Marking Meteorological Evaluation Towers, 36983-36986 [2011-15746]

Download as PDF jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 122 / Friday, June 24, 2011 / Rules and Regulations (2) That have not incorporated Rolls-Royce Repeater Technical Variance TV97291, dated July 2009, or later version; and (3) That have not had the RH fuel manifold assembly cleaned using Overhaul Process Manual TSD594–J, Task 70–00–00–100–121, as instructed in Component Maintenance Manual, Tubes, Hoses, and Ducts, dated October 2009, or later version; and (4) That have not had the RH manifold assembly replaced with a new RH manifold assembly; and (5) That have not incorporated Rolls-Royce plc Alert Service Bulletin No. RB.211–73– AG327, Revision 1, dated May 4, 2010, or later version, then: (i) Initially clean and inspect the RH fuel manifold assembly or replace the RH fuel manifold assembly with a serviceable RH fuel manifold assembly. (ii) Guidance on cleaning, inspecting, or replacing of the RH manifold assembly, can be found in Rolls-Royce plc Alert Service Bulletin No. RB.211–73–AG422, Revision 2, dated January 14, 2011. (iii) Perform the cleaning, inspection, or replacement at the following times: (A) For engines with 3,200 cycles-sincenew (CSN) or more, clean and inspect within 200 cycles after the effective date of this AD. (B) For engines with between 3,000 CSN and 3,199 CSN, clean and inspect no later than 3,400 CSN. (C) For engines with between 2,600 CSN and 2,999 CSN, clean and inspect within 400 cycles after the effective date of this AD. (D) For engines with between 2,400 CSN and 2,599 CSN, clean and inspect no later than 3,000 CSN. (E) For engines with between 1,300 CSN and 2,399 CSN, clean and inspect within 600 cycles after the effective date of this AD. (F) For engines with fewer than 1,300 CSN, clean and inspect no later than 1,900 CSN. (6) For engines that on the effective date of this AD, have been repaired using Engine Management Program, Issue 7, dated May 7, 2010 or later version; or (7) That have incorporated Rolls-Royce Repeater Technical Variance TV97291, dated July 2009, or later version; or (8) That have had the RH fuel manifold assembly cleaned using Overhaul Process Manual TSD594–J, Task 70–00–00–100–121, as instructed in Component Maintenance Manual, Tubes, Hoses, and Ducts, dated October 2009, or later version; or (9) That have had the RH manifold assembly replaced with a new RH manifold assembly; or (10) That have incorporated Rolls-Royce plc Alert Service Bulletin No. RB.211–73– AG327, Revision 1, dated May 4, 2010, or later version, then: (i) Initially clean and inspect the RH fuel manifold assembly or replace the RH fuel manifold assembly with a serviceable RH fuel manifold assembly, within 1,300 cycles since the engine most recently met any of the requirements of paragraphs (e)(6) through (e)(10) of this AD. (ii) Guidance on cleaning, inspecting, or replacing of the RH manifold assembly, can be found in Rolls-Royce plc Alert Service Bulletin No. RB.211–73–AG422, Revision 2, dated January 14, 2011. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Jun 23, 2011 Jkt 223001 36983 Repetitive Cleaning and Inspection, or Replacement DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (11) Thereafter, repetitively clean and inspect the RH fuel manifold assembly or replace the RH fuel manifold assembly with a serviceable RH fuel manifold assembly, within 1,300 cycles since performing the last cleaning and inspection or replacement. Federal Aviation Administration Optional Terminating Action (12) As optional terminating action to the repetitive actions in this AD, remove RH fuel manifold assembly, part number FW18706, and install a redesigned RH fuel manifold assembly. Guidance on installing the redesigned RH fuel manifold assembly can be found in Rolls-Royce plc Service Bulletin No. RB.211–73–G547, dated December 7, 2010. FAA AD Differences (f) None. Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs) (g) The Manager, Engine Certification Office, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. Related Information (h) Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency Airworthiness Directive 2011– 0050, dated March 21, 2011, Rolls-Royce plc Alert Service Bulletin No. RB.211–73– AG422, Revision 2, dated January 14, 2011, and Rolls-Royce plc Service Bulletin No. RB.211–73–G547, dated December 7, 2010, for related information. Contact Rolls-Royce plc, Corporate Communications, P.O. Box 31, Derby, England, DE248BJ, telephone: 011– 44–1332–242424; fax: 011–44–1332–245418; or e-mail via: http://www.rolls-royce.com/ contact/civil_team.jsp, for a copy of this service information. (i) Contact Alan Strom, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 12 New England Executive Park, Burlington, MA 01803; telephone 781–238–7143; fax 781– 238–7199; e-mail: alan.strom@faa.gov, for more information about this AD. Material Incorporated by Reference (j) None. Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on June 14, 2011. Peter A. White, Acting Manager, Engine and Propeller Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service. [FR Doc. 2011–15677 Filed 6–23–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 14 CFR Part 77 [Docket No: FAA 2010–1326] Marking Meteorological Evaluation Towers Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT. ACTION: Policy statement. AGENCY: This action announces the FAA’s recommended guidance for the voluntary marking of Meteorological Evaluation Towers (METs) erected in remote and rural areas that are less than 200 feet above ground level (AGL). This guidance will enhance the conspicuity of the towers for low level agricultural operations in the vicinity of these towers. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sheri Edgett Baron, Obstruction Evaluation Group, Air Traffic Organization, AJV–15, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267–8783; e-mail: sheri.edgett-baron@faa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 14 CFR Part 77 Title 49 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), section 40103(a)(1), provides that the ‘‘United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.’’ Paragraph (b) of this section directs the FAA to ‘‘develop plans and policy for the use of the navigable airspace and assign by regulation or order the use of the airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of the airspace.’’ In recognition of the threat tall structures can pose to aviation safety, 49 U.S.C. 44718 directed the FAA to promulgate regulations requiring notice of proposed structures or alterations of existing structures when the notice will promote safety in air commerce and the efficient use and preservation of the navigable airspace and of airport traffic capacity at public-use airports. See 14 CFR part 77. The agency was further directed to study such structures and determine the extent of any adverse impacts on the safe and efficient use of the airspace, facilities or equipment. Consistent with the above statutory and regulatory framework, the FAA has adopted policy to establish the standards for which the FAA identifies ‘‘obstructions’’ and ‘‘hazards’’ in the navigable airspace in furtherance of its E:\FR\FM\24JNR1.SGM 24JNR1 36984 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 122 / Friday, June 24, 2011 / Rules and Regulations jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with RULES responsibilities to manage the navigable airspace safely and efficiently. See 14 CFR part 77 and FAA Order 7400.2, Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters. Part 77 specifies when notice must be filed with the FAA for the construction of a structure or alteration of (an existing) structure. In filing this notice, the proponent provides the required information and submits its marking and lighting plan for that proposal, if appropriate. Sponsors are encouraged to review the guidance in Advisory Circular No. 70/7460–1, Obstruction Marking and Lighting in devising the marking and lighting plan for the proposed structure. In conducting the aeronautical study, the FAA considers the proposed structure, including the marking and lighting plan, and determines the impact on air navigation. If the FAA issues a Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation, the determination may be conditioned on the structure being marked and lighted in accordance with the determination. Unless notice is required under a separate paragraph of § 77.9, the FAA does not study structures under 200 feet AGL at its site. I. Background The FAA has been approached by operators, associations representing agricultural operators, and state governments concerning the visibility of METs in remote and rural areas that also have low-level flight operations. METs are used by wind energy companies to determine feasible sites for wind turbines. Some of these towers are less than 200 feet AGL, usually at 198 feet or less. The structures are portable, erected in a matter of hours, installed with guyed wires and constructed from a galvanized material often making them difficult to see in certain atmospheric conditions. The METs that fall under the 200 foot AGL threshold, specified in § 77.9, are not subject to the notice requirements and do not trigger any aeronautical study by the FAA. On January 5, 2011, the FAA published a document seeking comments on proposed guidance for the voluntary marking of METs less than 200 feet AGL (76 FR 1326). The FAA agrees that marking these structures would enhance the conspicuity of these METs, particularly for low-level agricultural operations. The document set forth three recommendations for comment. First, the FAA recommended that the METs be painted in accordance with the criteria contained in Chapter 3, paragraphs 30–33 of AC No. 70/7460–1. In particular, paragraph 33 discusses the VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Jun 23, 2011 Jkt 223001 paint pattern used to mark structures based on size and shape. Section (d) of that paragraph specifically refers to communication towers and catenary support structures, poles, smokestacks and skeletal framework of storage tanks and similar structures. The METs addressed in this document are similar to the structures identified in this paragraph. Therefore, the FAA proposed the guidance recommended for these structures, which is alternating bands of aviation orange and white. Secondly, the FAA recommended spherical and/or flag markers be used in addition to the above paint pattern when additional conspicuity is necessary for aviation safety. Paragraph 34 provides recommended guidance for the use of spherical and flag markers. Lastly, the FAA proposed high visibility sleeves and/or flags on the outer guy wires of these METs. While AC No. 70/7460–1 does not contain this type of marking, the FAA specifically sought comments as whether this type of marking would be feasible and appropriate. II. Summary of Comments and FAA Response The comment period closed on February 4, 2011 and the FAA received approximately 460 comments from individuals, aviation associations, industry users, aviation businesses, emergency medical services, state governments and state departments of transportation. Many comments received were in response to the January 10, 2011 fatal accident involving a Rockwell International S–2R aircraft that collided with a MET during an aerial application in Oakley, California. Most commenters supported a goal of improving the safety of certain aviation operations in the vicinity of METs that are less than 200 feet in height. Some commenters supported various forms of marking the METs not proposed in the document, and others supported marking and lighting METs. Only 3 commenters opposed the proposed guidance. The comments covered the following general areas of the proposal: marking and lighting METS, the advantages and disadvantages of affixing sleeves and spherical marker balls, establishing a database of METs, and making the guidance for marking mandatory. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and California Wind Energy Association favored enhancing pilot safety. AWEA supported painting the METs as proposed, but commented that painting the top 1⁄3 of the tower would be sufficient. The National Agricultural PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Aviation Association (NAAA) commented that the marking provisions should apply to any tower over 50 feet AGL. NAAA further contends that paint must be applied to the entire vertical length of the tower in order to be effective. Transport Canada, which recently issued an Advisory Circular 1 for marking of METs, recommend painting the entire support mast. The FAA agrees that painting the entire structure will provide the best visibility for pilots. As aerial applicators fly close to the vegetation and well below 200 feet AGL, the MET should be visible against the terrain as well as the sky. Therefore, the most effective painting scheme would entail painting the entire structure with alternating bands of aviation orange and white paint, as described in AC No. 70/7460– 1, paragraphs 30–33. These provisions also recommend that the paint should be replaced when faded or otherwise deteriorated. The FAA received varying comments on the usage and length of sleeves on METs. Several commenters, including AWEA and Iberdrola, stated that there is a practical limit as to how much weight the guy wires can sustain and a limited percentage of wires can bear the additional weight of sheathing. AWEA also stated that sleeves could add significant stress, particularly in icing situations, and undermine the structural integrity of the tower and lead to failure. Commenters indicated that the length of the sleeve should be determined on a case-by-case basis, and result in a sheath that is sufficient to rise above tall crops or other land cover but still remain visible to pilots. The Helicopter Association International recommended at least 16 feet of high visibility sleeves on guy wires at the anchor point to extend above any surrounding crop. Other commenters recommended sheathing in a range of 6–10 feet. The FAA received similar comments from Iberdrola, AWEA, NAAA and other agricultural associations on the use of spherical marker balls. These commenters stated that marker balls can attract significant icing, which increase loads on the tower and can lead to tower failure, as well as interfere with instrumentation and affect accuracy of MET readings. Various agricultural associations and others supported the use of spherical marker balls painted aviation orange. EcoEnergy uses 4 high visibility cable balls on the outer guy wires. Iowa Agricultural Aviation Association recommended 8 total 1 Transport Canada Advisory Circular No. 600– 001, Marking of Meteorological Towers (Mar. 3, 