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"FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016" to affect towers and masts over 50 feet in height.

Discussion in 'Amplitude Modulation' started by K4KYV, Jul 18, 2016.

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  1. K4KYV

    K4KYV Premium Subscriber Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Congress sneaked this one in over us. Although it has the potential of severely affecting amateur radio towers and antennas, I have seen no mention of this whatsoever from ARRL; it appeared just a couple of days ago in discussions on the Tower Talk e-mail reflector. I believe the amateur radio community was caught unawares.

    New rules would require alternating orange and white paint and obstruction lighting on towers and poles over 50' tall. Apparently, meteorological testing towers and cellphone masts have been popping up unexpectedly in rural areas serviced by crop dusters, and this has become a concern not only to crop dusters, but other low-flying air traffic like medical evacuation and news-reporting helicopters. Towers, poles and masts between 50' and 200', below the current minimum height (except near an airport) of 200 feet, out in open fields, have resulted in collisions with the masts and their guy wires.

    Under new FAA funding legislation, originally submitted as H.R.636, "In addition to medical reforms, the legislation requires the FAA to develop regulations for marking towers between 50 and 200 feet tall to improve their visibility to low-flying aircraft and help prevent accidents."

    Scroll down to section 2110:

    This the organisation that successfully lobbied for the legislation: Papers/Tower Issue Paper FINAL.pdf

    A sample of their recent propaganda: Public Outreach/ad2.pdf Public Outreach/ad6.pdf

    The location definitions and the exclusions in the language of the Act MAY let most amateurs out of the requirement, if the tower is located fairly close to the house or associated structures (the farmstead curtilage): (ii) EXCLUSIONS.-The term "covered tower" does not include any structure that- (I) is adjacent to a house, barn, electric utility station, or other building...

    Towers with a shelter (dog-house in broadcast engineering parlance) near the base to house the antenna tuning unit might be excluded. It all depends on how FAA and FCC bureaucrats define "adjacent", "building", "curtilage", etc. Remember, government agencies tend to write in their own versions of the English language, in which the definitions and meanings of words do not necessarily correspond to what we see in the dictionary.

    The motivating concern with this legislation is isolated towers out in the middle of a field on prime farm land that may be serviced by crop sprayers, which explains why the 'curtilage' of a house or farm outbuilding supposedly exempts the tower. The danger we face is the propensity of government agencies to enact 'one-size-fits-all' wording in laws and regulations, so that in fact they are still applicable in situations totally removed and unrelated to the purpose behind the legislation, typical of the government to use a back hoe where a garden spade would have done the job.

    It would be VERY expensive for most hams to paint their towers to FAA standards and mark them with obstruction lighting, or install obstruction markers on wire antennas. This has the potential of affecting those of us living in rural areas almost as severely as HOAs and zoning ordinances are affecting hams in urban residential neighbourhoods. It could particularly be a problem for 160m and 75m operators, since many if not most of our effective antennas for these bands exceed 50 feet in height.

    Don k4kyv
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2016
    WA3VJB, W2VW and KA0HCP like this.
  2. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

  3. K4KYV

    K4KYV Premium Subscriber Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2016
  4. N6YW

    N6YW Ham Member Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    And now comes the comes the big question... who the hell is going to enforce this law? Is there going to be an enforcement leg at work
    inspecting and measuring antenna structures? And what about a grandfather clause? Will my friends who own 50' ft.+ towers have
    to paint them now? Curious as to what ends the authorities will go to enforce this law. It's a mystery to me.
    1 person likes this.
  5. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Can't wait for my HOA to choose the correct colors and patterns for the paint.
    WQ4G, K7MH, KD4MOJ and 3 others like this.
  6. W2VW

    W2VW XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My tower needs a coat of cold galvanizing compound anyway.
  7. K4KYV

    K4KYV Premium Subscriber Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    According to the text of the bill, existing towers would be grandfathered only for one year after the regulations went into effect. Another question is, paying for the marking. I once checked a few years ago out of curiosity, and a professional paint job on my 127' tower would run about $5k. Then there is the obstruction lighting. Those things have to be type-accepted by the FAA, and naturally they are way overpriced, like medical equipment. A set of lighting hardware for my tower would probably cost on the order of an additional $10k.

    So what is someone supposed to do if they have an existing tower that has been up for years, but can't afford to have it lighted and marked, nor afford to hire a crew to come take it down?

    It would be cheaper to move a crappy old portable building onto the site next to the tower, which should satisfy the requirement by just being there, even if it had no floor and the roof leaked.
    N0TZU and N6YW like this.
  8. K5UJ

    K5UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The way I understand it, existing towers will have a year to come into compliance Billy, no grandfathering. Enforcement: My guess is that enforcement will be like FCC enforcement--they'll respond to complaints but not roam the country looking for illegal towers. There will be tens of thousands of towers--they can't check all of them so they'll rely on people, probably pilots mostly, to turn in violators. Then I expect you'll get a warning, and a period of time to allow for action on your part, and after that the fines will begin, and so on.
    N6YW likes this.
  9. WJ4U

    WJ4U Ham Member QRZ Page

    No problem since everyone is moving into an HOA these days.
  10. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I bet the FAA will enforce this, not the FCC.

    Anyways regarding costs, I would pay $5000 to not have an "incident", especially if someone got hurt.

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