The FAA is requesting comments on the rebuilding of a 760-foot-tall radio tower in the traffic pattern at Fullerton Municipal Airport (FUL) in Fullerton, California. Two people were killed and the tower was destroyed when a Cessna 182 collided with the tower December 19, 2004. The collision was the second time the tower had been struck by an aircraft.
Shortly after the accident, AOPA sent a letter to the FAA's regional director to expressly state the association's concerns about the tower's hazardous location and the fear that it would be rebuilt.
"Building a 760-foot-tall antenna tower in the traffic pattern of an airport is an obvious hazard," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "This tower has been involved in two accidents with three fatalities. The NTSB hasn't even completed its accident investigation, and it is premature for the tower owner to even consider rebuilding the structure before the facts surrounding the latest fatalities are known."
AOPA would like to see the tower proponent focus its efforts on finding a new location that does not put innocent pilots and passengers at risk.
The radio antenna tower was built near the airport in 1947 before the development of the FAA's current obstruction regulations. Another accident occurred in 1970 and resulted in one fatality. Both that accident and the December accident occurred in day VFR conditions. Lack of lighting during daytime visual conditions made the tower more difficult to spot, increasing the hazard to pilots flying in the traffic pattern. The tower sponsor is proposing to add a 24-hour medium-intensity white obstruction lighting system to the replacement tower.
AOPA encourages members to comment before September 1 on the proposed rebuilding of the tower. Comments must address the effect this action would have on aviation in the area and provide detailed support of the negative impacts.
Comments must contain "Aeronautical Study No. 2005-AWP-734-OE" and can be sent to:
Federal Aviation Administration
Western Pacific Regional Office
P.O. Box 92007-AWP-520
Los Angeles, CA 90009-2007
August 4, 2005