The following is excerpted from the�Alabama Broadcasters Association�s�weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to Larry Wilkins, who puts together the content and has shared it with Radio magazine readers. To subscribe to the newsletter, send an email to�[email protected], and he will add you to the database.
The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration require broadcasters to ensure tower lights are properly maintained. This should be old news, but the commission still issues fines for improperly maintained lights, which can pose a safety hazard for aircraft. The rules are worth a quick review.
The antenna structure�s registered owner is required to paint and light the tower � and check once every 24 hours that the lights are working, or set up an alarm system that will automatically notify them of a failure. If/when the lights do go out and cannot be fixed within 30 minutes, the owner must immediately phone the nearest Flight Service Station or office of the Federal Aviation Administration any observed or otherwise known extinguishment or improper functioning of any top steady burning light or any flashing obstruction light. Then, an outage report must also be filed.
Also, the FCC requires licensees to �establish monitoring procedures and schedules� for each station (FCC rule 73.1350 (c)).
Wilkins interprets this as meaning that engineers should keep a maintenance log with dates and times when the transmission system was inspected and any corrections made to comply with the station authorization.
He also quotes Atlanta FCC Regional Director Ronald Ramage as explaining, �The rules do not specify what that schedule is or that it be in writing, only that they have one. As long as they are in compliance, then it is assumed they have a schedule that is often enough to keep the station in order. However, if a station is found operating out of tolerance and the station personnel cannot tell me how often they check their parameters, then they probably don’t have a schedule, or one that is sufficient enough to keep in complaint. In that case, I will have the licensee provide in writing whatever their schedule is. That usually prompts them to create one, if they haven’t already.�
If you don�t have a set maintenance schedule, now would be a good time to draft one for your station.