FCC Announces New FAA Antenna Structure Marking and Lighting Requirements

The FCC has announced new marking and lighting standards for antenna structures that must be reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and registered in the FCC’s Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) system.

Under the FCC's rules, any proposed or existing antenna structure that requires a notice of proposed construction or alteration to be filed with the FAA must generally be registered with the FCC. Antenna structure owners must conform to the FAA's marking and lighting recommendations set forth in the FAA's “determination of no hazard” and associated study for each new or altered structure, unless otherwise specified by the FCC. No changes may be made to the lighting or marking specifications on the ASR without prior FAA and FCC approval.

On December 4, 2015, the FAA revised its tower marking and lighting guidelines with the release of a new Advisory Circular for Obstruction Marking and Lighting 70/7460-1L, which replaces Advisory Circular 70/7460-1K. The new Advisory Circular is available on the FAA website at http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC_70_7460-1L_.pdf.

On a going forward basis, all new or modified antenna structures that require notice to the FAA and registration with the FCC will follow the new obstruction marking and lighting standards set forth in Advisory Circular 70/7460-1L. This does not affect the current marking and lighting on any existing antenna structures. Antenna structure owners should continue to follow the marking and lighting requirements as set forth in the relevant FAA determination and Advisory Circular listed on the current ASR for each existing antenna structure.

The FAA’s new Advisory Circular 70/7460-1L contains several changes to the marking and lighting requirements for antenna structures, including:

  • Lighting Styles A, E, and F for antenna structures no longer employ L-810 steady-burning side lights for communications towers that are taller than 350 feet above ground level (AGL). As a result of this change, effective immediately all new communications towers taller than 350 feet AGL that use lighting may use only flashing obstruction lights.
  • For towers between 151 and 350 feet AGL, Advisory Circular 70/7460-1L requires flashing L-810 side lights, rather than steady L-810 side lights, for Lighting Styles A and E. This requirement will not take effect until September 15, 2016, at which point all new communications towers taller than 150 feet AGL that use lighting may use only flashing obstruction lights.

The FCC encourages, but will not require, owners of existing ASR structures to eliminate the use of L-810 steady-burning side lights as soon as possible. However, prior to doing so, a tower owner must request a new FAA determination of no hazard under Advisory Circular 70/7460-1L, and then must file FCC Form 854 to amend the ASR to reflect the new lighting.