FAA Clears Nearly Half of U.S. Airliners To Operate in 5G Areas

 - January 17, 2022, 9:29 AM

The FAA has cleared about 45 percent of the U.S. commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at many of the airports where telecommunications companies Verizon and AT&T expect to deploy 5G C-band this coming Wednesday.

In a statement, the agency said it approved two radio altimeter models installed in a “wide variety” of Boeing and Airbus airplanes. The combination of aircraft and altimeter approval opens runways at as many as 48 of the 88 airports most directly affected by 5G C-band interference, it added. 

As of January 5, none of the 88 airports would have been available for landing during low-visibility conditions. The wireless companies agreed to create buffer zones for six months around airports near transmitters. They also agreed to delay deployment until January 19 while the FAA reviewed new data detailing the location and power of wireless transmitters in all 46 markets where the companies will deploy the service.

Even with the new approvals, the deployments could affect flights at some airports, said the FAA. The agency also continues to work with manufacturers to understand how other flight control systems use radar altimeter data. Passengers should check with their airlines if forecasts call for bad weather at a destination susceptible to 5G interference. 

The airplane types approved include some Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, and MD-10/-11 models and Airbus A310, A319, A320, A321, A330, and A350 models. The FAA said it expects to issue more approvals “in the coming days.” 

The Boeing 787 remains one model conspicuously missing from the list. On Friday the FAA told operators to take extra measures when landing on snowy or wet runways at airports affected by the 5G deployments to ensure against signal interference from delaying activation of systems such as thrust reversers.