I have observed that some areas have some power transmission towers painted in Red and white colors. But, more often, transmission towers are unpainted. An illustration of what I mean by this,

tower examples

Left: red and white tower, right 'regular' tower

If I am right, radio/cell-phone towers are usually painted red and white, but the example in this picture is clearly not a radio tower.

So, what is the significance of a transmission tower being painted in such colors?

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Is the red and white on located near an airport or some other location where it needs to be more visible? \$\endgroup\$
    – HandyHowie
    Jul 7, 2019 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Visibility. Alternating colours allow each section to be painted in one colour on the ground and give good visual contrast in varying lighting conditions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Jul 7, 2019 at 14:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HandyHowie This particular tower was located within a 10km radius of a major airport. However if I am not wrong I have come across such towers in remote locations where there was no airport nearby \$\endgroup\$
    – ijuneja
    Jul 7, 2019 at 14:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ It still needs to be extra visible if it's on a high landmark that planes might fly near, even if that isn't close to an airport. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Jul 7, 2019 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Never seen this in N. America but it must be to avoid some previous daytime accidents. Usually light beacons are used here. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 7, 2019 at 17:51

3 Answers 3


In the US, the FAA requires high-visibility markings on any tower that rises at least 200 feet above the "established terrain" (and near airports, the 200 foot requirement may be reduced). The ICAO sets similar requirements, so I'd expect roughly similar requirements in most other countries as well (though it wouldn't be surprising if some details vary).

Power transmission towers are typically around 180 feet tall, so this doesn't usually arise with them--but it can when (for example) the tower is at the top of a hill or ridge that's steep enough that the ridge itself contributes to the rise above the "established terrain". Some towers are also somewhat taller than others, and with the typical height at 180 feet or so, one doesn't have to be drastically taller than others to hit the FAA requirements--the difference in height may be small enough that it's not immediately apparent.


FAA Advisory Circular 70/7460-1L


Mounting FAA accepted strobe lights which operate 24/7 on a tower can remove the requirement to paint a tower. Painting a tower is very expensive.

See Para 3.7 in FAA Circular AC_70_7460-1L.pdf


The "red" is international orange. Usually the "red/white" towers are either high, or in a area that may have heavy air traffic, or be a certain type of tower, such as a microwave tower.


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