Emirates chief Sir Tim Clark has described the 5G rollout near airports in the US as utterly irresponsible.
Speaking with Richard Quest on CNN, Clark described the rollout as “one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible” in his airline career.
“We were not aware of this until Tuesday morning, to the extent it was going to compromise the safety of operation of our aircraft and just about every other 777 operators to and from the United States and within the United States,” Mr. Clark said.
At issue is the 5G frequency band being used in the US is adjacent to that used by aviation for radio altimeters.
Radio altimeters operate in the 4.2-4.4 GHz range and give precise readings of the height above the ground on approach and are critical for a range for functions such as Autoland.
Clark said while the airline was aware of the 5G issue, it was not across the fact that the power of the antennae in the US is “double compared to what’s going on elsewhere” around the world.
“So on that basis, we took that decision late last night to suspend all our services until we had clarity,” he said.
“I need to be as candid as I normally am and say this is one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible issues, I’ve seen in my aviation career.
“Somebody should have told them at the time that it would compromise the safety of operation of aircraft in metropolitan areas with catastrophic consequences if this was allowed to continue.”
US Telcos AT&T and Verizon said they would temporarily delay turning on some wireless towers near key US airport runways pending more discussions.
Emirates has suspended its operations to Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando, and Seattle.
However, its flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles, and Washington DC would continue to operate as scheduled.