FAA Proposed Tower Marking, Lighting Include Structures 50 Feet and Up

UPDATE The FCC’s recent support of more stringent tower lighting regulations instituted by the FAA has many revisiting those guidelines from a year ago. The FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016” passed by Congress last year required the FAA to issue regulations within a year requiring so-called “covered” towers to be clearly marked. This is a tower between 50 to 200 feet AGL that is self-standing or supported by guy wires and ground anchors, is 10 feet or less in diameter at the above-ground base, excluding concrete footing and has “accessory facilities” on which an antenna, sensor, camera, meteorological instrument, or other equipment is mounted.

The new law was meant to improve air safety, especially for crop dusting pilots, from temporary meteorological testing towers (METs). However FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly stated last week that he fears, without exception, the changes “will force expensive retrofits to potentially 50,000 existing towers, such as wireless communications and certain broadcast towers, all new towers that meet the broad definition, and raise tower prices for the next generation of wireless services,” Inside Towers reported. 

Much of the FAA 70/7460-1L guidelines for obstruction lighting and marking went into effect in 2015, however the flashing L-810 lighting became mandatory last September 15, 2016. The FAA could make the entire circular mandatory within a year of enactment.  

The text of FAA Advisory Circular 70/7460-1L reads: “Standards for voluntary marking of meteorological evaluation towers (METs), less than 200 feet above ground level (AGL), has been added to provide recommendations towards increasing conspicuity of these structures, particularly for low-level agricultural flight operations. These standards include those for lighting and marking of the tower and associated guy wires.”

One change from the previous guidelines, owners can choose how they want to mark their towers for day and night, according to Flash Technology Director of Business Development Wade Collins, who discussed the changes in a NATE webinar Inside Towers covered in December. 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).

March 14, 2017   

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