FAA Changing Tower Marking Requirements

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The FAA is planning to omit the requirement for steady red marker lights on some types of towers and antennae to reduce the toll on migratory birds. Radio World reports that a federal study (PDF) has shown that eliminating the red lights or making them flash, while maintaining the bright white flashing lights on towers, will reduce the number of "avian fatalities" without increasing aviation fatalities. "The results showed that flashing the steady-burning lights was acceptable for small towers (151 to 350 feet in height) and that they could be omitted on taller towers (over 351 feet) so long as the remaining brighter, flashing lights were operational," the study says.

The FAA will put together a formal rule change but in the meantime tower owners can apply to turn out their red lights in the form of a waiver application, so the lights could start disappearing fairly soon. Radio station owners and telecom companies are welcoming the news because it will reduce power costs and the birds will benefit, according to wildlife biologists. They are apparently attracted to the steady-burning red lights and thousands smack into towers each year because of that.