The civil aviation regulator in the US has given the go-ahead to new altimeters, enabling around 78% of the nation’s commercial airline fleet to carry out landings under low-visibility conditions at airports equipped with 5G C-band.
This approval also covers some regional jets, which can now perform low-visibility landings.
In a statement, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said: “Airplane models with one of the 13 cleared altimeters include all Boeing 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, 787, MD-10/-11; all Airbus A300, A310, A319, A320, A330, A340, A350 and A380 models, as well as some Embraer 170 and 190 regional jets.
“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.”
The government agency added that it is working to identify which altimeters are ‘reliable and accurate’ in places where the 5G service is implemented in the US.
Earlier this week, the CEOs of major US airlines expressed concerns over 5G deployment, stating that it could ground planes and result in a ‘catastrophic’ aviation crisis.
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AT&T and Verizon won the majority of the C-Band spectrum by placing an $80bn bid in January last year.
However, there have been concerns that 5G could interfere with aircraft’s radar altimeters, which enable pilots to determine a jet’s altitude and operate on a frequency close to the C-Band.
To address this concern, the telecom firms have agreed to create buffer zones across 50 airports to cut down interference risks for six months.