After months of mismanagement – encompassing everything from the debacle in Afghanistan to mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic – the Biden administration has narrowly avoided stumbling into another crisis on the rollout of 5G technology. As previously planned, 5G was set to ignite a disastrous outcome for our country’s airlines and cargo carriers.
In an urgent letter issued on January 17, the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, UPS Airlines, and FedEx Express, wrote of the approaching danger in 5G, highlighting the threat of “significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain, and delivery of needed medical supplies.” The root of the problem for carriers on 5G lies in an aircraft’s instruments, more specifically the vital radio altimeter which is impacted by the spectrum utilized by providers.
Since they became involved, the president and his team badly botched several flailing attempts to arrive at a permanent resolution. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Communications Commission, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and the White House failed multiple times to produce a lasting fix that would head off the crisis.
In addition, after weeks of haggling between airlines, the administration, and the telecom industry, the FAA was forced to clear commercial aircraft where 5G will be deployed, and only managed to do so for 45 percent before 5G went live on January 19. Once again, the administration was far behind; saying it was just “late” would be a charitable description.
If 5G was activated as scheduled, the result could have been devastating for Americans. Thousands of passengers would have been stranded at airports around the country – as well as across the world – while tons of cargo would sit idle on tarmacs, aggravating the supply chain crunch affecting countless businesses. Instead, the rollout merely sparked off cancellations and delays in certain markets, while the FAA continues its assessments and discussions.
In other nations around the globe, countries have successfully introduced 5G without setting off a cascade of catastrophic side effects. However, the federal government has, so far, been unable to match their competence.
President Joe Biden and his administration are no stranger to courting failure – they have bungled a variety of diverse issues over the past year. Other than the supply chain woes continuing to plague store shelves in American communities, they have proven unable to tame inflation or increasing energy prices, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage with conflicting messaging coming from the federal government. The American people have come to expect the worst from the Biden administration, reflected in the President’s shrinking job approval numbers which plunged to a stunning 35 percent in a recent Quinnipiac survey.
For this latest crisis, the administration must act to reach a lasting compromise or face another series of catastrophes, rattling an exhausted public and causing even more to question the current leadership.