Monday, July 12, 2010

Pilots' Group Opposes Bent Mountain Wind Farm

The largest pilots’ organization in Western Virginia, the IFR Pilots' Club, has registered concerns with the FAA over the proposal to place windmills on Poor Mountain.

“As a result of our review, we believe the proposed windmills present a potentially deadly hazard for pilots and passengers trying to land in the Roanoke Valley,” says Matthew Broughton (right), airline transport rated pilot and IFR president. Broughton also is a Roanoke aviation lawyer who holds a commercial transport pilot’s license.

Broughton says that the primary approach corridor to the Roanoke Regional Airport extends a few miles north and west of Poor Mountain. The placement of 15 or more windmills on the mountain would likely force the FAA to raise the minimum vectoring altitude of all aircraft, commercial or private, trying to land in Roanoke through this approach corridor.

“We believe that the windmills would create additional delays of aircraft trying to get into the Roanoke Valley during adverse weather,” says Broughton. “This is both a safety issue and travel inconvenience for those flying in and out of the Roanoke airport.”

According to Broughton, the Poor Mountain approach corridor leads to runway 6. It is the longest runway in Roanoke and it also has the lowest minimums, making it the runway controllers and pilots use most often in poor weather conditions.

“Unfortunately, Roanoke already has much higher minimums than our competing airports, such as Lynchburg and Greensboro,” says Gordon Ewald, a master flight instructor and member of the IFR Pilots’ Club. “The potential adverse affects of raising these minimums would hurt both pilots and passengers alike because it would reduce the days when aircraft could successfully and safely get below the clouds to land in Roanoke and force more deviations to other locations, such as Lynchburg and Greensboro.”

Broughton says that the IFR Pilots' Club is strongly opposed to any additional interference with the flyable airspace in or near the approach corridors, since the placement of these extremely tall structures could lead to aircraft accidents and endanger the lives of pilots, passengers and individuals on the ground.

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