FAA Quells Pilot Panic By Clearing 78 Percent Of US Airlines For Safe Landing In 5G Hotspots

Delta Airlines
Greater than three-fourths of US commercial fleet have been cleared for landing at airports where wireless companies have deployed 5G C-band, the Federal Aviation Administration has announced. The expanded approvals (up from less than two-thirds earlier this week), which now include some regional jets, comes on the heels of an open letter by several US airlines warning that the C-band roll out "could potentially strand tens of thousands of American overseas" if immediate action is not taken.

The letter included signatures of CEOs from Alaska Air Group, American Airlines, Atlas Air Worldwide, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines Holdings, UPS Airlines, and Airlines for America. The overarching concern was that the deployment of 5G C-band could interfere with in-flight altimeters, causing a "catastrophic disruption" within the airline industry.

Since then, the FAA has cleared 13 altimeters for safe use within range of 5G C-band towers, including all Boeing 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, 787, and MD-10/-11 aircraft; all Airbus A300, A310, A319, A320, A330, A340, A350, and A380 models; and some Embraer 170 and190 regional jets.

"The FAA is working diligently to determine which altimeters are reliable and accurate where 5G is deployed in the United States. 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 FAA said.

Companies like AT&T and Verizon have spent tens of billions of dollars on 5G C-band to provide faster and far reaching service for customers. Amid pressure from the FAA, those two carries agreed to an initial two-week delay before launching upgraded 5G networks.

American Airlines CEO Doug Peter commended during an earnings call, "The good news is we now have what should have been going on for quite some time, which is the manufacturers, the telecoms, the government agencies all sharing information that they need to make sure that this can be rolled out in a way that all Americans get 5G and all Americans know that their flights aren't going to be impacted by that 5G."

Peter also expressed confidence that there would not be any significant disruptions from this point on, due to 5G roll outs.