2011). E:\FR\FM\24JNR1.SGM 24JNR1 jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 122 / Friday, June 24, 2011 / Rules and Regulations marker balls. Iberdrola uses 4 marker balls installed just above ground-based sheathing to enhance visibility of the furthest extent of guy wires and a second set of 4 marker balls installed approximately 45 meters AGL to enhance visibility of the painted tower segment that delineates the tallest extent of the tower. Iberdola strongly discouraged consideration of additional maker balls (more than 8) on METs as structural integrity limits are encroached upon with further loading. Additionally, a few comments supported the use of marker flags in conjunction with spherical marker balls. The commenters also noted that flags may be useful as a visual aid, but are subject to rapid deterioration from weather conditions such as wind, snow, and ice. The FAA concludes that sleeves and spherical marker balls will enhance the conspicuity of METs particularly for low flying agricultural and other aviation operations. The FAA recommends one high visibility sleeve on each guy wire anchor point that will reach a height well above the crop or vegetation canopy, and another sleeve installed on each of the outer guy wires. The FAA recognizes that certain weather conditions may affect the placement and use of high visibility sleeves on guy wires, and that the length should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Spherical markers may have different placement standards, depending on the company that manufactures them. Varying placement standards and other factors such as weather play a role in the placement of spherical markers and flexibility is needed when determining their position on the METs. As a general recommendation, that FAA recommends a total of 8 high visibility spherical marker (or cable) balls of aviation orange color attached to the guy wires; four marker balls should be attached to guy wires at the top of the tower no further than 15 feet from the top wire connection to the tower, and 4 marker balls at or below the mid point of the structure on the outer guy wires. As stated previously, the FAA recognizes that the varying factors identified above may result in the placement or number of marker balls used and should be addressed on a caseby-case basis. The use of sleeves should not impact the placement of spherical marker balls. Existing guidance in AC 70/7460, paragraph 34(b) states that flags are used to mark certain structures or objects when it is technically impractical to use spherical markers or painting. The FAA recommends spherical markers and VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Jun 23, 2011 Jkt 223001 paint, however, the FAA did not receive sufficient data on the use of flags on the guy wires that support METs to provide recommendations on their use for these towers. NAAA, HAI, and others submitted various recommendations for lighting METs. The comments recommended varied uses of red lights and white strobe lights. Some commenters also stated that a recommendation for lights would require a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to be issued when the lights were not operational.2 Lighting studies indicate that red lights are difficult to see during the day, and that the most acceptable lighting configuration would be the use of a high intensity white strobe. The FAA acknowledges that the addition of lights may make METs more visible to agricultural and other low flying operations. The FAA concludes, however, that it would not be practical to recommend lights for the METs addressed in this document. The remoteness of many MET locations does not allow for pre-existing power sources, and strobe lights require more power than red lights. While solar lights may be a possible option, the FAA has not studied solar lighting and therefore, cannot provide recommendations for flight visibility. Additionally, when the FAA conducts an aeronautical study, it reviews many factors in determining whether lighting is necessary. These factors include height, location, proximity to an airport, flight activity in the area, and complexity of terrain. Without a similar evaluation process, the FAA cannot recommend lighting for METs. It is important to note that the FAA does not recommending lighting in every aeronautical study. The State of Minnesota commented that it is important to collect and share information METs siting in a timely manner, and that recommendations to mark and light METs should not hinder any growth aspirations of the wind industry. NAAA proposed that the FAA establish a database that catalogues all tower locations, similar to the initiative by the State of Wyoming. It is not feasible for the FAA to maintain a national database for structures that are less than 200 feet AGL and otherwise not subject to the notice requirement in part 77. The FAA does not object to a state or local jurisdiction maintaining or providing a source of information that would inform pilots as to the location or planned 2 The FAA notes that a NOTAM is issued for light outages only for structures subject to an FAA determination that specifies lighting. PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 36985 location of these towers or for some other zoning, planning or public welfare purpose. Many commenters responded that marking and lighting of METs should be mandatory. The FAA also received comments from the Experimental Aircraft Association, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, and others recommending changes to part 77 so that the FAA may study different structures at heights constructed less than 200 feet. NAAA also commented that upon adoption of revised standards, any towers erected before the adoption date shall be marked within six months after the effective date. The purpose of this proposal was to address a limited population of METs that are not studied under part 77, but are difficult to see by certain low level aircraft operations. The guidance is recommended to landowners and developers siting these towers in remote, rural agricultural areas. The guidance recommended here is not necessary for METs that are erected in urban areas and far removed from areas where rural agricultural spraying operations are conducted. Landowners and developers must exercise discretion in determining if the METs will be erected in this type area where these operations are conducted and whether the marking and painting would enhance the visibility of these structures to low-level flight operations. The FAA received comments pertaining to environmental impact issues and vegetation management. The Marin Audubon Society supporting the inclusion of guidance for measures to reduce the risk of collision for aircraft and birds. Other commenters claimed that steady red lights attract and confuse birds and that sleeves and skeletal framework of METs should be designed to make them visible for birds. Three commenters opposed the proposal. One commenter was concerned that the proposal would be expanded to include amateur radio antenna supports. Another commenter was concerned with light pollution and applicability regardless of terrain and other factors. The remaining commenter inaccurately referred to this notice of policy as a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the regulations in part 77. This commenter also argued that some developers may follow