Yes, there really is a tower in this photo.
In a major victory for agricultural aviation, the Minnesota legislature has passed a meteorological evaluation tower (MET) marking bill endorsed by the Minnesota Agricultural Aircraft Association (MAAA). The bill is headed to Governor Walz’s desk for his signature. The bill requires the following for all MET towers in Minnesota:
- The towers must be painted with equal-width bands of solid color over its entire width, alternating between aviation orange and white.
- At least two spherical markers must be attached to each of the highest or outside guy wires.
- Every guy wire must have a high visibility sleeve that extends at least seven feet.
- Have a flashing red light at the top of the tower that is compatible with night vision technology.
In addition to these MET tower requirements, the bill also requires that at least 30 days before erecting a MET tower, the owner of the tower must notify the commissioner of aeronautics of the tower and provide them with their name, contact information for tower representatives, the tower’s height above ground level, elevation of the tower site, and the GPS coordinates for the center of the tower. If any of that information for a tower changes, the owner must notify the commissioner of aeronautics within 15 days. If the tower is removed, the owner must provide notification within 30 days to the commissioner of aeronautics.
The commissioner of aeronautics must maintain records for all towers covered by the bill. Information for each tower must be provided on the department’s website so that the data can be used by GPS systems to denote the locations of MET towers on their maps. Existing towers have one year to comply with the regulations contained in the bill.
Many organizations were involved in bringing this victory to fruition. MAAA led the charge with assistance from Minnesota DOT Aeronautics Division, Sky Tractor, Insero Solutions and, as stated by MAAA, help from NAAA. The effort took 10 years to reach this accomplishment, but the safety these regulations will bring to agricultural aviators in Minnesota is worth the effort. NAAA congratulates MAAA. The FAA is still drafting a rule on tower marking and database logging requirements for METs and other rural towers 10 feet in diameter or less. The bill was enacted by Congress and signed into law in 2018. Non-MET towers would have the choice of either logging towers into a database or marking the tower. METs would be required to do both. The proposed rule is expected by year’s end.