5G buffer zones will be established in 50 US airports: Federal Aviation Administration

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday released a list of 50 U.S. airports that will have buffer zones when wireless carriers turn on the new 5G C-band service on Jan. 19.

AT&T and Verizon agreed on Monday to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce the risk of interference from potential interference with sensitive aircraft instruments such as altimeters. They also agreed to postpone the deployment by two weeks in order to avert an aviation security breach.

The list includes airports in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

The FAA said this does not “necessarily” mean that low visibility flights cannot operate at non-50 airports.

AT&T and Verizon, which won almost the entire C-band spectrum in an $ 80 billion auction last year, declined to comment.

On Thursday, the FAA reiterated warnings that 5G radio service could continue to disrupt flights despite the deal, saying, “Even with the temporary buffer of around 50 airports, 5G deployment will increase the risk of interference in low visibility,” including ” Flight cancellations, rerouted flights, and delays during periods of low visibility. “

Some major airports like Denver, Atlanta, and Ronald Reagan Washington National are not on the list because 5G is not yet in use, while others are not on the list because “5G towers are far enough away for a natural buffer” .

Other unlisted airports are currently unable to allow landings with low visibility, the FAA said. The delay would allow him to evaluate ways to minimize disruption and give companies more time to prepare.

“If there is a potential for risk to the airborne audience, we are required to pause the activity until we can prove it is safe,” said the FAA.

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke, who heads the Association of US and Canadian Airports, said Friday the FAA list is “largely irrelevant as the entire aviation system is impacted by this poorly planned and coordinated expansion of 5G service will”. in and around airports. “He said that” the so-called solution will produce winners and losers within the airport community, and the entire aviation system will suffer under the terms of this agreement. “

Airlines for America, a trading group that represents US passenger and cargo airlines, said it recognizes the “FAA efforts to implement mitigation for airports that may be hardest hit by disruptions from the deployment of the new 5G service.”

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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