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FAA Preps for Tower Lighting Changes

Feds working on new forms so broadcasters, other owners can apply to turn off some lights

The Federal Aviation Administration is revising the form that broadcasters and other tower owners would use to ask for the okay to alter their tower lights.

We recently reported that federal wildlife biologists suggested that fewer migratory birds would die each year if steady red obstruction lights for towers taller than 351 feet were turned off, and blinking lights left on. The study, now on the FAA’s website, suggests air safety would not suffer due to the change.

“The results showed that flashing the steady-burning lights was acceptable for small towers (151 to 350 feet in height) and that they could be omitted on taller towers (over 351 feet) so long as the remaining brighter, flashing lights were operational,” state researchers in the study for the FAA. The FAA’s proposed tower lighting changes are in “Appendix C.”

Based on the results of this research, the FAA wants to make specific changes to the tower obstruction lighting standards, including a proposal to flash or omit steady-burning red lights from several obstruction lighting configurations.

The FAA is revising Advisory Circular 70/7460-1K, Obstruction Marking and Lighting. Those who want to turn off the steady red lights on the approved towers must electronically file for what is basically a waiver, using the FAA’s “Deviation from Red Obstruction Light Standards.”

This is welcome news, since broadcast tower owners have a lot of questions about the procedures for turning off some of their tall tower lights, and hopefully reducing some of their power costs.

An official told one of our readers who owns a radio station and its AM array that the FAA hopes to have the new form and other changes on its website ready in two weeks’ time to accommodate those who want to file for the change.

In December, the agency that handles tower enforcement issues for broadcasters, the FCC, began requiring formal public notice and requiring for new towers taller than 450 feetan environmental assessment of the potential impact on migratory birds.

FAA Prefers Flashing Tower Lights