AOPA is calling on the FAA to take “every available action” to stop an unapproved power-line construction project from creating obstruction hazards at Blake Field in Delta, Colo.
Pilots are encouraged to submit formal comments to the FAA, which at AOPA’s request has agreed to extend the comment period until Feb. 8 on the project that would place transmission line structures 52 feet above ground level approximately six-tenths of a nautical mile northwest of the airport.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the power company building the transmission line, moved ahead with construction while the project was under review for potential hazards to aviation, wrote AOPA Senior Director of Airspace and Modernization Heidi Williams in a Jan. 7 letter to the FAA. Williams pointed out that the structures could be a hazard to aircraft maneuvering under visual flight rules in the area, and also affect minima for a GPS approach that has been under discussion for the airport.
“In addition, AOPA is very concerned with the fact that the proponent has already begun building the structure that is under review—subsequent to the regulations that preclude such construction until a determination of no hazard is acquired. Specifically, the FAA appears to have been notified of the existence of this line on or slightly before November 1, 2010 despite the fact that Tri State actually began construction on August 1, 2010,” she said.
“We request that the FAA take every available action to preclude this proponent from completing the project until a full analysis has been completed and all necessary mitigation has taken place to prevent a safety hazard for surrounding airspace users,” she said in the formal comments.
The Delta County Board of Commissioners is also expected to discuss the power-line problem at an upcoming meeting. Approval to build was contingent on the power company obtaining all necessary approvals prior to construction.
Blake Field, elevation 5,193 feet above mean sea level, is one of the county’s two public airports.
Obstructions appear routinely in the National Airspace System—which is why the FAA has a process by which the public can weigh in before potentially hazardous tall structures are built near an airport. In this case, AOPA was alerted by Blake Field’s AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer, Scott Morse, who spent time researching the issue and notified AOPA and local pilots in efforts to ensure everyone had an opportunity to raise concerns. “Scott’s proactive efforts to make sure AOPA was aware of the local concerns and his efforts to gather all the facts of the case served as a true testament of the value of the Airport Support Network program,” said Williams.
AOPA has published an advocacy brief on the process of evaluating obstruction hazards, and encourages members to read it, and sign up to receive alerts from the FAA via the FAA’s OE/AAA website on proposed obstructions on or near your airport. Then keep your fellow pilots informed of the potential impact of proposed obstructions so that their voices can be heard during the evaluation process.
Pilots can send comments on the power line obstruction by Feb. 8, 2011 to Robert van Haastert, Specialist, Air Traffic Airspace Branch, Federal Aviation Administration, ASW-520 2601 Meacham Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76137-0520. Please refer to Aeronautical Study No. 2010-ANM-2391-OE.