the guidance and others may not, which may introduce potential for pilots to presume that all METs will be marked and could result in failure to identify and avoid unmarked towers. The commenter contends that developers that choose to voluntarily mark and E:\FR\FM\24JNR1.SGM 24JNR1 36986 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 122 / Friday, June 24, 2011 / Rules and Regulations jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with RULES light their METs would incur additional costs and time delays and this affects their ability to compete with others in the market. As stated previously, the FAA is not amending the regulations to require notice for structures less than 200 feet AGL in non-airport environments. The FAA is providing this information to enhance the visibility of structures that otherwise may be difficult to see due to the terrain and the nature of specific operations conducted around these METs. While this guidance is not mandatory, the FAA anticipates that in the interest of aviation safety, developers and landowners will consider this guidance for METs erected in the environments described in this document. III. Policy The FAA recommends voluntary marking of METs less than 200 feet AGL in accordance with marking guidance contained in this document and Advisory Circular 70–7460–l, Obstruction Marking and Lighting. The FAA notes that historically this guidance has not been applied to the voluntary marking of METs less than 200 feet AGL. However, the FAA recognizes the need to address safety impacts to low-level flight operations due to the construction of METs in remote and rural areas, especially as agricultural spraying season approaches. Due to the growing concerns expressed by operators, associations representing agricultural operators, and state and local governments throughout the agricultural industry, the FAA believes that voluntary marking of METs less than 200 AGL in remote and rural areas enhance the visibility of these structures to low level agricultural operations in the vicinity of these towers. The FAA recommends that landowners and developers use guidance contained in Advisory Circular 70/7460–1, Obstruction marking and Lighting for the voluntary marking of METs less than 200 feet AGL. METs should be painted in accordance to criteria contained in Chapter 3, paragraphs 30–33 of AC No. 70/7460–1, specifically, with alternate bands of aviation orange and white paint. In addition, paragraph 34 states that all markings should be replaced when faded or otherwise deteriorated. The FAA recommends that high visibility sleeves be installed on the outer guy wires of METs as described in this document. The FAA intends, at a future date, to amend the advisory circular to include guidance on sleeves. Additionally, the FAA recommends high visibility spherical marker (or cable) balls of aviation orange color are VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:28 Jun 23, 2011 Jkt 223001 attached to the guy wires. Spherical markers should be installed and displayed in accordance to guidance contained in this document and additional standards contained in Chapter 3, paragraph 34 of AC No. 70/ 70460–1. The FAA, however, recognizes various weather conditions and manufacturing placement standards may affect the placement and use of high visibility sleeves and/or spherical markers. Thus, flexibility is needed when determining sleeve length and marker placement on METs. Issued in Washington, DC, on June 20, 2011. Dennis E. Roberts, Director, ATO Airspace Services, AJV–1. [FR Doc. 2011–15746 Filed 6–23–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security 15 CFR Parts 734, 740, 743 and 774 [Docket No. 110210131–1317–01] RIN 0694–AF15 Export Controls for High Performance Computers: Wassenaar Arrangement Agreement Implementation for ECCN 4A003 and Revisions to License Exception APP Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This final rule revises the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to implement changes made to the Wassenaar Arrangement’s List of Dual Use Goods and Technologies (Wassenaar List) maintained and agreed to by governments participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual Use Goods and Technologies (Wassenaar Arrangement, or WA) at the December 2009 WA Plenary Meeting (the Plenary) that relate to Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) 4A003. These changes agreed to at the Plenary pertain to raising the Adjusted Peak Performance (APP) for digital computers in ECCN 4A003. In accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 1998, the President’s report for High Performance Computers was sent to Congress on February 7, 2011, to identify and set forth a justification for the new APP. This rule also makes corresponding revisions to License Exception APP, the de minimis rule, SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 and post shipment verification reporting requirements in the EAR. Additionally, this rule moves Albania and Croatia from Computer Tier 3 to Computer Tier 1 in the section of the EAR dedicated to export control requirements for high performance computers. The Administration believes Albania and Croatia are eligible to be treated as Computer Tier 1 countries because their governments have made the necessary reforms to allow the countries to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and have adopted accepted global standards in export controls. DATES: Effective Dates: This rule is effective on June 24, 2011. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general questions contact Sharron Cook, Office of Exporter Services, Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce at 202–482 2440 or by e-mail: sharron.cook@bis.doc.gov. For technical questions contact: Joseph Young at 202–482–4197 or by e-mail at joseph.young@bis.doc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background In July 1996, the United States and thirty-three other countries gave final approval to the establishment of a new multilateral export control arrangement called the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual Use Goods and Technologies (Wassenaar Arrangement or WA). The Wassenaar Arrangement contributes to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations of such items. Participating states committed to exchange information on exports of dual use goods and technologies to nonparticipating states for the purposes of enhancing transparency and assisting in developing a common understanding of the risks associated with the transfers of these items. For more information on the Wassenaar Arrangement go to http://www.wassenaar.org/. Many computers are exported and reexported using License Exception Adjusted Peak Performance (APP). The primary eligibility criteria considered for this license exception are destination country and the processing speed. In the past, the processing speed was measured using a formula that would result in the Composite Theoretical Performance (CTP) of a computer. Presently, the speed of computers is calculated using a formula that results in the Adjusted Peak Performance E:\FR\FM\24JNR1.SGM 24JNR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 122 (Friday, June 24, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 36983-36986]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-15746]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 77

