Last December, the FAA established new obstruction lighting and marking rules, and Wireless Estimator developed a handy industry reference tool that breaks down and easily explains the 90-page document’s changes from the previous advisory circular.
However, the most current regulations will likely be changed again by the FAA within the next year when certain towers, in the 50-to-200-foot in height range will be required to be marked.
When the president signed the “FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016,” legislation allowing the FAA to continue operations through Sept. 30, 2017, tucked away in the 51-page rule was Section 2110. TOWER MARKING, a new requirement whose genesis came from a concern for crop duster pilots who had to fly near meteorological towers that were not marked.
The new rules, below, identify that a ‘covered tower’ is one that:
- Is self-standing or supported by guy wires and ground anchors
- Is 10 feet or less in diameter at the above-ground base, excluding concrete footing
- Is at the highest point of the structure at least 50 feet above ground level
- At the highest point of the structure is not more than 200 feet above ground level
- Has accessory facilities on which an antenna, sensor, camera, meteorological instrument, or other equipment is mounted or
- Is located (a) outside the boundaries of an incorporated city or town; or (b) on land that is (i) undeveloped; or (ii) used for agricultural purposes
Excluded structures are:
- Those that are adjacent to a house, barn, electric utility station, or other building
- Within the area of a farmstead
- Structures supporting electric utility transmission or distribution lines
- Wind-powered electrical generator with a rotor blade radius that exceeds 6 feet
- A street light erected or maintained by a Federal, State, local or tribal entity
The legislation defines “undeveloped” land as an area over which the FAA “Administrator determines low-flying aircraft are operated on a routine basis, such as low-lying forested areas with predominant tree cover under 200 feet and pasture and range land.”
The FAA will have to develop a nationwide geographic map since one currently does not exist showing those areas.
The legislation also requires the FAA to “develop a database that contains the location and height of each covered tower”.
It also states that use of the database may only be used for the sole purpose of aviation safety. But it is likely that the information will be used for a number of purposes, one being an excellent resource for tower consolidators to identify towers under 200 feet that are currently not in the FCC’s database.
When the rulemaking process begins there will be a number of questions that tower owners will need to present, such as, if a broadcast tower is adjacent to its transmission building, would that structure be excluded?
And what length would the FCC consider as being adjacent?
Also, the rule identifies that the tower must be “clearly marked in a manner that is consistent with applicable guidance under the Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular.”
The present marking guidance provided by the FAA states that towers, 50-feet to 200-feet must be marked with seven equal paint bands, starting at the base with aviation orange.
The current regulation provides voluntary marking standards for meteorological towers that are less than 200 feet.
Once the final regulations are introduced, non-conforming structures will be required to be marked accordingly with one year.
Those benefiting from the new rules, in addition to pilots, will be professional tower painters and suppliers.
SEC. 2110. TOWER MARKING.
(a) In General.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall issue regulations to require the marking of covered towers.
(b) Marking Required.—The regulations under subsection (a) shall require that a covered tower be clearly marked in a manner that is consistent with applicable guidance under the Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular issued December 4, 2015 (AC 70/7460–1L), or other relevant safety guidance, as determined by the Administrator.
(1) all covered towers constructed on or after the date on which such regulations take effect are marked in accordance with subsection (b); and
(2) a covered tower constructed before the date on which such regulations take effect is marked in accordance with subsection (b) not later than 1 year after such effective date.
(1) IN GENERAL.—In this section, the following definitions apply:
(I) is self-standing or supported by guy wires and ground anchors;
(II) is 10 feet or less in diameter at the above-ground base, excluding concrete footing;
(III) at the highest point of the structure is at least 50 feet above ground level;
(IV) at the highest point of the structure is not more than 200 feet above ground level;
(V) has accessory facilities on which an antenna, sensor, camera, meteorological instrument, or other equipment is mounted; and
(aa) outside the boundaries of an incorporated city or town; or
(bb) on land that is—
(AA) undeveloped; or
(BB) used for agricultural purposes.
(I) is adjacent to a house, barn, electric utility station, or other building;
(II) is within the curtilage of a farmstead;
(III) supports electric utility transmission or distribution lines;
(IV) is a wind-powered electrical generator with a rotor blade radius that exceeds 6 feet; or
(V) is a street light erected or maintained by a Federal, State, local, or tribal entity.
(B) UNDEVELOPED.—The term “undeveloped” means a defined geographic area where the Administrator determines low-flying aircraft are operated on a routine basis, such as low-lying forested areas with predominant tree cover under 200 feet and pasture and range land.
(2) OTHER DEFINITIONS.—The Administrator shall define such other terms as may be necessary to carry out this section.
(1) develop a database that contains the location and height of each covered tower;
(2) keep the database current to the extent practicable;
(3) ensure that any proprietary information in the database is protected from disclosure in accordance with law; and
(A) may only be used for aviation safety purposes; and
(B) may not be disclosed for purposes other than aviation safety, regardless of whether or not the information is marked or labeled as proprietary or with a similar designation.