February 10, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
The safety of legal, low-level general aviation activities in Colorado would significantly increase at no cost to aircraft owners and operators under a bill being considered in the state House of Representatives.
House Bill 14-1216 would require the marking and lighting of meteorological evaluation towers (METs) and other guyed structures taller than 50 feet agl located in rural areas of the state. The measure has the support of AOPA and other aviation stakeholders in Colorado, including the Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association (CAAA) and the newly formed Colorado General Aviation Alliance.
The FAA currently doesn’t require the marking and lighting of towers and other obstructions less than 200 feet agl. Many METs less than 200 feet tall are located in rural areas throughout Colorado and are erected to evaluate wind conditions at a particular site for potential wind power generating facilities.
But these small, unmarked towers present a significant hazard to important and lawful low-level GA aircraft operations, including aerial application, emergency response, wildfire suppression, and medical helicopter operations. They are often erected suddenly, with no notice, and if not marked, are very difficult to see from an aircraft, as shown in this video about METs created by the Nebraska Aviation Trades Association and the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL).
The bill, sponsored by AOPA member Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg and Sen. Greg Brophy, is scheduled for public hearing in the House Transportation and Energy Committee on Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m. AOPA will be weighing in with support on this important piece of legislation, as it did in Washington state this year.
AOPA Northwest Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane has worked with CAAA Executive Director Jessica Freeman and other aviation stakeholders to help develop the bill. In November, Ulane attended the CAAA annual conference in Loveland, and participated in a legislative forum that discussed this bill.
The bill is continuing to work its way through the Colorado legislature, which adjourns May 7. Colorado members are being encouraged to reach out to their state legislators and encourage them to support House Bill 14-1216.
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a revised bill that will regulate the appearance of meteorological evaluation towers less than 200 feet tall.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed on May 17 legislation that will require marking of towers less than 200 feet tall.
Colorado is poised to join a growing list of states taking action to protect pilots from a hard-to-see hazard: unmarked meteorological towers.
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