Turbine project would obstruct approach to Ohio airport

October 22, 2009

A proposed wind farm within two miles of two public-use Ohio airports would pose a hazard for inbound pilots, AOPA told the Ohio Power Siting Board Oct. 13. The Ohio state aviation office also has advised the Ohio Siting Board against allowing this project to proceed. The board will review the proposal in a public hearing Oct. 28.

The FAA ruled in September that 38 of the 70 turbines in the proposed Buckeye Wind project near Grimes Field Airport and Weller Airport in Urbana, Ohio, would have an adverse effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Nino Vitale has been working with AOPA and his state and local officials to oppose this project, which would obstruct an instrument approach and leave pilots with fewer landing options in bad weather.

“By placing obstructions so close to airports, the Buckeye Wind project would raise an instrument approach 300 feet and introduce a hazard to the airspace,” said AOPA Airport Support Network Director Jesse Romo. “While AOPA appreciates the need to develop alternative energy sources, we believe it is important to ensure that any new construction near airports does not come at the expense of safety.”

The Ohio Siting Board will make final determination on whether the turbines can be erected. Romo told the siting board in a letter that the turbines would raise the minimums of the VOR-A approach into Grimes Field, eliminating or significantly degrading the usefulness of the approach. The proposed turbines would leave pilots with no option but to divert to an alternate airport in bad weather, Romo wrote.

The Buckeye Wind turbines also would affect the nearby privately owned, public-use airport Weller and another privately owned airport. “The construction of so many obstructions in such a confined area would adversely affect the safety of the navigable airspace and may cause the closure of one or more airports,” Romo continued.

Romo recommended that the Ohio Siting Board consider the impacts of the proposed project on flight operations before it issues a final determination and urged the board to deny the application because of the hazards the project would present.