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5G cellphone service causing airport delays and canceled flights nationally and at Santa Barbara Airport

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Cellphone providers rolled out faster 5G service across the county this week. While it’s great for cellphones, it’s not so great for some airplanes and airports.

The 5G signals are impacting flights. The signal interferes with some plane’s altimeter which helps the pilot know how high above the ground they are in poor visibility like rain or fog.

Henry Harteveldt is an airline industry analyst. He said, “This could have a disproportionate effect on people who live in midsized or smaller towns where they’re dependent on smaller airplanes that are not on the approved list.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration wrote, “The FAA issued new approvals Wednesday that allow an estimated 62 percent of the U.S. commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports where wireless companies deployed 5G C-band.”

AT&T and Verizon showing they have 5G coverage at Santa Barbara Airport. However, Santa Barbara Airport’s airport operation manager, Aaron Keller, said the 5G service won’t impact planes landing or taking off at SBA

“Flight operations remain normal as they have been in the past,” said Keller. “And we anticipate that moving forward. I can tell you nationwide there are some impacts, specifically to altimeters and things of that nature. But here locally, no impact.”

However, getting to SBA could be a problem. Two Alaska Airline flights Wednesday were canceled one leaving Seattle for Santa Barbara and the return Santa Barbara flight back to Seattle. And a representative at Alaska Airlines confirmed the plane didn’t leave Seattle due to 5G at Sea-Tac.

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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.

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