SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The new rollout of 5G technology by Verizon and AT&T was still scheduled for Tuesday at midnight but with some new concessions after the nation’s airlines raised concerns about potential safety issues.
“Airlines are worried, saying they don’t know if this is possible to do safely,” said Scott Keyes, a travel expert who operates Scott’s Cheap Flights.
Keyes says airlines are worried that new 5G technology may affect a plane’s landing equipment.
“This is about an airplane’s altimeter which tells the pilot how far off the ground is this airplane,” said Keyes.
He says that’s of special concern in inclement or foggy weather.
“The worry is that this new C-Band of the 5G spectrum could have an impact on the reading from those altimeters and cause airplanes to not necessarily say accurately where they are in relation to the ground. And so this is why the FAA is warning that they might have to cancel hundreds or thousands of flights if the issue is not resolved,” said Keyes.
Keyes says the potential safety problem would not affect all of the nation’s airports, but it would affect the dozens where new ground cell phone towers have been built nearby.
Spokesmen say the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport would not be affected by any changes. So, local passengers can start their flights without issues but could be affected when making connections to those larger airports where the 5G technology is scheduled to be deployed.
“Folks flying from you know, Savannah to a nearby airport that does have this as a concern should be aware,” said Keyes. “If you’re flying to Austin, if you’re flying to Birmingham, if you’re flying to Nashville, if you’re flying to Dallas this could potentially have an impact.”
Keyes also said this 5G switch has been in the works for up to two years and that telecom companies say they’ve had rollouts in 40 other countries without issues.
“I think their gripe here would be that the FAA and the airlines dragged their heels in preparing for this day that they knew was coming,” he said.
So for now, a rollout but not near the affected airports.
“I think the airlines just feel like they need to have more study in order to be able to say conclusively that this is safe or not safe,” said Keyes.