Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has approved a set of AOPA-backed emergency rules to promote safety of flight by requiring the marking of towers set up by wind-energy companies to help evaluate sites for power generation.
Fallin’s approval, awaited after the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission approved its draft regulations on Nov. 13, is expected to reduce the collision hazard between agricultural and other low-level flights and the so-called meteorological evaluation towers (METs) that are appearing in numbers, and with little notice, in many areas.
AOPA supported the state’s action to regulate METs—as it has done in other states—because structures less than 200 feet high do not fall under FAA hazard-marking requirements. As the wind-energy industry has expanded, several accidents involving METs, including one crash in Oklahoma, also have elicited concerns about flight safety from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Oklahoma’s new rules will require the marking, painting, and flagging of towers that are at least 50 feet high. Under another provision, the state will maintain a database of tower locations.
The rule’s enactment concludes a yearlong effort marked by the veto, in April, of previous legislation that contained enforcement language opposed by Fallin. Resolution of those concerns paved the way for Fallin to sign a bill on May 29 that empowered the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission to prepare the regulations completed in November.
AOPA participated fully in the legislative process and also sent a letter to Fallin urging her support for the safety measures, said Yasmina Platt, AOPA Central/Southwest regional manager.
"Oklahoma’s action to pass this measure in 2014 represents an important contribution to safety of flight," Platt said.