NTSB wants meteorological towers marked

After three accidents involving airplanes colliding with meteorological towers, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended to the Federal Aviation Administration and three other agencies that the towers be marked for additional safety.

NTSB wants the FAA to require all towers to be registered, marked and lighted. The agency also proposed that the FAA create and maintain a publicly accessible data base for the required registration of the towers.

The safety agency proposes the Department of Interior, Department of Defense, and Department of Agriculture, as part of their review and approval of applications to build towers, to provide a copy of the obstruction marking and lighting advisory circulars.

The NTSB  also proposes the American Wind Energy Association revise its handbook to clearly indicate the hazards that meteorological towers pose to low-altitude operations and encourage marking them to improve visibility.

Also, the NTSB proposes states, District of Columbia , Puerto Rico, Northern Marina Islands, and the territories of Samoa and Virgin Islands enact legislation requiring that meteorological towers be marked and registered in a directory.

For more information: NTSB.gov


  1. David says

    The article doesn’t make clear that the MET towers that are causing the problems are the portable, temporary MET towers that the wind energy industry uses to survey for potential new wind farm sites. These towers are generally less than 200 ft (thus “exempt” from marking and lighting) and appear unexpectedly, unannounced, overnight. They may be gone in a few days, or moved short distances from day to day.

  2. Greg W says

    Painted towers are much more easily seen, towers over 200′ are required to be lighted/marked. If changes are made to aid in visually spotting towers the top light should be the old blinking red, the strobes show up well but are hard to keep track of in comparison. The slowly blinking red is easy to keep in sight and track especially in hazy conditions.

  3. Curious George says

    This is a significant step forward. A couple of years ago the FAA had the opportunity to address the problem of unmarked, suddenly appearing towers… and they dropped the ball big time. Now, a few deaths later, the NTSB is getting in the game. It’s unfortunate that the FAA caved to “green energy” political pressure the last time marking MET towers was on the table. Let’s hope we have more spine at FAA headquarters now. While the FAA and other Federal agencies diddled, several states across the US have enacted legislation to require marking and lighting of MET towers. The issue is big, and it affects any aircraft that operates within 200 feet of the ground, not just ag operators. Medevac, police, wildlife surveys, fire fighters, National Guard, US Army and Air Force helicopters etc. etc. are all potential victims of unmarked MET towers.

  4. Dale Bryan says


    Had not seen you post anything for quite some time. Just want to let you know that I’m still supporting the FAA but now in the realm of Runway Incursion Prevention.

    Are the meteorological towers mentioned those of the wind generation farms.

    I’m assuming you are still in DC area. We need to get together and discuss old times of A.M. Weather.


  5. says

    Gov’t intalled (DOI/NWS, NOAA, DOT, DOD,…) are pre-approved, properly painted / obstruction lighted, and updated in air route charts and terminal approach FLIPs if they pose any risk to aviation. Mountaintop sites are of particular concern and may be required flashing strobes as well as red OB lights.

    Commercial (private) and state operated weather observation platforms are most likely not updated on air charts and FLIPs, nor lit-up as they are generally not an obstruction to safe flyers. There are exceptions, and those are the very few we need to force-regulate under 14 CFR 77.17(c). Antenna Tower Lighting and Marking, FAA AC 70/7460-1K Obstruction Marking and Lighting, and the FCC’s new web-page for obstruction marking: http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/policy/dtv/lighting.html .

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