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Concerns Mount as British Airways, Emirates Cancel Flights to US over 5G

International airlines are beginning to cancel scheduled flights to most cities in the Unites States over fear of 5G network interference on aviation signals around most US cities. The flight

International airlines are beginning to cancel scheduled flights to most cities in the Unites States over fear of 5G network interference on aviation signals around most US cities.

The flight cancellations were based on perceived fears that 5G deployment in some cities in the US would cause serious disruption to aviation signals around the airports.

Dubai’s Emirates airline, for instance, announced on Tuesday that it would suspend flights to several destinations in the United States as of January 19, until further notice because of concerns over 5G mobile network deployment.

The move, according to a statement from the airline was, “due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the US.”

The destinations included Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Also, on Wednesday, British Airways cancelled a handful of flights from Heathrow to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.
“Safety is always our priority. We are monitoring the situation in the US closely and will continue to review our schedule in the next few hours,” the airline said in a statement.

It added, “We are disappointed that some of our customers are facing potential disruption and will update them as soon as possible on any changes to their travel plans.’’

The introduction of 5G technology has been halted in some parts of the US but is going ahead elsewhere.
Emirates further said its flights to New York’s JFK, Los Angeles International Airport and Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport would continue to operate as usual.

“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible,” the carrier said.

Disturbed by the recent development, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that it was strange to read that international airlines were cancelling flight to some cities in the US, because of perceived fears that 5G network would cause obstruction to aviation signals.

According to him, “There are no known report that 5G would could cause obstruction to aviation signals. Nigeria is about to deploy 5G network and there should be no fears about perceived 5G network disruption to aviation signals in Nigeria. All these are part of the conspiracy theories originating from those campaigning against 5G deployments.”

Adebayo further said: “It will be really strange for British Airways and Emirates to cancel scheduled flights to some cities in America because of fear of disruption of aviation signals coming from 5G network. It will be nice to know the reaction of the Office of Communications (OFCOM), the body that regulates broadcasting and telecommunications in the United Kingdom (UK), since 5G network had since been deplored in the UK, without complaints of interference to aviation signals.

“There are lots of conspiracy theories about 5G network deployment, but unfortunately, there are no proofs to these conspiracy theories.”
According to him, “if British Airways said it was cancelling flights to US for fear of 5G network interference, I will certainly like to know what OFCOM, the telecoms regulator in the UK, where British Airways operate, would say about it.

“In the UK, there are 5G network deployment and there had been no complain of 5G interference on aviation signals in the UK. So why will the case in US be different, if not for the unfounded conspiracy theories around 5G network deployment?”

He explained that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had carried out trial test on 5G network rollout in some cities in Nigeria, before coming to the conclusion of the planned deployment of 5G in Nigeria this year. After the trial test, NCC told telecoms operators that 5G was good for rollout in Nigeria because there were no observed case of interruption to aviation signals, during the trial test, Adebayo said.

Reacting to the planned cancellation of flights to US by Emirates and the British Airways, Adebayo said he would like to know what kind of interference the airlines were talking about, and at what distance does such interference occur, and what band of signal does the 5G network affect. Is it with data communication, voice communication or their navigation system? Adebayo questioned.

He explained that the C-Band frequency which aviation industry uses, has very wide frequency, with many layers of spectrum. He said even though both the telecoms operators and the aviation industry use C-Band for their operations, it would not create interference because of the distance, since the band ranges between four and eight GigaHertz (4-8GHz), which he said, were distant apart. He added that apart from the distance in the spectrum, there were also firewall to protect different applications within the spectrum.

“Again, before operators can deploy any equipment on 5G, there is quality assurance test that they must carry out on the equipment to ensure there will be no interference of any kind,” Adebayo said.

Telecoms experts had earlier raised the alarm that the aviation industry and the aircraft manufacturers, including the military, were jostling for the control of 5G network for their operations, insinuating that they would not want 5G network to be used for communications by telecoms operators, which corroborates Adebayo’s views about the ongoing conspiracy theories on global 5G deployment.

Emma Okonji

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