FAA Light Maintenance

Imagine if a cellular tower light failed and went undetected for several hours-or even days. That tower is now a highly dangerous flight hazard to aircraft. Without warning, a simple light failure could cause a tragedy. This is what happened in 1989 in North Carolina when a Medical Helicopter crashed into an unlit tower. Several people were killed and the FCC took action. Now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has several rules for antenna structures to ensure aircraft safety. Here are a few examples of FCC rules that tower owners should know.

ComSite Construction has extensive experience in specifying, installing, inspecting, and maintaining FAA-required lighting for towers and other obstruction lighting applications.

D-2-3LVSController_thumnailSec. 17.47 Inspection of antenna structure lights and associated control equipment.

The owner of any antenna structure which is registered with the Commission and has been assigned lighting specifications referenced in this part:

(a)(1) Shall make an observation of the antenna structure’s lights at least once each 24 hours either visually or by observing an automatic properly maintained indicator designed to register any failure of such lights, to insure that all such lights are functioning properly as required; or alternatively,

(2) Shall provide and properly maintain an automatic alarm system designed to detect any failure of such lights and to provide indication of such failure to the owner.

(b) Shall inspect at intervals not to exceed 3 months all automatic or mechanical control devices, indicators, and alarm systems associated with the antenna structure lighting to insure that such apparatus is functioning properly.

Sec. 17.48 Notification of extinguishment or improper functioning of lights.

The owner of any antenna structure which is registered with the Commission and has been assigned lighting specifications referenced in this part:

(a) Shall report immediately by telephone or telegraph to the nearest Flight Service Station or office of the Federal Aviation Administration any observed or otherwise known extinguishment or improper functioning of any top steady burning light or any flashing obstruction light, regardless of its position on the antenna structure, not corrected within 30 minutes. Such reports shall set forth the condition of the light or lights, the circumstances which caused the failure, the probable date for restoration of service, the FCC Antenna Structure Registration Number, the height of the structure (AGL and AMSL if known) and the name, title, address, and telephone number of the person making the report. Further notification by telephone or telegraph shall be given immediately upon resumption of normal operation of the light or lights.

(b) An extinguishment or improper functioning of a steady burning side intermediate light or lights, shall be corrected as soon as possible, but notification to the FAA of such extinguishment or improper functioning is not required.

If you’re a tower owner, please download the rules and regulations from the FAA website by clicking here. You can also register new towers by visiting the FCC’s Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) portion of their website.

FAA’s five categories are below. We inspect, maintain, and repair all lighting in all five categories.

“A” Series Obstruction Lights:

Red (L-864) obstruction lights are used to increase conspicuity during nighttime. Daytime and twilight marking is required. Recommendations on lighting structures can vary depending on terrain features, weather patterns, geographic location, and in the case of wind turbines, number of structures and overall layout of design. Typical obstruction heights vary between 20 to 2200 feet.

“D” Series Obstruction Lights:

Medium intensity flashing white (L-865) obstruction lights may provide conspicuity both day and night. Recommendations on lighting structures can vary depending on terrain features, weather patterns, geographic location, and in the case of wind turbines, number of structures and overall layout of design. Typical obstruction heights vary between 200 to 500 feet.

“E” Series Obstruction Lights:

Medium intensity flashing white (L-865) obstruction lights may provide conspicuity both day and night. Recommendations on lighting structures can vary depending on terrain features, weather patterns, geographic location, and in the case of wind turbines, number of structures and overall layout of design.

“B” Series Obstruction Lights:

Lighting with high intensity (L-856) flashing white obstruction lights provides the highest degree of conspicuity both day and night. Recommendations on lighting structures can vary depending on terrain features, weather patterns, geographic location, and in the case of wind turbines, number of structures and overall layout of design.

“C” Series Obstruction Lights:

When a structure lighted by a high intensity flashing light system is topped with an antenna or similar appurtenance exceeding 40 feet (12m) in height, a medium intensity flashing white light (L-865) should be placed within 40 feet (12m) from the tip of the appurtenance. This light should operate 24 hours a day and flash simultaneously with the rest of the lighting system.

“F” Series Obstruction Lights:

This dual lighting system includes red lights (L-864) for nighttime and high intensity flashing white lights (L-856) for daytime and twilight use. This lighting system may be used in lieu of operating a flashing white lighting system at night. There may be some populated areas where the use of high intensity lights at night may cause significant environmental concerns and complaints.

These electronic jamming products are available only to United States government agencies and export customers. Exports are required to have US State Department Approval (export license). No exceptions.

It’s always a good idea to review your installation against the current lighting standards. If you’re considering an upgrade, we can help. When looking at the applicable standards, you’ll want to start with the FAA circular that provides the FAA Obstruction Lighting Rules.

Applicable standards for design and installation include NFPA 70 (the National Electrical Code) and standards produced by the IES (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America).

If you have non-functioning lights, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail or call 888-684-6248  immediately!