Wind farm could be hazard to VFR flights

February 23, 2012

AOPA is urging the FAA to find that 130 wind turbines proposed for Nantucket Sound near Cotuit, Mass., would pose a hazard to the many low-altitude VFR flights between three area airports. The turbines could also disrupt local radar service, AOPA said.

AOPA reiterated its position on the proposed Cape Wind turbine project during a public comment period the FAA has opened as part of a new aeronautical study of the turbines. The FAA began its re-examination of the proposal following an Oct. 28, 2011, federal court decision in a suit brought by the town of Barnstable, Mass., that required the agency to address concerns about the structures even though the proposed turbines do not exceed Part 77 obstruction standards.

Members may comment on the proposed wind turbines until March 17 in accordance with this notice.

In comments filed Feb. 21, AOPA opposed the proposed location and height of the wind turbines, pointing out that the FAA has not addressed the turbines’ potential impact on VFR operations between Barnstable Municipal Airport, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Memorial Airport. Many low-altitude VFR flights are conducted in the area, which is subject to low ceilings and marginal visibility, in particular during the busy summer months.

The turbines, which would be positioned across 35 square miles of Nantucket Sound, could also have a number of adverse effects on radar service in the area, including clutter below 1,000 feet. AOPA also submitted comments during the previous study, which was conducted in 2009.

Members may submit comments to the FAA by March 17 about how the proposed obstructions would impact their flights. Mail comments to: Mail Processing Center, Federal Aviation Administration, Southwest Regional Office Obstruction Evaluation Group, 2601 Meacham Boulevard Fort Worth, TX 76137. Please also share your comments with AOPA.