An estimated 62% of the U.S. aviation fleet is approved to perform low-visibility landings at most airports without fear of interference from 5G mobile phone service, according to aviation regulators.
New safety buffers agreed to on Tuesday by wireless companies also allowed an expansion to the number of airports where flights can safely operate, the Federal Aviation Administration said in an emailed statement Wednesday.
The agency issued its first major update since AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. began using new frequency bands for fast 5G mobile phone service in dozens of metropolitan regions around the U.S. The radio waves are close to those used by aircraft radar altimeters and the FAA has said there is a risk that they could cause interference.
“Even with these approvals, flights at some airports may still be affected,” the FAA said in the statement.
The announcement by the FAA significantly increases the percentage of aircraft that are at least somewhat exempt from 5G flight restrictions. On Sunday, the agency said it had cleared 48% of aircraft.
The agency approvals include most Boeing Co. and Airbus SE models, including Boeing’s 777, which was left off of the list on Sunday. Several foreign carriers had canceled flights to the U.S. on the 777 after Boeing issued a warning to its operators.
The expansion occurred because three additional models of altimeters were found to be resistant to interference from 5G, the FAA said. It had earlier cleared two altimeter models.
Absent from the list of cleared aircraft are any of the regional jet models that perform roughly half of all scheduled airline flights.
The clearances allow planes to perform low-visibility landings “where wireless companies deployed 5G C-band,” the FAA said.
“The FAA also continues to work with manufacturers to understand how radar altimeter data is used in other flight control systems,” the agency said. “Passengers should check with their airlines for latest flight schedules.”