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The US FAA handles 45% of the commercial aircraft after 5G widespread

WASHINGTON, January 16 (Reuters) - The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Sunday that it had released an estimated 45% of the US commercial aircraft fleet to make poorly visible landings at many airports where 5G C-bands will be deployed from and with Wednesday.

The FAA has warned that potential interference can affect sensitive aircraft instruments such as altimeters and have an impact on low visibility operations.

U.S. passenger and cargo airlines have sounded the alarm to senior officials that the problem is far from solved and could have a serious impact on flights and the supply chain.

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"Even with the approvals given by the FAA today, US airlines will not be able to operate the vast majority of passenger and cargo flights due to FAA's 5G-related flight restrictions unless action is taken prior to the scheduled rollout. on January 19. " said Airlines for America, a trading group representing American Airlines (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), Fedex (FDX.N) and other airlines.

The FAA approved two radio altimeter models used in many Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including some Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, MD-10 / -11 and Airbus A310, A319, A320, A321, A330 and A350 models. The announcement came a few days before AT&T (TN) and Verizon (VZ.N) launch new 5G service on Wednesday. The FAA said it expects to issue more approvals in the coming days.

The FAA said the flight and altitude approvals open "runways at as many as 48 of the 88 airports most directly affected by 5G C-band interference." But the agency warned that "even with these new approvals, flights at some airports may still be affected."

Reuters reviewed the 36-page list of runways covered by the approvals, which have not yet been made public - and it does not include many major US airports.

Plane sits on the tarmac at Columbia Metro Airport in West Columbia, South Carolina, USA, on January 8, 2022. REUTERS / Sam Wolfe

The FAA told Boeing in a letter Sunday reviewed by Reuters that it provided approvals for specific runways and aircraft with certain altimeters "because the susceptibility to interference from 5G C-band emissions has been minimized."

AT&T and Verizon, which won nearly the entire C-Band spectrum at a $ 80 billion auction last year, agreed on January 3 to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks and take other steps to reduce potential interference in six months. . They also agreed to postpone the broadcast for two weeks, which averted a safety stop in aviation.

The FAA on Thursday issued nearly 1,500 announcements describing the extent of the potential impact of 5G services.

"Passengers should check with their airlines whether the weather forecast is at a destination where 5G interference is possible," the FAA said Sunday.

On January 7, the FAA unveiled the 50 U.S. airports that will have 5G buffer zones, including in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Detroit, Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle and Miami.

However, airlines are warning that buffer zones may not be enough to prevent flight disruptions at these airports.

On Thursday, Airports Council International - North America called for a delay in 5G implementation to avoid widespread disruption to the US air transportation system.

On Friday, the FAA said it would require Boeing 787 operators to take additional precautions when landing on some wet or snow-covered runways.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Edited by Nick Zieminski and Gerry Doyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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