AOPA has taken the first steps to prevent a radio tower from being rebuilt in a California airport traffic pattern.
Pilots flying into Fullerton Municipal (FUL), in Fullerton, California, have been dodging a hazardous 760-foot-tall radio antenna tower since 1947. It was built near the airport before the development of the FAA's current obstruction regulations.
"Located one and a half miles from the runway, the tower was an obvious hazard to pilots flying into Fullerton," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "This tower has contributed to two aircraft accidents and three fatalities. AOPA will work to ensure that the tower will not be a hazard in the future."
Two people were killed when a Cessna 182 collided with the tower December 19, 2004.The tower was destroyed, but the radio station may try to rebuild the antenna in the same location. AOPA contends that the antenna tower clearly would be a hazard to air navigation and has requested that the FAA seek public comment if reconstruction of the tower is proposed.
An accident in 1970 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.
"Because three fatalities have occurred as a result of the site location, height of the tower, and possibly the lack of daytime hazard lights, the FAA should utilize every opportunity to seek input from the aviation community on aeronautical impacts associated with any reconstruction of the tower," Rudinger said.
If the owners decide to rebuild the tower and the FAA circulates the aeronautical study, AOPA will formally oppose the reconstruction.
January 7, 2005