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Radar-Based Tower Safety System Proposed

Can turning off obstruction lights when not needed save electricity and be safe?

A company is proposing a new type of collision warning system for communications towers, according to a newsletter from Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth, a law firm specializing in communications issues.

OCAS’ proposed Obstacle Collision Avoidance System uses a radar to monitor a tower’s area. When an approaching plane or helicopter enters a predetermined range the radar will activate the tower’s lights. If the vehicle continues to approach a short-range VHF radio will issue a warning on multiple aviation frequencies, FHH reports.

The system would also be usable for other tall structures such as windmills.

OCAS has made a proposal to the FCC to add a new Subsection T to modify Part 87, according to newsletter contributor Anne G. Crump.

The company was formed by two former military pilots and is similar to proximity alarm systems in other locations and applications. The newsletter entertains the possibility that such a system would be energy efficient by limiting the amount of time that a tower’s lights are lit.