[Docket No: FAA 2010-1326]


Marking Meteorological Evaluation Towers

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Policy statement.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This action announces the FAA's recommended guidance for the 
voluntary marking of Meteorological Evaluation Towers (METs) erected in 
remote and rural areas that are less than 200 feet above ground level 
(AGL). This guidance will enhance the conspicuity of the towers for low 
level agricultural operations in the vicinity of these towers.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sheri Edgett Baron, Obstruction 
Evaluation Group, Air Traffic Organization, AJV-15, Federal Aviation 
Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; 
telephone: (202) 267-8783; e-mail: sheri.edgett-baron@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

14 CFR Part 77

    Title 49 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), section 40103(a)(1), 
provides that the ``United States Government has exclusive sovereignty 
of airspace of the United States.'' Paragraph (b) of this section 
directs the FAA to ``develop plans and policy for the use of the 
navigable airspace and assign by regulation or order the use of the 
airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient 
use of the airspace.''
    In recognition of the threat tall structures can pose to aviation 
safety, 49 U.S.C. 44718 directed the FAA to promulgate regulations 
requiring notice of proposed structures or alterations of existing 
structures when the notice will promote safety in air commerce and the 
efficient use and preservation of the navigable airspace and of airport 
traffic capacity at public-use airports. See 14 CFR part 77. The agency 
was further directed to study such structures and determine the extent 
of any adverse impacts on the safe and efficient use of the airspace, 
facilities or equipment.
    Consistent with the above statutory and regulatory framework, the 
FAA has adopted policy to establish the standards for which the FAA 
identifies ``obstructions'' and ``hazards'' in the navigable airspace 
in furtherance of its

