US airlines report minor impact from switching on 5G services

In a statement the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said, following the rollout of 5G services in airports, its impact on air travels has seen only a minor impact.

“The increased approvals for Boeing and Airbus planes meant an estimated 62% of U.S. commercial planes could perform bad-weather landings at some airports, up from 45% previously,” said the FAA.

Many international carriers have canceled flights to the United States or have switched aircraft on concerns that powerful 5G airwaves could interfere with airplane systems.

Late on Tuesday, Verizon Communications and AT&T agreed to delay switching on new telecom towers near key airports although they did turn on the new 5G C-Band service.

The FAA has cleared aircraft using another three radio altimeters, which are used to give data on height above grounds for bad-weather landings.

In a statement American Airlines said it had seen a “minor operational impact” including delays and four cancellations as a result of the new 5G service; it also reported additional impact to its regional fleets.

American Airlines expects the FAA to soon issue additional approvals “for our Airbus and regional fleets” and anticipated “minor disruptions at some airports due to the remaining 5G restrictions.”

Southwest Airlines said initially “because of favorable weather conditions, we anticipate very minimal impact on our operation.”

“Airplane models with one of the five cleared altimeters include some Boeing (BA.N) 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, MD-10/-11 and Airbus (AIR.PA) A300, A310, A319, A320, A330, A340, A350 and A380 models,” said the FAA.

“Even with these approvals, flights at some airports may still be affected,” cautioned the FAA.

US President Joe Biden said he had “pushed as hard I can to have the 5G folks hold up and abide by what was being requested by the airlines.”

According to sources, Verizon will temporarily not switch on nearly 500 towers near airports, which is equivalent to less than 10% of their planned deployment; carriers and the FAA are working on a permanent solution.

“We are confident a review of the aviation concerns around those towers near airports will go fast”, said Verizon’s CEO Hans Vestberg.

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