Tower lights not working at a broadcast station in Arkansas got the FCC’s attention. The Enforcement Bureau sent a Notice of Violation to Bobby Caldwell owner of East Arkansas Broadcasters, Inc.
Checking its Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) database, officials find the broadcaster has received four NOTAMs since February. The latest will expire at the end of December and the agency says it has not received any indication saying the lights have been repaired. The tower is (Registration 1038728) in Jonesboro, AR, according to the FCC’s ASR database.
“Replacing or repairing of lights, automatic indicators or automatic control or alarm systems shall be accomplished as soon as practicable,” writes Ronald Ramage, regional director of the bureau in the notice. Unless reasons provided by East Arkansas Broadcasters, Inc., prove otherwise, a duration greater than seven months is beyond the bounds of “as soon as practicable.”
The broadcaster must respond within 20 days, explaining how the violations occurred, actions taken to correct them and prevent the tower lights from going out again. The response will help the agency determine what, if any, enforcement action is required to ensure compliance.
Story via InsideTowers.com
Let’s face it, the cost of painting that tower to stay in compliance with FAA rules is expensive and time-consuming! The pain of scheduling transmitter downtime, scheduling the crew, ensuring proper disposal of hazardous waste and a plethora of other issues just make doing this task something no one wants to deal with.
DON’T DO IT!
Just upgrade your obstruction lights to the latest in LED technology.
As widespread power outages continue in Puerto Rico, about 92.5 percent of cell tower sites in the U.S. territory aren’t working, down slightly from 95.6 percent on Saturday, according to data submitted by communications providers to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). Indeed, it appears there has been “minimal improvement to the communications networks in Puerto Rico since the Hurricane departed,” according to the agency. DIRS is now activated for all counties in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
Of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico, 37 (down from 48 on Saturday) have 100 percent of.their cell sites out of service, according to Sunday morning’s data. More than 75 percent of the cell tower sites are not operational in all counties.
In the USVI, 61.3 percent of cell sites are not operational, down from 66 percent on Saturday.
The two emergency call centers in Puerto Rico appear to be working normally, according to the primary service provider. In the USVI, the St. Croix 911 Call Center has been reported as completely down. FEMA has reported significant damage to the building. The St. Thomas 911 Call Center is unable to retrieve certain location information for wireless and VoIP callers.
AT&T sent planes with restoration equipment, (including generators) personnel and humanitarian supplies to Puerto Rico and the USVI over the weekend; additional flights are slated for the next few days, a carrier spokesman told Inside Towers.
“We are coordinating with local and federal authorities to support recovery efforts,” said spokesman Jeffrey Kobs. “We are working to keep our customers connected and to restore services to areas where storm damage, power outages, and flooding have interrupted service.”
In the USVI, AT&T set-up a portable cell-site near the airport in St. Thomas, and has restored some power there and on other islands. The carrier plans to bring in additional resources.
AT&T is automatically issuing credits and waiving additional fees to give unlimited data, talk, and texts to AT&T wireless customers and unlimited talk and texts to AT&T PREPAID customers in Puerto Rico and the USVI through September 29. The company is also extending payment dates for impacted AT&T PREPAID customers with voice and text service through September 29.
Sprint extended its waived text, call and data overage fees for Sprint, BoostMobile and Virgin Mobile customers in Puerto Rico and the USVI through September 29. Fees will be proactively waived during the specified timeframe. “As authorities and our teams on the ground assess the situation,” stated Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.
Story taken from Inside Towers.
One observant citizen in northeast Ohio spotted a light not working atop a 150-foot high cell tower and notified the landlord—Stow-Munroe Falls City School. AT&T had already been notified about the light failure, and the episode prompted a local newspaper, the Stow Sentry, to explore cell tower light outages and how they’re repaired.
“The cell tower behind the high school has a broken aviation/navigation light at the top. When that happens an alarm goes off and AT&T is notified,” Mark Fritz, the director of operations for the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District, told the Stow Sentry. “The FAA was then notified and they have rerouted air traffic for the next two weeks until AT&T can get a technician out to repair it.”
As tower companies well know, the FAA is involved in the tower development stage very early, as the agency gets a say on whether or not the cell tower will interfere with aviation safety, even before the FCC issues permits. The FCC has and will issue fines from the $10,000-to-$25,000 range if a tower light is out and repairs are not made immediately. Even when tower lights are functioning properly, pilots are aware of cell tower locations and avoid the structures in their flight plans.
“As a rule of thumb, we avoid the towers anyways,” David Poluga, the Kent State University Airport manager, told the Stow Sentry.
An anonymous complaint led agents from the Philadelphia field office of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to WGBN’s door in 2014. Several tower violations have now tripped up Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation, owner of the AM in Lincoln Borough, Pennsylvania. The FCC cited Pentecostal for failing to light and paint its tower and for not informing the FAA of the lighting outages.
