FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Overhauls Marking Requirements for Short Rural Towers

Thanks to ARRL efforts on Capitol Hill, language in the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, just signed by President Donald Trump, resolves the issue of problematic or preclusive rules affecting some rural Amateur Radio towers. The previous FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 had instructed the FAA to enact tower-marking requirements, similar to those in some state statutes, aimed at improving aircraft safety in the vicinity of meteorological evaluation towers (METs). These towers are typically between 50 and 200 feet and set up in rural areas, often on short notice.

In the wake of fatal crop-dusting aircraft collisions with METs, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had recommended that states institute laws, sometimes called “crop duster” statutes, requiring marking and registration of METs. While some state crop-duster laws exempted ham radio towers, federal regulations dating to the 1996 FAA Reauthorization Act did not, and ARRL had expressed its concerns since.

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