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15 February 2024

Austria: Night-time marking of wind turbines

The Austrian Federal Government plans to amend the Austrian Aviation Act (Luftfahrtgesetz; LFG) to allow for on-demand night-time marking of aviation obstacles, such as the beaconing of wind turbines.[1] This is intended to reduce light emissions, especially at night.

1. General

Aviation obstacles may generally only be erected with an exemption permit from the aviation authority.[2] Additionally, aviation obstacles above a certain height must currently be marked with continuously red flashing lights due to international agreements (Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation; ICAO Manuals) and national regulations (LFG) to maintain aviation safety. This continuous red flashing, even at night-time, is now set to be a thing of the past.

2. Changes to obstacle lighting

On 12 July 2021, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) first allowed for obstacle lighting to be equipped with on-demand control.[3] The Federal Republic of Germany, for instance, took advantage of this by legally requiring wind turbines to be equipped with on-demand night-time marking since 1 January 2024.[4]

With the planned introduction of Section 123a LFG, Austria will also have the option to activate obstacle lighting for aviation obstacles that require night marking for the protection of air traffic participants (e.g., wind turbines) only when needed. The lights will turn on only when aircraft or helicopters are nearby and turn off once the aircraft has passed.

The new Section 123a LFG will mainly apply to wind turbines, which (outside of safety zones[5]) are considered aviation obstacles above a height of 100 meters. The introduction of on-demand control for night marking is particularly welcomed because the current continuous use of red flashing lights on wind turbines is regularly criticised by nearby residents and project opponents. On-demand control of red flashing lights on wind turbines can minimise light emissions at night and increase acceptance among the population and the tolerability for humans and animals.

3. Specific implementation

Unlike in Germany, where specific components of wind turbines must be installed for detecting flight movements, Austria envisions control by Austro Control GmbH.

Whether on-demand night marking is permissible for new installations in a specific case is to be determined by the competent aviation authority[6]. For already erected aviation obstacles, the authority shall determine upon request, by official decision (Bescheid), whether on-demand night marking of the aviation obstacle is permissible. In some wind turbines, continuous night marking may still be necessary in the interest of aviation safety.

4. Outlook

The responsible ministry (Bundesministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Energie und Mobilität; BMK) expects that the first wind turbines can be connected to the on-demand control system within a short time and without significant technical effort on-site.[7] However, it should be noted that a preceding procedure must be carried out with the aviation authority, and technical uncertainties still exist.[8]

The amendment to the LFG is expected to be adopted in March by the National Council and in early April by the Federal Council.


[1] Initiative proposal for amendment of the Austrian Aviation Act (Luftfahrtgesetz; LFG) IA 3872/A XXVII. GP

[2] As part of an EIA approval procedure, the Austrian Aviation Act (LFG) is also applied by the EIA authority and this exemption is granted with the EIA permit.

[3] Aerodrome Design Manual – Part 4 - Visual Aids (Doc 9157 – Part 4).

[4] Section 9 (8) of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz) - EEG 2017; amendment of the General Administrative Regulation on the Labelling of Aviation Obstacles (Allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift zur Kennzeichnung von Luftfahrthindernissen) - AVV Labelling Annex 6.

[5] For example the safety zone for Vienna Airport.

[6] Pursuant to Section 93 (2) Austrian Aviation Act (LFG), the provincial governor or the provincial government in an EIA authorisation procedure.

[7] Statement by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (Bundesministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Energie, Mobilität, Innovation und Technologie; BMK) dated 24 October 2023, GZ. 2023-0.767.870.

[8] See for example here (in German):

authors: Christoph Jirak, Valentin Dignös


Attorney at Law

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