FAA Statements on 5G
Visit our 5G and Aviation Safety page for more information.
"We recognize the economic importance of expanding 5G, and we appreciate the wireless companies working with us to protect the flying public and the country’s supply chain. The complex U.S. airspace leads the world in safety because of our high standards for aviation, and we will maintain this commitment as wireless companies deploy 5G." — U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
FAA 5G Statement issued on January 17, 2022
With safety as its core mission, the FAA will continue to ensure that the traveling public is safe as wireless companies deploy 5G. The FAA continues to work with the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations.
FAA 5G Statement issued on January 16, 2022
Today, the FAA cleared an estimated 45 percent of the U.S. commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at many of the airports where 5G C-band will be deployed on Jan. 19.
The agency approved two radio altimeter models that are installed in a wide variety of Boeing and Airbus planes. This combination of aircraft and altimeter approval opens up runways at as many as 48 of the 88 airports most directly affected by 5G C-band interference.
As of Jan. 5, none of the 88 airports would have been available for landing during low-visibility conditions. The wireless companies agreed to create buffer zones for six months around airports where transmitters are in close proximity. They also agreed to delay deployment until Jan. 19 while the FAA reviewed new data detailing the location and power of wireless transmitters in all 46 U.S. markets where this service will be deployed.
Even with these new approvals, flights at some airports may still be affected. The FAA also continues to work with manufacturers to understand how radar altimeter data is used in other flight control systems. Passengers should check with their airlines if weather is forecast at a destination where 5G interference is possible.
The airplane models approved include some Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, MD-10/-11 and Airbus A310, A319, A320, A321, A330 and A350 models. FAA expects to issue more approvals in the coming days.
FAA 5G Statement issued on January 14, 2022
The Federal Aviation Administration will require operators of Boeing 787s to take additional precautions when landing on wet or snowy runways at airports where 5G C-band service is deployed.
During the two-week delay in deploying new 5G service, safety experts determined that 5G interference with the aircraft’s radio altimeter could prevent engine and braking systems from transitioning to landing mode, which could prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway.
The Airworthiness Notification requires crews to be aware of this risk and to adopt specific safety procedures when landing on these runways.
The directive affects 137 aircraft in the United States and 1,010 worldwide.
FAA 5G Statement issued on January 13, 2022
The FAA is working to determine which radar altimeters will be reliable and accurate with 5G C-Band deployed in the United States. Since the agreement with the wireless companies was reached, the agency has made progress to safely reduce the risk of delays and cancellations as wireless companies share more data and manufacturer altimeter testing results arrive. The FAA expects to provide updates soon about the estimated percentage of commercial aircraft equipped with altimeters that can operate reliably and accurately in the 5G C-Band environment. Aircraft with untested altimeters or that need retrofitting or replacement will be unable to perform low-visibility landings where 5G is deployed, as outlined in Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs) published at 0000 EST Thursday, January 13, 2022.
FAA 5G Statement issued on January 7, 2022
The Federal Aviation Administration released the list of 50 airports that will have buffer zones when wireless companies turn on new 5G C-band service on January 19. The agency sought input from the aviation community where the proposed buffer zones would help reduce the risk of disruption. Traffic volume, the number of low-visibility days and geographic location factored into the selection.
Many airports are not currently affected by the new 5G deployment, even though they are not on this list. These include airports not in the 46 markets where the new service will be deployed and airports that do not currently have the ability to allow low-visibility landings.
The wireless companies agreed to turn off transmitters and make other adjustments near these airports for six months to minimize potential 5G interference with sensitive aircraft instruments used in low-visibility landings.
The FAA continues to work with the aerospace manufacturers and wireless companies to make sure 5G is safely deployed and to limit the risk of flight disruptions at all airports.
FAA 5G Statement issued on January 3, 2022
Safety is the core of our mission and this guides all of our decisions. The FAA thanks AT&T and Verizon for agreeing to a voluntary delay and for their proposed mitigations. We look forward to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with this 5G deployment.
- The wireless companies have offered to implement a set of mitigations comparable to measures used in some European operating environments. While U.S. standards and operating environments are unique, we believe this could substantially reduce the disruptions to air operations.
- These additional mitigations will be in place for six months around 50 airports identified as those with the greatest impact to the U.S. aviation sector.
FAA 5G Statement issued on January 2, 2022
We are reviewing the latest letter from the wireless companies on how to mitigate interference from 5G C-band transmissions. U.S. aviation safety standards will guide our next actions.
Background on Timeline
5G and aviation have safely coexisted in other countries because power levels have been reduced around airports and the industries have worked together prior to deployment. For years, we have been working to find a solution in the United States:
- Since 2015, the FAA and the world aviation industry jointly raised concerns both industries would need to address to achieve similar results and had ongoing technical discussions. In the World Radio Conference proposal, the proposal only supported an international mobile telecommunications (IMT—i.e., 5G) allocation in the 3.4 to 3.7 GHz spectrum—not the 3.7 to 3.98 GHz spectrum that is the issue for radio altimeters.
- In 2018, Boeing raised concerns and proposed a solution. Additionally, ICAO, the aviation arm of the United Nations, identified that any use of the bands near 4.2 to 4.4 GHz should be contingent upon Radio Altimeter Studies.
- In 2018, the Air Line Pilots Association raised concerns to the FCC.
- In 2020 ahead of the auction for 5G C-Band, the FAA again raised concerns and asked for a postponement to collaborate on a solution. The NTIA, the federal government coordinator on spectrum disputes, failed to put the 2020 letter into the FCC's docket.
- Throughout 2021, the aviation industry continued to ask for additional collaboration and time in anticipation of the complications we now face. The industry also held several meetings throughout the year to find solutions, including in June and October.
FAA 5G Statement issued on December 31, 2021
DOT and FAA letter to AT&T and Verizon issued on December 31, 2021.
FAA 5G Statement issued on December 23, 2021
The FAA is working with the aviation and wireless industries to find a solution that allows 5G C-band and aviation to safely coexist. While that work is underway, the FAA alerted operators that Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs) may be issued to restrict operations in areas where 5G interference is possible. It also provides additional information about aircraft systems that could be affected.
These recently published documents provide further information to operators about steps that will be required in areas potentially affected by 5G C-band interference.
FAA 5G Statement issued on December 7, 2021
The FAA believes the expansion of 5G and aviation will safely co-exist. Today, we took an important step toward that goal by issuing two airworthiness directives to provide a framework and to gather more information to avoid potential effects on aviation safety equipment. The FAA is working closely with the Federal Communications Commission and wireless companies, and has made progress toward safely implementing the 5G expansion. We are confident with ongoing collaboration we will reach this shared goal.
- AD 2021-23-12
- AD 2021-23-13
- Additional Resources
- Wireless broadband deployment will occur in phases in 46 markets beginning January 5, 2022. The FCC defines these areas as Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) 1-4, 6-10, 12-19, 21-41, and 43-50.
- The FAA issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin on November 2, 2021, that provided initial information about possible interference from 5G C-band wireless transmissions.