5G rollout in US: Air India gets technical clearance to fly Boeing 777 aircraft

JAN 20, 2022

After a brief disruption, Air India on Thursday resumed flight operations on the Boeing 777 aircraft to the United States following a technical snag that obstructed the rollout of 5G services in the country. The airline released a statement saying Boeing has issued a clearance to operate flights on its B777 aircraft.

“Boeing has cleared AI to operate to USA on B777. First flight left this morning to JFK. Other flights leaving in the day are to Chicago and SFO. Arrangements to carry stranded pax are being worked out. Matter regarding B777 flying into USA has been sorted,” Air India said in a statement.

Air India had cancelled at least eight B777 flights to key destinations in the USA including Chicago, Newark, New York and San Francisco. The airline had said it would try and switch to other aircraft for these routes.

In total, airlines have cancelled more than 320 flights to and from the US by Wednesday evening following warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) due to the rollout of high-speed wireless service interfering with aircraft technology that measures altitude, an Associated Press report said.

This accounts for a little over 2 per cent of the US total, according to FlightAware.

"It is important to fully understand and reduce potential 5G signal interference with radio altimeters that are integral to aircraft security systems. We understand that the activation of these services is a part of India's select Coming soon in cities," the Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP) expressed concern in a January 4 letter.

The FIP also mentioned that if 5G deploys, pilots may face safety issues while operating flights.

US telecom service providers AT&T and Verizon had announced that they would pause the 5G roll-out around key airports until the issue was fixed.

US is not the first country to rollout 5G services and similar mobile networks have been deployed in more than three dozen countries. However, the US networks are designed in a certain way that raised concern of potential problems for airlines.

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