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Burned-Out Tower Lights Draw $10,400 Citation

FCC says owner failed to notify FAA

This story originally appeared in TV Technology.

A Washington-area utility is being fined $10,400 for letting the lights go out on its antenna and not notifying federal flight authorities right away. Washington Gas of Springfield, Va., was cited by the Federal Communications Commission this week over a lighting outage on its antenna structure located in Prince Frederick, Md.

“The Enforcement Bureau alleged that Washington Gas failed to exhibit required lighting on its antenna structure, notify the Federal Aviation Administration immediately of the lighting outage, and inform the commission regarding its purchase of the antenna structure,” the FCC Forfeiture Order states.

Washington Gas pleaded for a reduction in the fine, saying it did notify the FAA before the FCC investigated the situation and had a history of compliance. The FCC contends Washington didn’t notify the FAA until after the investigation. FCC rules require tower owners to “immediately” report to the FAA lighting outages lasting longer than 30 minutes.

“By its own admission, Washington Gas knew about the lighting outage by Oct. 15, 2010, but did not notify the FAA until Oct. 19, 2010,” the Order said.

Washington Gas was originally levied a $13,000 fine in September of 2011 in a Notice of Apparent Liability. The commission down-adjusted it to $10,400 based on Washington Gas’ otherwise clean record.