[[Page 36984]]

responsibilities to manage the navigable airspace safely and 
efficiently. See 14 CFR part 77 and FAA Order 7400.2, Procedures for 
Handling Airspace Matters.
    Part 77 specifies when notice must be filed with the FAA for the 
construction of a structure or alteration of (an existing) structure. 
In filing this notice, the proponent provides the required information 
and submits its marking and lighting plan for that proposal, if 
appropriate. Sponsors are encouraged to review the guidance in Advisory 
Circular No. 70/7460-1, Obstruction Marking and Lighting in devising 
the marking and lighting plan for the proposed structure. In conducting 
the aeronautical study, the FAA considers the proposed structure, 
including the marking and lighting plan, and determines the impact on 
air navigation. If the FAA issues a Determination of No Hazard to Air 
Navigation, the determination may be conditioned on the structure being 
marked and lighted in accordance with the determination. Unless notice 
is required under a separate paragraph of Sec.  77.9, the FAA does not 
study structures under 200 feet AGL at its site.

I. Background

    The FAA has been approached by operators, associations representing 
agricultural operators, and state governments concerning the visibility 
of METs in remote and rural areas that also have low-level flight 
operations. METs are used by wind energy companies to determine 
feasible sites for wind turbines. Some of these towers are less than 
200 feet AGL, usually at 198 feet or less. The structures are portable, 
erected in a matter of hours, installed with guyed wires and 
constructed from a galvanized material often making them difficult to 
see in certain atmospheric conditions. The METs that fall under the 200 
foot AGL threshold, specified in Sec.  77.9, are not subject to the 
notice requirements and do not trigger any aeronautical study by the 
FAA.
    On January 5, 2011, the FAA published a document seeking comments 
on proposed guidance for the voluntary marking of METs less than 200 
feet AGL (76 FR 1326). The FAA agrees that marking these structures 
would enhance the conspicuity of these METs, particularly for low-level 
agricultural operations.
    The document set forth three recommendations for comment. First, 
the FAA recommended that the METs be painted in accordance with the 
criteria contained in Chapter 3, paragraphs 30-33 of AC No. 70/7460-1. 
In particular, paragraph 33 discusses the paint pattern used to mark 
structures based on size and shape. Section (d) of that paragraph 
specifically refers to communication towers and catenary support 
structures, poles, smokestacks and skeletal framework of storage tanks 
and similar structures. The METs addressed in this document are similar 
to the structures identified in this paragraph. Therefore, the FAA 
proposed the guidance recommended for these structures, which is 
alternating bands of aviation orange and white.
    Secondly, the FAA recommended spherical and/or flag markers be used 
in addition to the above paint pattern when additional conspicuity is 
necessary for aviation safety. Paragraph 34 provides recommended 
guidance for the use of spherical and flag markers.
    Lastly, the FAA proposed high visibility sleeves and/or flags on 
the outer guy wires of these METs. While AC No. 70/7460-1 does not 
contain this type of marking, the FAA specifically sought comments as 
whether this type of marking would be feasible and appropriate.

II. Summary of Comments and FAA Response

    The comment period closed on February 4, 2011 and the FAA received 
approximately 460 comments from individuals, aviation associations, 
industry users, aviation businesses, emergency medical services, state 
governments and state departments of transportation. Many comments 
received were in response to the January 10, 2011 fatal accident 
involving a Rockwell International S-2R aircraft that collided with a 
MET during an aerial application in Oakley, California. Most commenters 
supported a goal of improving the safety of certain aviation operations 
in the vicinity of METs that are less than 200 feet in height. Some 
commenters supported various forms of marking the METs not proposed in 
the document, and others supported marking and lighting METs. Only 3 
commenters opposed the proposed guidance.
    The comments covered the following general areas of the proposal: 
marking and lighting METS, the advantages and disadvantages of affixing 
sleeves and spherical marker balls, establishing a database of METs, 
and making the guidance for marking mandatory.
    The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and California Wind 
Energy Association favored enhancing pilot safety. AWEA supported 
painting the METs as proposed, but commented that painting the top \1/
3\ of the tower would be sufficient. The National Agricultural Aviation 
Association (NAAA) commented that the marking provisions should apply 
to any tower over 50 feet AGL. NAAA further contends that paint must be 
applied to the entire vertical length of the tower in order to be 
effective. Transport Canada, which recently issued an Advisory Circular 
\1\ for marking of METs, recommend painting the entire support mast.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Transport Canada Advisory Circular No. 600-001, Marking of 
Meteorological Towers (Mar. 3, 2011).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The FAA agrees that painting the entire structure will provide the 
best visibility for pilots. As aerial applicators fly close to the 
vegetation and well below 200 feet AGL, the MET should be visible 
against the terrain as well as the sky. Therefore, the most effective 
painting scheme would entail painting the entire structure with 
alternating bands of aviation orange and white paint, as described in 
AC No. 70/7460-1, paragraphs 30-33. These provisions also recommend 
that the paint should be replaced when faded or otherwise deteriorated.
    The FAA received varying comments on the usage and length of 
sleeves on METs. Several commenters, including AWEA and Iberdrola, 
stated that there is a practical limit as to how much weight the guy 
wires can sustain and a limited percentage of wires can bear the 
additional weight of sheathing. AWEA also stated that sleeves could add 
significant stress, particularly in icing situations, and undermine the 
structural integrity of the tower and lead to failure.
    Commenters indicated that the length of the sleeve should be 
determined on a case-by-case basis, and result in a sheath that is 
sufficient to rise above tall crops or other land cover but still 
remain visible to pilots. The Helicopter Association International 
recommended at least 16 feet of high visibility sleeves on guy wires at 
the anchor point to extend above any surrounding crop. Other commenters 
recommended sheathing in a range of 6-10 feet.
    The FAA received similar comments from Iberdrola, AWEA, NAAA and 
other agricultural associations on the use of spherical marker balls. 
These commenters stated that marker balls can attract significant 
icing, which increase loads on the tower and can lead to tower failure, 
as well as interfere with instrumentation and affect accuracy of MET 
readings. Various agricultural associations and others supported the 
use of spherical marker balls painted aviation orange. EcoEnergy uses 4 
high visibility cable balls on the outer guy wires. Iowa Agricultural 
Aviation Association recommended 8 total

