When A Tower Light Goes Out
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.