ARRL Working with Senator Inhofe to amend the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016

Senator Inhofe and his staff have been actively working with ARRL to amend the  FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 in order to protect Amateur Radio towers from being included in the requirements of the legislation.  As currently written, the law requires all "short towers" between 50 and 200-feet to be painted and marked, including Amateur Radio towers.  Senator Inhofe is working with us to exempt towers in the Amateur Radio Service that have historically been exempted from such requirements but are now included in the definitions of the bill.

Please contact Senator Inhofe using this tool and express your thanks for working to protect Amateur Radio!

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Dear Senator Inhofe:

As one of more than 9400 FCC-licensed Amateur Radio operators living in Oklahoma, I wanted to write to thank you for your leadership in connection with the modification of a portion of the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Act. ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, has visited with your offices on several occasions on this subject. I know from your support of the Amateur Radio Parity Act that you have been a great friend to Amateur Radio operators. We routinely provide restorative communications services to First Responders and to the general public during and after natural disasters on a voluntary, uncompensated basis. Rarely do we need your help, but we do now.

Problematic or preclusive for a very substantial number of Amateur Radio stations in Oklahoma is a single portion of H.R. 636, the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (Reauthorization Act), which was enacted last July. Section 2110 of that Act instructs FAA to enact rules by July of this year, requiring painting and lighting of short radio towers between 50 and 200 feet in height which are located in rural areas. To date, unless such short radio towers were located within the glide slope of airports or heliports, they were not required to be painted or lit. The Reauthorization Act instructs FAA to enact rules aimed at improving aircraft safety in the vicinity of meteorological evaluation towers (METs) set up in rural areas. This comes in the wake, apparently, of some crop dusting aircraft collisions with METs, which are often erected on short notice; are between 50 and 200 feet in height; and are typically located in rural agricultural areas. They tend to be very low-profile towers, hard for crop-dusting aircraft to see in certain circumstances.

There is no evidence whatsoever that even one Amateur Radio antenna has ever been involved in an aviation accident. The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a document isolating the problem calling for a solution as being limited to METs and not including Amateur Radio antennas. There is no factual basis for including Amateur Radio antennas in the obligations called for by the Reauthorization Act and every reason to exempt Amateur Radio therefrom. The cost of painting and lighting of Amateur Radio antennas is prohibitive, and will result in many thousands of towers having to be dismantled in Oklahoma alone. The estimated cost of compliance is between $10-$15 thousand dollars per antenna (even if the painting and lighting is permitted by county land use regulations, which typically it is not) which is ten times the cost of installation and maintenance otherwise. The loss of Amateur Radio antennas and support structures in rural areas will substantially diminish the capabilities of Amateur Radio operators to provide restorative emergency communications for First Responders and to the public at large following disasters. We also understand that such FAA regulations would seriously compromise broadcast and broadcast auxiliary facilities, railroad communications facilities, and especially cellular and broadband antenna facilities.

Thank you so much for your leadership in this area. It is urgent that FAA receive some modified instructions from Congress before it attempts to implement the Reauthorization Act.