WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration has given the go-ahead for 45% of the U.S. commercial plane fleet to continue to perform low-visibility landings when 5G wireless service rolls out on Wednesday.
Aviation regulators and airline officials have raised concerns that impending 5G service near airports could interfere with altimeters, which measure an aircraft’s height above the ground. Data from altimeters is used to help pilots land when visibility is poor.
The devices operate on a portion of the radio spectrum that is close to the range used by the new 5G service, called C-Band.
The FAA said Sunday it has approved two radio altimeter models that are used 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," the FAA said in its statement.
Even with the new low-visibility approvals, the FAA warned that flights at some airports may still be affected.
"Passengers should check with their airlines if weather is forecast at a destination where 5G interference is possible," the FAA said in its statement.
On Monday, the chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others warned the 5G rollout could lead to a “catastrophic” aviation crisis, according to Reuters.
Reuters reported the executives warned in a letter that "Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,"
AT&T and Verizon have twice agreed to postpone activating their new networks because of concerns raised by aviation groups and the FAA
Under an agreement with the telecom companies, the FAA designated 50 airports that will have buffer zones in which the companies will turn off 5G transmitters or make other changes to limit potential interference through early July.
The 50 include the three major airports in the New York City area — LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty — O’Hare and Midway in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth International, Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Los Angeles International and San Francisco.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.