Verizon and AT&T had agreed to temporarily delay the rollout of their 5G network around key airports earlier this week due to ongoing objections from the FAA, who have warned that the technology could affect the readings of aircraft radar altimeters, opening up the possibility of disastrous landings in low-visibility conditions.
Airlines and technical experts have seemingly made steady progress toward a resolution that will satisfy all parties, however, as the FAA has gone ahead and cleared a majority of the U.S. commercial fleet to land at airports where 5G has been deployed following the clearing of numerous altimeters. The initial worry was that thousands of flights would have to be delayed, diverted, or canceled, but 78 percent of the fleet, which includes regional jets, can now perform low-visibility landings at 5G C-band areas, according to the FAA statement.
Models with one of 13 cleared altimeters include:
- All Boeing 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, 787
- All Airbus A300, A310, A319, A320, A321, A330, A340, A350, A380
- Some Embraer 170 & 190 regional jets
“The FAA is working diligently to determine which altimeters are reliable and accurate where 5G is deployed in the United States,” the agency added. “We anticipate some altimeters will be too susceptible to 5G interference. To preserve safety, aircraft with those altimeters will be prohibited from performing low-visibility landings where 5G is deployed because the altimeter could provide inaccurate information.”
Verizon and AT&T haven’t been happy with how the situation has been handled, arguing that the FAA have known about their 5G plans for almost two years but did not prepare accordingly. This isn’t the first time that the telecommunications companies had to delay their plans of switching on new 5G antennas near certain airports, either.
“We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner,” said AT&T spokesperson Megan Ketterer in a statement shared by CNN Business.