Michigan legislators have approved an AOPA-backed bill that will enhance safety for aviators who fly at low altitudes by requiring clear marking of meteorological evaluation towers (METs).
AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds testified in support of House Bill 4727 in September and January, urging lawmakers to address a significant safety threat posed by towers up to 199 feet tall that are not subject to FAA obstruction hazard requirements, and pose a significant threat to agricultural aircraft, emergency medical services helicopters, and others who operate at low altitude. Such towers often are erected with no colors or marking, which makes them impossible to see at a distance.
AOPA has worked with state lawmakers across the country to address this threat, and many states have enacted marking and registration requirements, including establishment of procedures to make pilots aware of the tower heights and locations.
The Michigan bill now awaiting the signature of Gov. Rick Snyder would require that METs be marked in a highly visible manner and registered in a database that is available to pilots to review, allowing pilots to become aware of tower locations and heights before flight and thereby reducing the risk of fatal collisions, which have happened in recent years. AOPA has joined agricultural aviation groups and others who have a keen interest in safety, particularly as the wind energy industry grows and METs proliferate. The Michigan Department of Transportation joined AOPA in supporting House Bill 4727, which was unanimously approved by the Senate.
“This is a huge step forward in protecting AOPA members that operate at low altitudes in Michigan,” Budds said. “We truly appreciate the leadership of Representative Triston Cole and the entire Michigan legislature in quickly addressing a clear danger to our members.”
Budds wrote a letter to Snyder in support of the legislation now awaiting the governor’s signature, noting the important safety issue the bill addresses on behalf of the state’s $4.1 billion general aviation industry.