What Color is Your Tower Light? NATE Webinar Details Options

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Recent changes to FAA regulations for tower lighting and marking affect everyone who owns or climbs a structure.

Some changes went into effect last year and others have recently kicked-in. In a NATE webinar, Flash Technology Director of Business Development Wade Collins discussed new FAA 70/7460- 1L standards for obstruction lighting and marking as well as changes under the 7460-1L that became effective in December of 2015.

Owners can choose how they want to mark their towers for day and night. Day options are paint or white flashing lights (xenon or LED). Night marking options are white flashing lights (xenon or LED) or red flashing lights (xenon, LED and incandescent).

One change under Advisory Circular 70/7460-1K involves a Notice to Airmen. Any time a top tower light or flashing obstruction light fails, regardless of its position, you have to file a NOTAM with the FAA if the problem isn’t corrected within 30 minutes, advises Collins.  

Much of the 70/7460-1K went into effect last year, however portions regarding the L-810 lighting became mandatory on September 15 of this year. “NOTAMS now fall under a 15-day window,” explained Collins. Tower owners can now select the amount of time their NOTAMs remain active, including naming the return to service date.

Another big change concerns 1L Type A and E towers (250 to 350 feet tall). Red steady markers are now required to flash. The rules had been about 20 flashes per minute. Now L-810 markers are required to flash at 30 flashes per minute. For FAA Type A and E towers taller than 350 feet, no markers are required if the system can be adjusted to 30 flashes per minute. They can be set at medium intensity, for FAA Type D towers up to 700 feet, he said.

The so-called 7/8-inch rule has been re-introduced and nesting is now defined. The FAA now says obstruction lights can’t be blocked or “nested” as new antennas or hardware are installed. Lights must be raised or moved if new gear on top of the tower would block them.

Light fixture lenses must be visually inspected every 24 months to prevent “crazing” or dirt buildup that would deteriorate the light output. Light shields and shades are no longer permitted; the FAA says they promote snow accumulation, bird nesting and wind loading.

The FAA must be notified at least 45 days before tower construction would begin; the old limit was 30 days.   

December 1, 2016

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