The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered the creation of buffer zones around 50 airports where the use of 5G C-band communication devices will be banned. The ban will be valid for six months from Jan. 19, 2022, when the new 5G systems will be launched by the American telecom operators AT&T and Verizon.
During this time, FAA experts will study the impact of 5G C-band devices on the functioning of airport and aviation systems. In particular, those are systems that facilitate landing in difficult weather conditions. There are concerns that 5G signals using the 3700-3998 MHz frequency could interfere with signals from radar altimeters operating in the 4200-4400 MHz band. The telecom operators say there is no evidence that such disruptions will occur, but the FAA estimates no proof that they won't.
The FAA chose the airports where the threat is potentially greatest. The choice was based on location, traffic, and the likelihood of poor visibility. Among the airports listed were particularly the busiest ones, such as Chicago O'Hare, Orlando International, Los Angeles International, and Dallas/Fort Worth International, as well as airports in areas of frequent fog, such as Seattle/Tacoma International and San Francisco International.
Both Verizon and AT&T originally planned to turn on their 5G C-band devices on Dec. 5, 2021, but concerns about aviation safety forced them to postpone it twice. The FAA originally intended to delay the launch until Jan. 5, 2022. In the end, the agency and operators agreed to turn the service on Jan. 19, giving the FAA extra time to analyze potential threats to airport systems.
In late 2021, the FAA drafted NOTAMs for 46 airports if it couldn't be agreed with 5G operators. If released, it would seriously impact airline operations and many charters and business aircraft. In this situation, the publication of NOTAMs will probably be unnecessary.
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