DALLAS – The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released a list of 50 airports in the United States that will have 5G frequency buffer zones.

The aviation sector is concerned that transmissions from 5G C-band services would interfere with sensitive aircraft equipment, particularly radio altimeters, which indicate height above the ground as planes land. These instruments are critical during operations in adverse weather and visibility.

AT&T and Verizon have previously agreed to postpone the launch of the new services twice to allow the FAA to take corrective action, as well as to take specific measures for a limited time. The new 5G services are set to be activated on January 19, 2022.

Cargolux Boeing 747-8F landing in the listed LAX airport. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

5G Operating Frequency Interference


In early December 2021, it became clear to the FAA that the rollout of a new 5G frequency band by AT&T and Verizon — the mid-spectrum 3.7 to 3.98 GHz “C-band” — could interfere with radio flight instrumentation.

Later that month, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to the two carriers requesting a two-week delay of their rollout of C-band 5G.

If the carriers did not acquiesce, the FAA would implement a new policy limiting the use of radio altimeters and automatic landing sites at airports vulnerable to 5G interference. Thousands of U.S. planes will not be able to use automated and guided landing systems that typically support pilots in poor visibility conditions.

The administration had previously released a special airworthiness information bulletin on the potential for 5G to interfere with radio altimeters in November. The European Aviation Safety Agency issued a similar bulletin the following month.

The FAA claimed in a statement on January 7, 2022, that “the wireless companies agreed to turn off transmitters and make other adjustments near these airports for six months to avoid potential 5G interference with sensitive airplane equipment used in low-visibility landings.”

However, the telecom providers have stated that 5G C-band services have been successfully introduced in other countries without compromising flight safety, most notably in France. T-Mobile operates on a spectrum that is safe for altimeters. T-5G Mobile’s service is unaffected as a result, and the company does not need to create exclusion zones.

The FAA has published further information on the distinctions between deployment in the United States and overseas.

Image: FAA

Complete Buffer-zoned Airport List


Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles International (LAX), LaGuardia (LGA), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Orlando International (MCO), and San Francisco International (SFO) are among the 50 airports included in the list.

Low visibility days, traffic volume and geographic location were all factors in the FAA’s decision, according to the agency. Some prominent airports, such as Denver International Airport (DEN) and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL), were left off the list because 5G services were not yet available.

Below is the list of airports that will have the Verizon and AT&T exclusion zones. 

  • AUS – AUSTIN-BERGSTROM INTL
  • BED – LAURENCE G HANSCOM FLD
  • BFI – BOEING FLD/KING COUNTY INTL
  • BHM – BIRMINGHAM-SHUTTLESWORTH INTL
  • BNA – NASHVILLE INTL
  • BUR – BOB HOPE
  • CAK – AKRON-CANTON
  • CLT – CHARLOTTE/DOUGLAS INTL
  • DAL – DALLAS LOVE FLD
  • DFW – DALLAS-FORT WORTH INTL
  • DTW – DETROIT METRO WAYNE COUNTY
  • EFD – ELLINGTON
  • EWR – NEWARK LIBERTY INTL
  • FAT – FRESNO YOSEMITE INTL
  • FLL – FORT LAUDERDALE/HOLLYWOOD INTL
  • FNT – FLINT MICHIGAN
  • HOU – WILLIAM P HOBBY
  • HVN – NEW HAVEN
  • IAH – GEORGE BUSH INTCNTL/HOUSTON
  • IND – INDIANAPOLIS INTL
  • ISP – LONG ISLAND MAC ARTHUR
  • JFK – JOHN F KENNEDY INTL
  • LAS – HARRY REID INTL
  • LAX – LOS ANGELES INTL
  • LGA – LAGUARDIA
  • LGB – LONG BEACH (DAUGHERTY FLD)
  • MCI – KANSAS CITY INTL
  • MCO – ORLANDO INTL
  • MDT – HARRISBURG INTL
  • MDW – CHICAGO MIDWAY INTL
  • MFE – MCALLEN INTL
  • MIA – MIAMI INTL
  • MSP – MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL INTL/WOLD-CHAMBERLAIN
  • ONT – ONTARIO INTL
  • ORD – CHICAGO O’HARE INTL
  • PAE – SNOHOMISH COUNTY (PAINE FLD)
  • PBI – PALM BEACH INTL
  • PHL – PHILADELPHIA INTL
  • PHX – PHOENIX SKY HARBOR INTL
  • PIE – ST PETE-CLEARWATER INTL
  • PIT – PITTSBURGH INTL
  • RDU – RALEIGH-DURHAM INTL
  • ROC – FREDERICK DOUGLASS/GREATER ROCHESTER INTL
  • SEA – SEATTLE-TACOMA INTL
  • SFO – SAN FRANCISCO INTL
  • SJC – NORMAN Y MINETA SAN JOSE INTL
  • SNA – JOHN WAYNE/ORANGE COUNTY
  • STL – ST LOUIS LAMBERT INTL
  • SYR – SYRACUSE HANCOCK INTL
  • TEB – TETERBORO

Featured image: United Airlines Boeing 787-9 N29978 at the listed San Francisco International Airport. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways. Article source: aerotime.aero