FAA Adopts New Tower Lighting Guidelines

June 26, 2012

Washington - Jun 26, 2012 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has adopted new guidelines for nighttime lighting of communications towers. The new guidelines were adopted in response to concerns of wildlife experts about the potential effect that tower lighting has on the health of migratory birds. According to some studies, migratory birds tend to be drawn to steady-burning obstruction lighting arrangements on towers, and the FAA conducted tests to determine whether a change in the lighting guidelines would be beneficial.

The tests were run in Northern Michigan on the tower for WPBN-TV (Traverse City, MI), and the tower was specially outfitted with lighting arrangements that biologists believed would avoid avian deaths. The results of the studies indicated that the flashing of steady-burning red lights simultaneously with the top beacon rates of approximately 30 flashes per minute yielded the best results for both visibility and the avoidance of avian deaths. Depending on the height of the tower, the FAA will require the upgrade of the medium-intensity lights for communications towers between 500 and 2,000 feet. The study also indicated that using light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures were preferred to incandescent lamps due to the rapid on-off functionality, and the belief that birds will not be drawn to the LED lamps because they do not warm and cool like incandescent lights.

For taller towers that also incorporate high-intensity beacons at locations on the tower in addition to the top of the tower, the FAA will permit the tower owners to cease the steady-burning red lights upon request. The FAA anticipates that its new form, which will permit applicants to seek a waiver of the steady-burning light requirement, will be ready in the next few weeks.

The study can be found here:
www.airporttech.tc.faa.gov/safety/downloads/TC-TN12-9.pdf, and the application will be loaded here:

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