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Air India resumes flights to US

The carrier, which had to cancel several flights to the US following safety risks to Boeing B777's radio altimeters following 5G rollout there, flew six flights today
Representational image.
Representational image.
File photo.

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 21.01.22, 12:37 AM

The national carrier Air India would resume its normal service to the US from midnight on Boeing 777 aircraft after the plane manufacturer gave clearance for its operations.

The carrier, which had to cancel several flights to the US following safety risks to Boeing B777's radio altimeters following 5G rollout there, resumed its flight to the US with six flights taking off today.


Air India said on Twitter that while flight operations to and from destinations in the US were affected during the last two days, normal flights operations will recommence to and from the US “effective 0001 hrs of January 21”.

The carrier flies about 28 flights per week to different cities in the US under the air bubble arrangement.

The Air India flights that have resumed their operations from Thursday are Delhi-New York, New York-Delhi, Delhi-Chicago, Chicago-Delhi, Delhi- San Francisco and San Francisco-Delhi. Along with these six flights, two other flights — Mumbai-Newark and Newark-Mumbai — were cancelled by Air India on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Emirates, which is the favourite change flight option for Indian travellers, said from 21 January, the airline will reinstate its Boeing 777 operations to Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando and Seattle.

Emirates services to Los Angeles, New York JFK, and Washington DC remain unimpacted. Flights to Boston, Houston and San Francisco, on which the airline had temporarily deployed A380 aircraft on 20 and 21 January, will return to Boeing 777 operations on Saturday 22 January, the carrier said in a statement.

The airline in its website said it operates 78 flights per week to the US covering 12 destinations from Dubai.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had warned that the 5G rollout could interfere with cockpit instruments such as altimeters, as the C Band (3.7GHz- 3.98Ghz) for 5G services and the altimeters (4.2-4.4 GHz ) operated at similar frequency.  The move primarily impacted operations of Boeing 777 and 747s, while the FAA asked Boeing 787 operators to take “additional precautions" while landing on wet runways.

India does not use C-band for telecom services though it is used to beam television signals.The DoT had given telcos airwaves in mid-band (3.2-3.67 Ghz), sub-Ghz (700 Mhz) and mmWave band (26 Ghz) to run 5G trials. The country is yet to auction the 5G radio waves. Earlier this month, the Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP) had in a letter to the Civil Aviation Minister and DGCA expressing concern over possible interference of 5G signals with aircraft equipment.

Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had said "there is a gap of 530 MHz (from 3670 MHz to 4200 MHz) in the transmission of frequencies (in India), making it safe for 5G and aviation to co-exist."

In most countries, the 5G band occupies a lower range than in the US. For instance, in the European Union 5G frequencies sit in the 3.4 - 3.8 GHz range, while in Korea they occupy the range of 3.42 - 3.7 GHz.

Altimeters are a key for landing aircraft safely during bad weather conditions.

 when visual approach is difficult to obtain. It stated that five altimeters have been given the clearance. Aircraft models with one of five cleared altimeters include Boeing 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777. Total three carriers -- American Airlines, United Airlines and Air India -- currently operate direct flights between India and the US.

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