Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Problems. Topic S10-06. Investigating Safety Impacts of Energy Technologies on Airports and Aviation

As the federal government increases its support for alternative energy sources such as solar panel arrays, wind turbines, and power plants, the impact of these technologies on the operational safety of airports is coming under renewed scrutiny. Solar energy is one of the more affordable and adaptable alternative energy technologies. Despite its accepted use adjacent to airports, there are numerous misconceptions that continue to preclude its development at many GA airports. There are two potential safety concerns frequently expressed regarding solar panels. The first is glare reflecting off of the panels, the second is the proper placement of the panels. Solar panel placement practice at GA airports to avoid airfield hazards, to avoid land use compatibility conflicts, and to facilitate future airport expansion is needed. There is literature on the impacts of wind turbine height published in Federal Aviation Administration Regulation Part 77. Synthesizing existing information on the extent of radar interference occurrences between wind turbine farms and various types of air traffic control radar systems would help dispel concerns and promote interagency planning collaboration. States and local governments are seeing an increase in the number of applications to locate power plants adjacent to airports. Exhaust plumes have the potential to create in-flight hazards that affect the control and maneuverability of aircraft. However, the literature that supports efficient siting of newer technology plants near airports is not available in one location in a concise format for use by airport operators, aviation land use planners, and regulators. The objective of the synthesis project is compile existing research literature and current practice on how these developing energy technologies can and do coexist with safe operations at airports. The intended audience for the report is airport operators, planning managers, and regulators responsible for considering aviation safety while facilitating alternative energy production and developing energy technologies. The synthesis report would serve as a useful tool for those involved in locating power plants generating thermal plumes, wind turbines, or solar arrays in the vicinity of airports. The report would compile the effects of solar, wind turbine, and power plant siting on airports, and assemble reviewed literature and undertake survey or case study of appropriate, Federal and state aviation agencies and other relevant organizations in order to identify common practices. Of particular interest is practice related to reflective glare from solar panels, electromagnetic interference and turbine height, and exhaust plumes from power plants, which all have the potential to interfere with a pilot's operation of an aircraft, including general aviation aircraft.


    • English


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Federal Aviation Administration

      800 Independence Avenue, SW
      Washington, DC  United States  20591

      Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis

      Transportation Research Board
      500 Fifth Street, NW
      Washington, DC    20001
    • Start Date: 20100601
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • Source Data: RiP Project 24617

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01466190
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
    • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
    • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 3:12PM