“Such structures present a significant public safety risk, especially to passing aircraft,” stated the Commission in its decision. “Pentecostal has previously been warned that it must repair the required lights and repaint the antenna structures to bring them into compliance with the Commission’s rules.”
Pentecostal owns four towers at the Lincoln Borough site; when agents returned to the site in 2016, they found faded and chipped paint on two structures. Also, the top level beacon on the tower registered under ASR 1026648 was out, and one of the two side steady burning obstruction lighting globes was out on the tower registered under ASR 1026650. Under agency rules, “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” must be reported to the FAA.
After the owner neglected to bring the tower into compliance after repeated warnings, the agency determined WGBN’s owner is apparently liable for a $25,000 fine. Pentecostal has 30 days to appeal or pay.
Call it a love of nature. Call it new FCC guidelines, either way large tower owners are adapting their lighting infrastructure and, according to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), it is having a positive impact on our feathered friends. New guidelines for communication tower lights spell out how tower operators can save birds and energy without sacrificing safety, according to the ABC, which bills itself as “the Western Hemisphere’s bird conservation specialist.” The FCC and FAA say the guidelines strongly encourage tower operators to turn off or reprogram steady-burning red or white lights in favor of flashing lights, which are less harmful to birds yet still alert pilots to the towers’ presence.
The FAA and FCC have officially recognized that: birds are attracted to non-flashing red lights, such as L-810 side-marker lights; and birds are much less attracted to flashing lights on towers, such as L-864 and L-865 lights.
The FCC guidelines state: “As of December 4, 2015, FAA no longer permits red non-flashing lights on new towers over 350 feet. It also asked owners of existing towers to submit plans for changing their tower lights. The FCC and FAA have developed a process by which registrants may extinguish non-flashing lights on existing towers over 350 feet AGL. After September 15, 2016, towers between 150 and 350 feet AGL will also be expected to have only flashing lights.”
Steady burning lights on communications towers disorient migratory birds at night, Christine Sheppard, ABC’s Bird Collisions Campaign Manager said. As of late October, operators of more than 750 tall towers nationwide already updated their lighting systems under the new guidelines. Making the switch, the Conservancy said, saves energy, reduces operating costs, and reduces bird collisions substantially.
As many as seven million birds a year die in collisions with towers and the guy wires that support them according to The Conservancy studies. “By extinguishing the non-flashing lights on towers, we can reduce night-time bird fatality rates by as much as 70 percent,” Sheppard said.
“We wish to thank the operators of the 700-plus towers that have already switched their lighting to help reduce mortality of birds,” Sheppard said. “But there are still some 15,000 tall towers across the U.S. with outdated lights that are dangerous for birds. We are asking all tower operators to make this cost-saving and life-saving switch to help migratory birds.”
The FCC and FAA are expected to release specifications for flashing lights on towers 150 to 350 ft. AGL soon.
The FAA is calling on owners to eliminate the use of non-flashing lights on all towers. “New tower lighting schemes should now follow the revised guidance, and operators of towers with the old lighting system should submit plans explaining how and when they will transition to the new standards,” the agency said in a news release.
Read FAA Federal Lighting Regulations here.
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.
They dot the nighttime sky like a modern day light show, except these aren’t shining atop some of your tallest structures to wow us, but rather to keep us all safe. Many of them, however, are made in Central New York.
Follow the link in the source below for the video and full story via News Channel 9 Local SYR
White and red steady-burning lights, flashing lights and strobe lights, along with various combinations of the three types of lights, tower lighting configurations conceived by the FAA for towers and tall structures to warn pilots they are approaching an obstruction, particularly during nighttime hours and in bad weather, may save thousands of birds each year, the FAA believes. The regulations were crafted in conjunction with the FCC.
Wildlife biology research determined in the past decade that migratory birds appear to be particularly attracted to or are not threatened by non-flashing red tower lights, eturbonews.com reported. The research concluded the birds are drawn toward that type of light and become confused and exhausted or collide with the towers and their supporting guy wires, killing thousands of birds every year. Several years ago, wildlife organizations, the telecom industry, and FCC collectively asked the FAA to consider changing its lighting standards to reduce migratory bird fatalities by developing configurations that feature flashing lights instead of steady-burning lights, or completely omit the steady-burning lights in some cases, noted the news site.
In the wake of the changes, the FAA conducted flight tests in northern Michigan to compare the traditional steady-burning lighting with a variety of different types of flashing lights. The agencies found the new configurations featuring flashing lights provided acceptable warnings for pilots and were likely to result in a significant decrease in bird fatalities. Base on that, the agency last December updated its Advisory Circular (AC) for obstruction marking and lighting. New tower lighting schemes should now follow the revised guidance, and operators of towers with the old lighting system should submit plans explaining how and when they will transition to the new standards.