New Tower Owner Faces Thousands of Dollars in Fines
In a cautionary tale for other tower owners, the FCC has cited the current owner of the Bendix Tower in Los Angeles for not registering the structure with the Commission and for improper painting and lighting. In a notice, the agency warns the owner to immediately fix the situation or else face a “significant” fine.
Casler Construction built the Bendix Building and erected the original tower in 1928, for the Bendix Aviation Corporation on Maple Avenue.
In 2013, an agent from the FCC’s Los Angeles office of its Enforcement Bureau saw a radio antenna mounted atop the tower, which is on the building roof. The total tower height exceeds 270 feet above the ground, so it should be registered with both the FCC and the FAA.
The FCC asked the FAA to issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for the structure, which was also not painted or lighted. NOTAMs alert pilots to potential hazards.
Though the tower was not being used for radio transmissions then, it had been at one time, for microwave transmissions. The FCC said in its notice that license has since been cancelled.
But a tower owner must maintain the proper lighting and marking until the structure is dismantled; that’s why the Commission is going after the owner.
In December 2013, the Enforcement Bureau issued a citation to prior owner Big Munga Development, ordering the firm to confirm it had taken steps to register the structure and rectify the other violations. Big Munga responded it was applying for FAA registration; the Commission received the FAA’s finding that the tower was not a hazard in January 2014; however the FAA agreed with the FCC the 237-foot structure needed required marking and lighting.
Big Munga installed a steady-burning red obstruction light; however the FCC told the company it needed to install a flashing red beacon to comply with FAA rules.
During inspections in 2015, and earlier this year, the Enforcement Bureau noted the tower had a flashing red beacon which did not come on until 13 minutes after sunset, and the structure was still not registered with the Commission.
This June, the FCC learned Big Munga sold the structure in 2015, but not from either Big Munga, nor the new owner.
Now, the FCC has cited what it’s calling “Tower Owner,” giving the entity 30 days to confirm the new owner has modified the lighting to a flashing red beacon and to confirm the hours the structure is lighted.
The new owner also must give the FCC the paperwork related to the tower sale, including the deed. If there is no paperwork, the new owner must provide the agency with a written statement describing the circumstances of how it acquired Bendix Tower.
The new entity also must tell the Commission whether Big Munga informed the new owner about the 2013 citation, and steps the former owner and new owner have taken to correct the violations and prevent more from occurring.
The new owner has 30 days to respond and if more violations occur, the FCC can levy a fine of up to $18,936 a day for each infraction and up to just over $142,000 for any single act or failure to act. Big Munga isn’t off the hook, either. The Commission reserves the right to assess penalties for conduct that led to the citation and for what followed.
Read FAA Federal Lighting Regulations here.