[[Page 36985]]

marker balls. Iberdrola uses 4 marker balls installed just above 
ground-based sheathing to enhance visibility of the furthest extent of 
guy wires and a second set of 4 marker balls installed approximately 45 
meters AGL to enhance visibility of the painted tower segment that 
delineates the tallest extent of the tower. Iberdola strongly 
discouraged consideration of additional maker balls (more than 8) on 
METs as structural integrity limits are encroached upon with further 
loading.
    Additionally, a few comments supported the use of marker flags in 
conjunction with spherical marker balls. The commenters also noted that 
flags may be useful as a visual aid, but are subject to rapid 
deterioration from weather conditions such as wind, snow, and ice.
    The FAA concludes that sleeves and spherical marker balls will 
enhance the conspicuity of METs particularly for low flying 
agricultural and other aviation operations. The FAA recommends one high 
visibility sleeve on each guy wire anchor point that will reach a 
height well above the crop or vegetation canopy, and another sleeve 
installed on each of the outer guy wires. The FAA recognizes that 
certain weather conditions may affect the placement and use of high 
visibility sleeves on guy wires, and that the length should be 
determined on a case-by-case basis.
    Spherical markers may have different placement standards, depending 
on the company that manufactures them. Varying placement standards and 
other factors such as weather play a role in the placement of spherical 
markers and flexibility is needed when determining their position on 
the METs. As a general recommendation, that FAA recommends a total of 8 
high visibility spherical marker (or cable) balls of aviation orange 
color attached to the guy wires; four marker balls should be attached 
to guy wires at the top of the tower no further than 15 feet from the 
top wire connection to the tower, and 4 marker balls at or below the 
mid point of the structure on the outer guy wires. As stated 
previously, the FAA recognizes that the varying factors identified 
above may result in the placement or number of marker balls used and 
should be addressed on a case-by-case basis. The use of sleeves should 
not impact the placement of spherical marker balls.
    Existing guidance in AC 70/7460, paragraph 34(b) states that flags 
are used to mark certain structures or objects when it is technically 
impractical to use spherical markers or painting. The FAA recommends 
spherical markers and paint, however, the FAA did not receive 
sufficient data on the use of flags on the guy wires that support METs 
to provide recommendations on their use for these towers.
    NAAA, HAI, and others submitted various recommendations for 
lighting METs. The comments recommended varied uses of red lights and 
white strobe lights. Some commenters also stated that a recommendation 
for lights would require a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to be issued when 
the lights were not operational.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ The FAA notes that a NOTAM is issued for light outages only 
for structures subject to an FAA determination that specifies 
lighting.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Lighting studies indicate that red lights are difficult to see 
during the day, and that the most acceptable lighting configuration 
would be the use of a high intensity white strobe. The FAA acknowledges 
that the addition of lights may make METs more visible to agricultural 
and other low flying operations. The FAA concludes, however, that it 
would not be practical to recommend lights for the METs addressed in 
this document. The remoteness of many MET locations does not allow for 
pre-existing power sources, and strobe lights require more power than 
red lights. While solar lights may be a possible option, the FAA has 
not studied solar lighting and therefore, cannot provide 
recommendations for flight visibility.
    Additionally, when the FAA conducts an aeronautical study, it 
reviews many factors in determining whether lighting is necessary. 
These factors include height, location, proximity to an airport, flight 
activity in the area, and complexity of terrain. Without a similar 
evaluation process, the FAA cannot recommend lighting for METs. It is 
important to note that the FAA does not recommending lighting in every 
aeronautical study.
    The State of Minnesota commented that it is important to collect 
and share information METs siting in a timely manner, and that 
recommendations to mark and light METs should not hinder any growth 
aspirations of the wind industry. NAAA proposed that the FAA establish 
a database that catalogues all tower locations, similar to the 
initiative by the State of Wyoming.
    It is not feasible for the FAA to maintain a national database for 
structures that are less than 200 feet AGL and otherwise not subject to 
the notice requirement in part 77. The FAA does not object to a state 
or local jurisdiction maintaining or providing a source of information 
that would inform pilots as to the location or planned location of 
these towers or for some other zoning, planning or public welfare 
purpose.
    Many commenters responded that marking and lighting of METs should 
be mandatory. The FAA also received comments from the Experimental 
Aircraft Association, the National Association of State Aviation 
Officials, and others recommending changes to part 77 so that the FAA 
may study different structures at heights constructed less than 200 
feet. NAAA also commented that upon adoption of revised standards, any 
towers erected before the adoption date shall be marked within six 
months after the effective date.
    The purpose of this proposal was to address a limited population of 
METs that are not studied under part 77, but are difficult to see by 
certain low level aircraft operations. The guidance is recommended to 
landowners and developers siting these towers in remote, rural 
agricultural areas. The guidance recommended here is not necessary for 
METs that are erected in urban areas and far removed from areas where 
rural agricultural spraying operations are conducted. Landowners and 
developers must exercise discretion in determining if the METs will be 
erected in this type area where these operations are conducted and 
whether the marking and painting would enhance the visibility of these 
structures to low-level flight operations.
    The FAA received comments pertaining to environmental impact issues 
and vegetation management. The Marin Audubon Society supporting the 
inclusion of guidance for measures to reduce the risk of collision for 
aircraft and birds. Other commenters claimed that steady red lights 
attract and confuse birds and that sleeves and skeletal framework of 
METs should be designed to make them visible for birds.
    Three commenters opposed the proposal. One commenter was concerned 
that the proposal would be expanded to include amateur radio antenna 
supports. Another commenter was concerned with light pollution and 
applicability regardless of terrain and other factors. The remaining 
commenter inaccurately referred to this notice of policy as a notice of 
proposed rulemaking to amend the regulations in part 77. This commenter 
also argued that some developers may follow the guidance and others may 
not, which may introduce potential for pilots to presume that all METs 
will be marked and could result in failure to identify and avoid 
unmarked towers. The commenter contends that developers that choose to 
voluntarily mark and

