FAA changes its tower lighting standards to increase bird safety

28 March 2016 (Last Updated March 28th, 2016 18:30)

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has changed its communication tower lighting standards to reduce the number of bird fatalities from collision with tall structures.

birds

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has changed its communication tower lighting standards to reduce the number of bird fatalities from collision with tall structures.

The federal agency has built several tower lighting configurations for tall structures to warn pilots about obstructions, especially during night hours and in adverse weather conditions.

The configurations feature white and red steady-burning, strobe, and flashing lights.

According to wildlife biology research undertaken in the last few years, migratory birds are drawn towards non-flashing red tower lights, and often collide with the towers and their supporting guy wires.

"Migratory birds are drawn towards non-flashing red tower lights, and often collide with the towers and their supporting guy wires."

Thousands of birds are killed in tower collisions every year. Wildlife organisations, the Federal Communication Commission and the telecommunication industry have all requested the FAA change its lighting standards.

The FAA was asked to either develop configurations that include flashing lights, or completely remove the steady-burning lights from some towers to reduce the threat to migratory birds.

In response to the request, the federal agency carried out a number of flight tests in northern Michigan to compare existing steady-burning lighting with a range of flashing light types.

The trials showed that the new flashing lights were capable of warning pilots of obstructions while increasing safety for birds.


Image: Migratory birds are particularly attracted to non-flashing red tower lights. Photo: courtesy of FAA.