FAA issues list of 50 airports with 5G buffer zone

FAA issues list of 50 airports with 5G buffer zone

12-Jan-2022 Source: FAA

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.

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