With New FAA Lighting Regs, Make Sure You Read the Fine Print

 UPDATE Our January 9 story about what the FCC is instructing tall tower owners to do to comply with the latest FAA lighting changes was accurate, but left out one important detail, according to Wade Collins, Director of Business Development for Flash Technology. That is, be sure to investigate the changes and costs associated with converting your existing lighting system to confirm it is capable of meeting the new requirements.

In December 2015, the FAA revised tower lighting recommendations, replacing FAA Advisory Circular 7460-1K with a new version, FAA Advisory Circular 7460-1L.

Flash Technology highlights these points:

  • Towers less than 350 feet are required to flash the L-810 marker lights in unison with the L-864 red beacon.
  • Both the L-864 red beacon and the L-810 marker lights should flash at 30 flashes/minute.
  • Extinguishment of a flashing marker is now a NOTAM reportable outage.
  • Towers over 350 feet no longer require L-810 markers, however the L-864 red beacons are required to flash at 30 flashes/minute. 

To recap, the FCC is encouraging tower owners of older 1K filed towers taller than 350 feet to extinguish the L-810, non-flashing red markers completely, but remember, this is only approved if the flash rate of the L-864 red beacons can be increased to 30 flashes/minute. For towers 150-350 feet tall, reprogram the L864 and L-810 lights to flash synchronously at 30 flashes/minute. The point is to help make the tower less attractive to migratory birds and also reduce operation costs.

So-called “avian configurations” were available prior to 70/7460-1L through an FAA waiver. Under 70/7460-1L however, all new tower filings and refiles of existing towers must meet the avian configuration, according to the company. A tower must be re-filed if the lighting type or tower height changes.

However, Collins tells Inside Towers not all red lights are capable of changing from the previous 1K 20 flashes/minute rate to 30. If incandescent and Xenon technologies could handle the increased flash rate, it would likely reduce the bulb life significantly, therefore wiping out any anticipated maintenance cost-savings, he said. In general, newer LED systems were designed to address flashing markers and the increased flash rate, according to Collins.  Any alterations to a lighting system should be approved by the OEM to confirm the ETL certification would not been compromised.

His advice? “Investigate your lighting system to see if it’s capable of this revision, especially regarding 30 flashes/minute.” He cautions tower owners to find this out first before re-filing with the FAA. We covered how to do that here.

January 11, 2018

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