Briefings offered on Montana wind turbine plan

November 18, 2010

AOPA is encouraging users of the Great Falls (Mont.) International Airport to contact officials for a briefing on proposed wind turbine construction at the airport.

The Montana Air National Guard is proposing to install one 133-foot-tall wind turbine, possible to be followed to as many as eight more, to comply with federal legislation requiring that not less than 7.5 percent of the electricity used by federal agencies come from renewable energy sources by fiscal year 2013.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer J.C. Kantorowicz is working to schedule a meeting for airport users to discuss the project with the Montana Air National Guard.

In studies, the FAA has identified three areas of concern ranging from ice hazards from the turbine blades to radar shadowing of the nearby National Weather Service radar site, and the potential impact of the towers on current and proposed instrument approaches. The Montana Air National Guard and its engineering consultants are evaluating the FAA’s concerns.

The proposed turbines do not penetrate any of the obstruction surfaces at the airport, and must be constructed on Montana Air National Guard leasehold property according to federal guidelines, said John L. Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy.

The airport’s administration has expressed concern with possible implications of turbines for a proposed approach to Runway 34.

Pilots seeking immediate information should contact Montana Air National Guard Deputy Base Civil Engineer First Lt. Kenneth Fechter, at 406/791-0516. Fechter has informed AOPA that he will be pleased to explain the Montana Air National Guard's project to pilots.

Users who wish to comment to the FAA about the possible impact of the turbines can contact Gary Gates, community planner, Airport District Office, Federal Aviation Administration, 2725 Skyway Drive, Suite 2, Helena, MT 59602, and the Great Falls International Airport Authority, 2800 Terminal Drive, Great Falls, MT 59404.