The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (FAA Reauthorization), enacted in July 2016, contains a section (Sec. 2110) requiring certain towers between 50 and 200 feet to be marked in accordance with FAA regulations. This includes towers operated by wireless telecommunications providers.
While the original intent was to cover meteorological evaluation towers (METs). These METs can be constructed as quickly as overnight and are not always in fixed locations, presenting a potential hazard for crop dusters and other light aviation. However, as enacted Sec. 2110 also covers telecommunications towers, meaning wireless carriers will have one year from an FAA rulemaking to comply with new tower marking and lighting requirements. The FAA was required to issue a rulemaking by July 20, 2017, but awaits further direction from Congress before acting.
CCA is working with Congress to address this issue to promote safety while limiting unnecessary burdens. The House 2017 FAA Reauthorization bill, H.R. 2997, the 21st Century AIRR Act, passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in June 2017. This bill includes a provision supported by CCA clarifying that telecommunications towers 50-200ft in height must either be marked and lit according to 2016 law or entered into an anonymized FAA database the 2016 law creates. The 21st Century AIRR Act awaits consideration by the full House.
Competitive carriers forced to comply with this regulation could face substantial burdens. Valuable time and resources will have to be spend complying with new regulatory requirements rather than building networks and connecting communities. The AIRR Act is an important first step in addressing this important issue.
Take action and encourage Members to appropriately structure regulatory guidance which promotes aviation safety without burdensome regulatory overreach for wireless carriers. Tell Congress to take up and pass the 21st Century AIRR Act as soon as possible.