Major international airlines canceled flights to the U.S. or changed planes Wednesday because of the rollout of the new 5G wireless service, which has sparked safety concerns for airlines.
One domestic flight was canceled at the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, which doesn’t have international flights. The cancellation was not due to the 5G rollout.
“We will not have any cancellations due to it as SBA does not utilize auto landing in our operations,” Angi Daus, the airport marketing coordinator, told the News-Press in an email.
Elsewhere, airlines opted to switch aircrafts or cancel flights, due to warnings that the 5G could interfere with signals used by radio altimeters. These altimeters help pilots land in low-visibility conditions, on some jets and airplanes.
Airlines were scrambling at the last minute despite Verizon and AT&T agreeing to temporarily limit the launch of the C-band 5G around some airports after chief executives noted that it could cause “catastrophic” destruction, NBC News reported.
“At our sole discretion, we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment, since they have not utilized the two years they’ve had to responsibly plan for this deployment,” an AT&T spokesperson told the Hill.
“This agreement will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled,” President Joe Biden said.
A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines said the airline changed the aircraft used on certain U.S. routes “based on guidance from Boeing and in consultation with our regulators,” according to NBC News. Based on guidance from Boeing, several other airlines made similar decisions to change aircrafts.
Verizon and AT&T have said that their equipment will not interfere with the electronic systems affecting the aircraft. However, the FAA still saw a potential problem with the roll out.
On Tuesday, the companies agreed to a pause while the problem is addressed.