-speed 5G telecom service on Wednesday, but agreed Tuesday to temporarily defer turning on some wireless towers near key airports in response to concerns raised by major airlines.

 

“As the nation’s leading wireless provider, we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports,” Verizon said in a press release.

 

It was not immediately clear whether the telecoms’ decisions would affect the cancelation plans by ANA and JAL.

 

The high-speed 5G cellular network uses so-called C-band frequencies similar to those used by radio altimeters on aircraft.

 

Top U.S. airlines have warned that the rollout near airports could interfere with equipment that planes use to take off and land, adding that they feared chaos at airports and cargo hubs because of restrictions put in place by aviation regulators to avoid interference.

 

ANA says Boeing 777 aircraft can be affected while Boeing 787 planes will be able to operate with equipment adjustments.

 

ANA said it has decided to “cancel flights that cannot be switched to the 787,” adding that it will “consider using 787 aircraft for future flights on the affected routes.”

 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration last week issued notices of restrictions on operations at airports where 5G service could affect equipment. Boeing told airlines on Tuesday Japan time that it does not recommend landing 777 aircraft at these airports.

 

“The FAA will continue to ensure that the traveling public is safe as wireless companies deploy 5G,” the agency said in a statement on Monday. “The FAA continues to work with the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations.”

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