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EXCLUSIVE Major CEOs of major US airlines warn that 5G could sink some planes and wreak havoc

A Southwest Airlines plane is approaching to land at San Diego International Airport, while US telecommunications companies, airlines and the FAA continue to discuss the potential impact of 5G wireless services on avionics in San Diego, California, USA, January 6, 2022. REUTERS / Mike Blake

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (Reuters) - The CEOs of major U.S. passenger and cargo ships warned Monday of an impending "catastrophic" aviation crisis on Wednesday when AT&T (TN) and Verizon (VZ.N) are set to implement new 5Gs. favor .

Airlines warned that the new C-Band 5G service could potentially render a significant number of widebody aircraft unusable and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans abroad."

"Unless our major hubs are approved to fly, the vast majority of travelers and shipping will essentially be grounded," wrote the top executives of American Airlines (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), United Airlines , Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) and others.

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The FAA has warned that potential interference could affect sensitive aircraft instruments such as altimeters and impact on low visibility operations.

"This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers will be subject to cancellations, diversions or delays," it warns.

Action is urgent, they added in the letter also signed by UPS Airlines (UPS.N), Atlas Air (AAWW.O), JetBlue Airways and FedEx Express (FDX.N). "To be honest, the nation's trade will stall."

The letter, which was viewed by Reuters, went to the director of the White House National Economic Council Brian Deese, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator Steve Dickson and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Jessica Rosenworcel.

Airlines for America, the group that organized the letter, declined to comment. The public authorities did not immediately comment.

AT&T and Verizon, which won nearly the entire C-Band spectrum in a $ 80 billion auction last year, agreed on January 3 to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks and take other steps to reduce potential interference in six months. . They also agreed to postpone the broadcast for two weeks until Wednesday, which temporarily averted a safety stop in aviation.

Major airline CEOs and Boeing (BA.N) CEO Dave Calhoun held a lengthy call with Buttigieg and Dickson on Sunday to warn of the looming crisis, officials told Reuters.

Airlines request "that 5G be implemented throughout the country except within the approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) of airport runways" at some major airports.

"Immediate intervention is necessary to avoid significant operational disruptions for air passengers, shippers, the supply chain and the provision of necessary medical supplies."

The airlines added that flight restrictions will not be limited to operations in bad weather. "Several modern safety systems on aircraft will be considered useless, causing a much bigger problem than what we knew ... Aircraft manufacturers have informed us that there are large parts of the operation

fleet that may need land indefinitely. "

The carriers added that they are calling for action to ensure that "5G is implemented except when the towers are too close to the airport runways until the FAA can determine how it can be safely achieved without catastrophic disruption."

The FAA said Sunday that it had estimated an estimated 45% of the U.S. commercial aircraft fleet to make bad landings at many airports, where the 5G C-band will be deployed from Wednesday. The airlines noted on Monday that the list did not include many major airports.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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