Nebraska seeks wind-test tower safety upgrade

February 27, 2014

AOPA is working to support a bill under consideration in Nebraska’s legislature to strengthen requirements for the anti-collision marking of temporary meteorological evaluation towers.

The bill, LB845, won approval Feb. 25 from the legislature’s Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee and awaits action by the full legislature. The measure would amend existing state law to include an FAA advisory circular’s recommendations on proper marking of the towers. It also would add an enforcement provision in cases where tower operators fail to comply.

The towers subject to the provisions are the temporary structures used to measure wind speed and direction, and to study potential locations for power-generating wind turbines. The portable towers are typically constructed of galvanized tubing and secured with guy wires, said Yasmina Platt, AOPA Central/Southwest regional manager.

Meteorological observation towers are usually not subject to FAA regulations for obstruction marking because the structures are typically less than 200 feet high. The Nebraska bill would cover towers at least 50 feet high, up to 200 feet above the ground.

Last May, AOPA reported on the National Transportation Safety Board’s issuance of a recommendation for the registration, marking, and lighting of the towers. Addressing itself to the FAA, the NTSB noted the growth of the wind-energy industry and the involvement of the towers—which are often set up without notice, markings, or lighting—in several accidents. The NTSB urged the FAA to amend its tower-marking regulations.

In Nebraska, advance registration of the towers with the state’s Department of Aeronautics is required, said Platt.

The proposal before Nebraska’s unicameral lawmaking body is the latest in a series of state-level actions supported by AOPA to address the safety implications of the proliferation of meteorological observation towers.

"This is an opportunity to be proactive and prevent tower-induced accidents from happening in the future," Platt said.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.