The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration seems to have found a workaround for the 5G issues that started to impact flights a few weeks ago: It just approved additional altimeters that will allow about 90 percent of the U.S. commercial aviation fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports near 5G hubs.
According to Reuters, the FAA said it cleared seven more altimeters, bringing the total number of approved altimeters to 20.
Radio altimeters are used to give data on height above ground for bad-weather plane landings. The issue was essentially that the FAA and certain airlines feared planes wouldn’t be able to safely land in low-visibility conditions, since the 5G waves were broadcast on a very similar radio wavelength.
Earlier this month, communication giants AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the implementation of new telecom towers near some airports as they rolled it out all over the rest of the country. Before this, thousands of flights were delayed over fears from airlines.
Verizon agreed to temporarily not turn on about 500 towers near airports, according to Reuters.
Some U.S, airlines are still concerned about Verizon’s plans to turn them on February 1.
On Tuesday, the FAA also published an airworthiness directive on the Boeing 777 and 747-8 aircrafts. It said the interference may impact multiple airplane systems using radio altimeter data. However, the directive doesn’t prevent any operations at nearly all large U.S. airports.
But why is 5G causing all of this interference? Well, it comes down to radio waves — C-band to be specific. The frequencies of both 5G and airline altimeters are very close to one another and could theoretically interfere with one another.
It led to quite the back and forth between the FAA, airlines and telecommunications companies. Only time will tell if these new altimeters are just a stop-gap fix or a more permanent solution to these issues.