Tower Lighting Requirements Updated

Posted on December 31st, 2015 by

In early December 2015, the FAA announced that it was canceling and replacing its Advisory Circular for Obstruction Marking and Lighting, amending the lighting requirements that apply to towers registered in the FCC’s antenna structure registration system. The good news? The updated requirements only apply to new or altered antenna structures. However, any antenna structure alteration requiring the filing of a new Form 854 in the FCC’s system will require compliance with the new lighting requirements.

Just what are the new requirements? There are several changes, but perhaps most significant is that lighting styles A, E and F for towers taller than 350 feet no longer allow L-810 steady burning side lights. Only flashing obstruction lights may be used. In addition, starting September 15, 2016, towers between 151-350 feet will require flashing (not steady) side lights for lighting styles A and E.

Tower owners can voluntarily change to the new lighting requirements for existing towers, but volunteering doesn’t get owners a break on paperwork. Owners will have to first request a new No Hazard Determination from the FAA, and then file Form 854 with the FCC to amend the tower registration to reflect the new lighting. The FCC’s Wireless Bureau encourages tower owners to eliminate steady burning side lights as soon as possible.

Why the changes? Well, according to the FCC’s notice, eliminating non-flashing lights on towers may reduce migratory bird collisions by as much as 70 percent. In encouraging voluntary compliance for existing towers, the FCC also mentions a reduction in maintenance and energy costs for tower owners.