[[Page 36986]]

light their METs would incur additional costs and time delays and this 
affects their ability to compete with others in the market. As stated 
previously, the FAA is not amending the regulations to require notice 
for structures less than 200 feet AGL in non-airport environments. The 
FAA is providing this information to enhance the visibility of 
structures that otherwise may be difficult to see due to the terrain 
and the nature of specific operations conducted around these METs. 
While this guidance is not mandatory, the FAA anticipates that in the 
interest of aviation safety, developers and landowners will consider 
this guidance for METs erected in the environments described in this 
document.

III. Policy

    The FAA recommends voluntary marking of METs less than 200 feet AGL 
in accordance with marking guidance contained in this document and 
Advisory Circular 70-7460-l, Obstruction Marking and Lighting. The FAA 
notes that historically this guidance has not been applied to the 
voluntary marking of METs less than 200 feet AGL. However, the FAA 
recognizes the need to address safety impacts to low-level flight 
operations due to the construction of METs in remote and rural areas, 
especially as agricultural spraying season approaches. Due to the 
growing concerns expressed by operators, associations representing 
agricultural operators, and state and local governments throughout the 
agricultural industry, the FAA believes that voluntary marking of METs 
less than 200 AGL in remote and rural areas enhance the visibility of 
these structures to low level agricultural operations in the vicinity 
of these towers.
    The FAA recommends that landowners and developers use guidance 
contained in Advisory Circular 70/7460-1, Obstruction marking and 
Lighting for the voluntary marking of METs less than 200 feet AGL. METs 
should be painted in accordance to criteria contained in Chapter 3, 
paragraphs 30-33 of AC No. 70/7460-1, specifically, with alternate 
bands of aviation orange and white paint. In addition, paragraph 34 
states that all markings should be replaced when faded or otherwise 
deteriorated. The FAA recommends that high visibility sleeves be 
installed on the outer guy wires of METs as described in this document. 
The FAA intends, at a future date, to amend the advisory circular to 
include guidance on sleeves. Additionally, the FAA recommends high 
visibility spherical marker (or cable) balls of aviation orange color 
are attached to the guy wires. Spherical markers should be installed 
and displayed in accordance to guidance contained in this document and 
additional standards contained in Chapter 3, paragraph 34 of AC No. 70/
70460-1. The FAA, however, recognizes various weather conditions and 
manufacturing placement standards may affect the placement and use of 
high visibility sleeves and/or spherical markers. Thus, flexibility is 
needed when determining sleeve length and marker placement on METs.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on June 20, 2011.
Dennis E. Roberts,
Director, ATO Airspace Services, AJV-1.
[FR Doc. 2011-15746 Filed 6-23-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P