Chapter 3: The FCC Takes Antenna Structure Lighting Seriously - Shouldn't You?

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. 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.

Sec. 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:

  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, 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.
  2. 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.
T/Mon's text messages can provide specific instructions for handling tower light emergencies.
If your tower lights went out, would you know who to call? Would you know the correct latitude, longitude and height of your tower? You need to provide this information to the FAA immediately. T/Mon NOC puts all the facts at your fingertips.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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, you'll find the rules on construction, marking, and lighting of antenna structures very informative. You can also register new towers by visiting the FCC's Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) portion of their website.