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FAA selects airports for 5g buffer zones

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U.S. aviation safety regulators have selected dozens of airports that would benefit from buffer zones to avoid expected flight disruptions once a new 5G wireless service goes live later this month.

The 50 airports selected by the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday include hubs for major US airlines such as Chicago’s O’Hare International and Dallas Love Field. They also include airports prone to fog and clouds, such as San Francisco International and Seattle-Tacoma International.

The FAA, which manages U.S. civilian airspace, has also prepared to issue flight restrictions to address concerns that the new 5G service scheduled to go live on January 19 could potentially interfere with flight systems. aircraft safety near airports. The flight limits, which are expected to be published as early as next week, could lead to cancellations and delays in inclement weather, industry and government officials said.

Buffer zone locations, detailed by the agency on Friday, are also planned for freight hubs like Indianapolis airports. Teterboro in northern New Jersey, the hub for private jets, made the cut, in addition to major New York City airports.

When selecting airports, the agency said it took into account factors such as their traffic volumes, locations and the number of low visibility days. The agency said it continues to work with aerospace manufacturers and wireless companies “to ensure 5G is deployed safely and to limit the risk of disruption to flights at all airports.” .

U.S. wireless executives disputed claims that the new 5G signals pose a risk to aircraft safety, but recognized the need to avoid disrupting air traffic.

A spokesperson for Airlines for America, which represents the major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers, said the group appreciates the work of the FAA to reduce 5G disruption at airports. He declined to comment on specific airports that were not on the list.

Some airports, such as Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, are not on the list because they are in areas where the new 5G service is not initially deployed, the FAA has said.

Other major airports, including those in Boston, Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, were not on the final list. The FAA has said that “the 5G towers are far enough apart that a natural buffer zone exists” at some airports. A spokesperson for the agency declined to speak to specific airports.

Kevin Burke, general manager of the Airports Council International-North America airport business group, said the FAA list was largely irrelevant. “This so-called fix will create winners and losers within the airport community, and the entire aviation system will suffer,” said Mr. Burke.

On January 3, after negotiations with federal transportation officials AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., agreed to delay the rollout of their new, faster 5G service in the spectrum known as band C. 19.

Wireless carriers have also agreed to limit their signals to around 50 airports for six months, while the FAA is working with aerospace manufacturers and airlines to validate that their planes can operate safely with the new cellular service.

The FAA has expressed concern about possible 5G interference with radar altimeters, which measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground. The devices transmit data to major cockpit systems that help planes land in bad weather and prevent crashes.

“While tests prove that some altimeters are safe, the FAA will be able to remove some restrictions on aircraft operations with these altimeters,” the agency said on its website. “The risk of disruption will gradually decrease as more and more altimeters are tested and found to be safe, upgraded or replaced.”

US airlines have recently faced other operational challenges related to winter conditions and staff shortages linked to Covid.

This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing

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