WASHINGTON — US Transport Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, announced on Tuesday that the July 1 deadline for airlines to retrofit aircraft with new sensors to address potential 5G interference remains unchanged, despite warnings of travel disruptions from airlines struggling to meet the deadline. 

Telecom companies had previously delayed their 5G rollout to allow airlines more time for adjustments.

The C-Band spectrum, used for 5G in the US, has raised concerns among aviation companies and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who fear it could interfere with aircraft altimeters that measure a plane's height above the ground. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) claims the deadline could lead to travel disruptions during the peak northern summer season, with supply chain problems making it unlikely for all planes to be retrofitted by the deadline. Retrofitting costs are estimated at US$638m.

IATA's Nick Careen argued that airlines were not at fault for the situation, attributing it to poor government planning and coordination. On Tuesday, the FAA also proposed new rules for nearly 20,000 Boeing aircraft worldwide due to potential 5G interference. These regulations would require updated flight manuals, prohibit certain landings, and introduce new landing and approach procedures.

Boeing is collaborating with suppliers, regulators, airlines, and telecom companies to ensure long-term stability and minimize operational restrictions, according to a company spokesperson. The Radar Altimeter, a critical instrument for safety and navigation in various types of aircraft, operates in the 4.2 to 4.4 GHz band and is at risk of harmful interference from 5G base stations and user equipment operating in the 3.7–4.2 GHz frequency band, as per a 2020 study by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA). The interference could result in the loss of radar altitude information or the generation of incorrect radar altitude data.