LONDON – Emirates’ president, Tim Clark, called the move by the US to roll out the 5G networks near the airports “utterly irresponsible”, and said that the airline was not aware of the issue until a day before the deployment.
The issue is centered around the US telephone companies operating the 5G networks on the C-band frequency and too close to the radio altimeters used onboard the aircraft.
This has prompted the airlines to either limit their flights or switch the aircraft type to the destinations. Emirates has decided to cancel its flights to nine US destinations.
Clark said that “this is one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible issues I’ve seen in my aviation career because it involves organs of government and manufacturers” to CNN.
“The notion that the United States government should sell its franchise for all the frequencies for a large amount of money – somebody should have told them at the time that the risks and dangers they placed in certain frequency use around airfields…”
Clark said that Emirates was not aware of the issues until January 18 “to the extent that it was going to compromise the safety of operation of our aircraft and just about every other 777-operator to and from the US and within.
“We were not aware that the power of the antennas in the United States has been doubled compared to what’s going on elsewhere.”
“(And) we were not aware that the antennas themselves have been put into a vertical position rather than a slightly slanting position, which when taken together compromise not only the radio altimeter systems but the flight control systems on the fly-by-wire aircraft.”
“On that basis, we took that decision late last night to suspend all our services until we had clarity.”
In a new statement on Thursday, the airline added that it was resuming services to the US cities.
“As a result of telecommunication operators delaying the roll-out of 5G networks around US airports, the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing have issued formal notifications that lift the previous restriction on aircraft operations, enabling Emirates to safely restore full scheduled operations to all its US destinations by Saturday,” the airline said.
From January 21, the airline will resume its Boeing 777 flights to Chicago, Dallas Forth Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando, and Seattle.
Emirates service to Los Angeles, New York JFK, and Washington DC remain unaffected. Flights to Boston, Houston, and San Francisco, on which the airline had temporarily deployed the A380, will return to the Boeing 777 on Saturday, January 22.