|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1801 To 2400|
|Locale Reference||airport : det|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 700|
agl bound upper : 700
|Controlling Facilities||tower : det|
|Make Model Name||Helicopter|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 91|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
|Function||flight crew : captain|
oversight : pic
|Qualification||pilot : instrument|
pilot : commercial
pilot : cfi
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 60|
flight time total : 6300
flight time type : 5000
|Function||flight crew : first officer|
|Qualification||pilot : instrument|
pilot : commercial
|Anomaly||other anomaly other|
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
Inadequately lit tower on roof of detroit board of education building. Formerly lit with several red fixed lights very useful to the low altitude helicopter traffic common in area. Now lit with 1 only pulsing white light which only gets lost in the ground clutter, and appears to be only a surface light behind trees, etc. Compounding this is the recent erection of a much taller tower 1/4 mi south, with very nice multiple red and white strobes visible many mi away. Itinerant medivac or media pilots can easily miss the lower tower visually when approaching any of 3 hospitals nearby. The board of education light is only distinguishable as an obstruction when very nearby when the silhouette of the structure becomes visible anyway. I have information that the board of education wishes to keep their tower 'inconspicuous' for some reason of their own. I have been flying helicopters here since 1973 and consider this to be a remediable and urgent problem. We often fly police missions nearby as this is a high crime area, and this tower is a definite hazard. Callback conversation with reporter revealed the following information: reporter states his helicopter is an aerospatial/american eurocopter model 350B. Reporter cannot understand how the FAA would allow the lighting to be taken off of the tower in question. It is placed on top of the board of education building which is virtually a landmark in city. The person who owned the tower and erected it on the building was evicted from the building. He built the new tower from the ground level and it is higher than the original tower. The lighting on the tower was originally red, and was replaced by the pulsating white light. This is not like a normal strobe, it is a pulsating lamp which blends in with ambient lighting in the area. This is especially true at night in a hazy condition when it is virtually not visible. Reporter emphasized that helicopters are low and see a different perspective than fixed wing aircraft would see. The lights do not stand out from the terrain as much. The new tower lighting is so obvious that one can get locked onto the bright tall tower and could easily fly right into the small tower which is only a couple of tenths of a mi away. Reporter states his police helicopters have had to give advice to medivac helicopters so they can avoid the tower while trying to locate the hospital helipads which are in the same area. Reporter and his fellow police helicopter pilots would like to see a 'real' strobe and 2 red lights at least replaced on the tower. A single light does not do the job in a congested area.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: POLICE HELI PLT RPTS POOR LIGHTING ON TWR IN DOWNTOWN DETROIT. LIGHT WAS CHANGED FROM RED TO A POOR STROBE.
Narrative: INADEQUATELY LIT TWR ON ROOF OF DETROIT BOARD OF EDUCATION BUILDING. FORMERLY LIT WITH SEVERAL RED FIXED LIGHTS VERY USEFUL TO THE LOW ALT HELI TFC COMMON IN AREA. NOW LIT WITH 1 ONLY PULSING WHITE LIGHT WHICH ONLY GETS LOST IN THE GND CLUTTER, AND APPEARS TO BE ONLY A SURFACE LIGHT BEHIND TREES, ETC. COMPOUNDING THIS IS THE RECENT ERECTION OF A MUCH TALLER TWR 1/4 MI S, WITH VERY NICE MULTIPLE RED AND WHITE STROBES VISIBLE MANY MI AWAY. ITINERANT MEDIVAC OR MEDIA PLTS CAN EASILY MISS THE LOWER TWR VISUALLY WHEN APCHING ANY OF 3 HOSPITALS NEARBY. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION LIGHT IS ONLY DISTINGUISHABLE AS AN OBSTRUCTION WHEN VERY NEARBY WHEN THE SILHOUETTE OF THE STRUCTURE BECOMES VISIBLE ANYWAY. I HAVE INFO THAT THE BOARD OF EDUCATION WISHES TO KEEP THEIR TWR 'INCONSPICUOUS' FOR SOME REASON OF THEIR OWN. I HAVE BEEN FLYING HELIS HERE SINCE 1973 AND CONSIDER THIS TO BE A REMEDIABLE AND URGENT PROB. WE OFTEN FLY POLICE MISSIONS NEARBY AS THIS IS A HIGH CRIME AREA, AND THIS TWR IS A DEFINITE HAZARD. CALLBACK CONVERSATION WITH RPTR REVEALED THE FOLLOWING INFO: RPTR STATES HIS HELI IS AN AEROSPATIAL/AMERICAN EUROCOPTER MODEL 350B. RPTR CANNOT UNDERSTAND HOW THE FAA WOULD ALLOW THE LIGHTING TO BE TAKEN OFF OF THE TWR IN QUESTION. IT IS PLACED ON TOP OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION BUILDING WHICH IS VIRTUALLY A LANDMARK IN CITY. THE PERSON WHO OWNED THE TWR AND ERECTED IT ON THE BUILDING WAS EVICTED FROM THE BUILDING. HE BUILT THE NEW TWR FROM THE GND LEVEL AND IT IS HIGHER THAN THE ORIGINAL TWR. THE LIGHTING ON THE TWR WAS ORIGINALLY RED, AND WAS REPLACED BY THE PULSATING WHITE LIGHT. THIS IS NOT LIKE A NORMAL STROBE, IT IS A PULSATING LAMP WHICH BLENDS IN WITH AMBIENT LIGHTING IN THE AREA. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE AT NIGHT IN A HAZY CONDITION WHEN IT IS VIRTUALLY NOT VISIBLE. RPTR EMPHASIZED THAT HELIS ARE LOW AND SEE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE THAN FIXED WING ACFT WOULD SEE. THE LIGHTS DO NOT STAND OUT FROM THE TERRAIN AS MUCH. THE NEW TWR LIGHTING IS SO OBVIOUS THAT ONE CAN GET LOCKED ONTO THE BRIGHT TALL TWR AND COULD EASILY FLY RIGHT INTO THE SMALL TWR WHICH IS ONLY A COUPLE OF TENTHS OF A MI AWAY. RPTR STATES HIS POLICE HELIS HAVE HAD TO GIVE ADVICE TO MEDIVAC HELIS SO THEY CAN AVOID THE TWR WHILE TRYING TO LOCATE THE HOSPITAL HELIPADS WHICH ARE IN THE SAME AREA. RPTR AND HIS FELLOW POLICE HELI PLTS WOULD LIKE TO SEE A 'REAL' STROBE AND 2 RED LIGHTS AT LEAST REPLACED ON THE TWR. A SINGLE LIGHT DOES NOT DO THE JOB IN A CONGESTED AREA.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.