US FAA issues 5G wireless aviation impact advisories

A commercial plane approaches to land at San Diego International Airport as US telecommunications companies, airlines and the FAA continue to discuss the potential impact of 5G wireless services on aircraft electronics at San Diego, California, U.S., January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began issuing advisories on Thursday detailing the extent of the potential impact of new 5G wireless service on sensitive aircraft electronics.

The FAA is in talks with aircraft manufacturers, airlines and cellphone carriers to lessen the impact of new wireless service that is scheduled to begin Jan. 19.

The FAA has warned that potential interference could affect sensitive aircraft instruments like altimeters, but reported progress on Wednesday.

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AT&T (TN) and Verizon Communications (VZ.N), which won nearly all of the C-band spectrum in an $80 billion auction last year, agreed on Jan. 3 to create buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce the risk of interference. They also agreed to delay the deployment for two weeks, avoiding an aviation security stalemate.

The FAA began issuing so-called “Air Mission Advisories” at midnight Thursday local time, offering details of “aircraft with altimeters that are untested or that need to be upgraded or replaced will not be able to perform low visibility landings where 5G is deployed.”

More than 300 advisories had been posted as of 1 a.m. ET, including many around major airports and hospitals where medical helicopters are in use. The FAA did not respond to a question about the total number of publications to be released.

Many notices state that certain procedures are not available unless the FAA approves other methods of compliance “due to 5G C-band interference.”

The wireless industry provided additional transmitter location data and the FAA said it was able to determine that during the initial deployment of 5G, planes will be able to land safely in low light conditions. visibility on certain tracks without restrictions.

Some advisories contain details of the impact of instrument approaches at major airports. The FAA has determined that some GPS-guided approaches will continue to be possible at certain airports such as Miami and Phoenix.

The FAA said Wednesday that it “plans to provide updates soon on the estimated percentage of commercial aircraft equipped with altimeters that can operate reliably and accurately in the 5G C-Band environment.”

The FAA is “still working to determine which radar altimeters will be reliable and accurate with 5G C-band deployed in the United States.”

On Friday, the FAA selected 50 US airports that will have buffer zones when wireless carriers activate new 5G C-band service.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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