Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Compliance for Temporary Wind Turbine Lighting

This is my first “guest post” in the blog.

I’ve been contacted by Mr Stewart Erwin who asked me to incorporate his article. I think it’s interesting (even if it’s focused only in the US market) and on topic.

It was originally published on LinkedIn.

Mr Erwin works for Carmanah – feel free to contact him for more info.

 There are new changes for wind turbine construction this year. In December, the FAA announced new guidelines for temporary obstruction lighting to increase safety for pilots and flights. To comply, the FAA now requires a FAA L-810 steady-burning red light that can maintain autonomy for 7 days at 32.5 candela on all turbines once they reach a height of 200 ft (61m).  In addition, the FAA reminded the industry that submitting a Notice to Airman (NOTAM) is not accepted to justify not lighting the turbine (FAA AC 70/7460-1L).

If power is not available for temporary lights, the FAA recommends the use a self-contained, solar-powered, LED steady burning red light that meets the photometric requirements (L-810) instead.  Choosing the correct light to meet compliance can sometimes be confusing.  The guidelines are very specific and many solar lighting manufacturers will only have one light that can meet these specifications. It is important to understand the FAA compliance in full, in order to select an appropriate solar product.

Submitting a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to justify not lighting the turbine during construction, is prohibited.


L-810 compliant solar lights must also meet the FAA guidelines for candela and autonomy. Some solar lights on the market will have a candela of 32.5 and state they can stay lit or last for 7 days. However, staying lit/lasting for 7 days is different than having autonomy for 7 days. Autonomy refers to how long the light will last if all solar charging is removed – this ensures that if a solar light encounters 5-days of overcast, on days 6 and 7 it will still shine at 32.5 candela. The goal is for light output to remain consistent if it encounters days when the system will store little to no power (FAA EB 76).

Let’s take a look at candela. To meet FAA standards, L-810 lights must have a minimum intensity of 32.5 candela (cd), and that the minimum vertical beam spread must be 10 degrees and the center of the vertical beam spread between +4 and +20 degrees (FAA AC 150/5345-43G). Temporary lights must also sustain autonomy for 7-days at 32.5 cd.

Let’s recap. To comply with 2016 FAA standards during wind turbine construction, your company must:

1. Light wind turbines once they reach 200ft during construction. (submitting a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to justify not lighting the turbine is prohibited)

2. Use a FAA L-810 compliant lights with a minimum intensity of 32.5 candela (cd)

3. Ensure temporary solar lighting systems have 7 days of autonomy at 32.5 cd


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