RAF’s Top Guns Call Wind Farms a ‘Disaster in the Making’ for Flyers

plane turbines

Flyers have even more to worry about these days ….

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There are at least 2 critical dangers for flyers created by these things:

1) air turbulence – generated by a sea of 50-60m blades with their outer tips travelling at around 350-400km/h – interfering with the ability of the pilot to control their kite (see our post here); and

2) slamming into them – with reasonably predictable results.

As to 1) here’s a report submitted in 2013 to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority by Ted McIntosh (a highly experienced agricultural pilot from NSW):

Date: 18-03-2013
Local time: 0730
State: NSW
Location: 9kms WNW of Gunning Wind Farm, Gunning NSW. Damage to aircraft: nil Most serious injury: nil
Summary:

Whilst on descent to my operating airstrip near Biala NSW, I suddenly experienced severe turbulence at about 500-600ft AGL. The wind at this time had been approx. 5-8 knots from the SE. After landing I ascertained that there was only a slight breeze at ground level. I suspected that the turbulence was caused by the wind turbines at the Gunning Wind Farm but was amazed that the effect could be felt 9kms away.

After the next take-off I confirmed that the turbulence was indeed caused by the turbines.

There are many fixed wing & helicopter aircraft which operate at or below 500 ft AGL legitimately from hundreds of airfields around Australia.

CASA & the Dept. of Infrastructure & Transport have released a study, the National Airports Safeguarding Framework Guidelines D (Wind Turbines) to protect major airports, but it should be apparent that the greater threat to air safety from wind turbine turbulence lies around country airports, both public & private, which threat CASA & the Dept of Infrastructure & Transport have glossed over or ignored.

For aircraft trying to stay aloft or take-off and land safely, weather related turbulence is an unseen menace that often strikes without warning. But it’s hard to envision turbulence being generated by turbines troubling a skilled flyer over 9 km away. So here’s a picture for the uninitiated:

horns_rev

A flyer’s nightmare …

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As to 2) here’s a tragic report from South Dakota, where a light plane slammed into a turbine in foggy conditions:

4 killed as Plane slams into Giant Fans in South Dakota

And here’s a picture of the culprit:

turbine-plane collision SD

Giant Fan: minus 1 blade ….

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For flyers, tangling with 160m turbines and their 50-60m blades has its own set of challenges, but near invisible 90m MET masts (that go up years before developers’ plans get lodged – and stay up if these things get built), may be fewer in number, but are just as deadly.

Ag Plane Crash Leads to $6.7 Million Wrongful Death Verdict
Flyingmag.com
25 September 2014

When Steve Allen, a highly respected Northern California ag pilot with 26,000 accident free hours, crashed his Rockwell S-2R into a whisper-thin, barely visible galvanized steel wind observation tower on January 11, 2011, a dark and sickening secret about personal greed and avarice was exposed for all the world to see.

The $6.7 million wrongful death settlement the aviator’s family was awarded this month will hopefully help ensure other similar tragedies won’t happen in the future.

The tower, measuring just inches under 200 feet, was hastily erected in 2009 by wind energy interests “prospecting” for the perfect site for a new wind farm in Contra Costa County east of San Francisco. The odd height of the tower is central to the case — any tower under 200 feet doesn’t need to be lighted or reported to the FAA. But because these towers can pop up almost anywhere and are nearly impossible to see in flight, they pose a special danger to aerial application aircraft.

Allen, 58, was spreading winter wheat for a local farm when he flew his single-engine turboprop into the unlit, unmarked tower. According to the National Transportation Safety Board accident report, the pilot was never told about its existence and never saw it.

The meteorological evaluation towers, known as METs and equipped with small anemometers, have been cropping up all across the country as investors seek to cash in on the wind energy craze. By keeping them just below 200 feet, wind farm entrepreneurs save the money, time and hassle of registering them with the FAA — while putting ag pilot’s lives at risk.

“No amount of money is ever going to compensate the Allen family for the loss of Mr. Allen,” said Roger Dreyer, the family’s lawyer. “He was an exceptional pilot, father and husband. We can only hope that those individuals in the wind industry, agricultural field and those who manufacture and install these MET towers understand that their failure to mark them adequately with lights and obstruction warning devices puts aviators, like Mr. Allen, at risk of losing their lives when there is absolutely no reason for taking that risk.”
Flyingmag.com

MET-tower

For flyers, it’s what you can’t see that’ll kill you.

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Now, it’s RAF Pilots in Britain who – thanks to thousands of these things – are literally dicing with death on a daily basis, as this report details.

Air disaster in the making: RAF pilots have almost 60 close-calls with wind farm
Sunday Express
Paula Murray
20 September 2015

RAF pilots flying over Britain have come close to mid-air disaster because of wind farms on almost 60 occasions in the past five years.

A “shocking” military dossier reveals a catalogue of potentially catastrophic air safety incidents, many of them related to unlit turbines and new or uncharted developments.

However, the Ministry of Defence withheld more information on national security grounds meaning the real number could be much higher.

Last night, campaigners called for an urgent review of the mapping and lighting of wind turbines to prevent a fatal crash involving a low-flying aircraft.

The 59 near-misses were classified from negligible to high in terms of severity with 15 cases – most of them from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray – in the high-risk category.

One Sea King helicopter captain revealed that search and rescue crews were having to manually update flight charts to keep pace with the renewables industry.

He said: “Occasionally up to a hundred amendments per cycle are required to be plotted and this must be repeated on up to a dozen copies of some charts.

“If a chart is used by the aircrew or becomes dog eared that chart must be replaced and the amendments re-done.

“On average, over a thousand hand plotted and written amendments are required per month, taking many hours of work.

“Cumulatively over a period of months or years the task becomes mindless, very onerous and extremely prone to error.”

One third of the reports were made by pilots or ground crew from Lossiemouth, which is often used for low-level training flights over the Scottish mountains.

A hazard report filed in September 2013 concerned an uncharted 300ft wind turbine, adding: “It is of particular concern as it is on the Inverurie Heli Lane into Aberdeen.”

It also noted that a single turbine marked on their charts had been “developed into a wind farm with over 10 turbines”.

Others relate to temporary anemometer masts, which are erected to measure wind speed. One Sea King report said: “Over the course of a 5 day detachment to Glencorse Barracks, Edinburgh, several unlit anemometer masts up to approx. 200ft were sighted… The masts were thin and difficult to see by day, and would have been near impossible to see at night being unlit.”

Last night, Scotland Against Spin spokeswoman Linda Holt said the catalogue of “shocking” incidents represented only the “tip of the iceberg”.

She added: “What about civilian aircraft, including private planes and helicopters, microlights and gliders? Aviation impact is yet another aspect of wind energy where public safety has been given short shrift.

“The problem of unmapped or unlit turbines and masts is the result of the subsidy-driven frenzy in speculative wind development since 2008.

“We know of a number of turbines and masts where aviation lights have not been fitted, or fail to function, despite being required by planning conditions. Taken together with inadequate mapping, it is only a matter of time before these unlit hazards cause fatal accidents.”

Ms Holt said ministers had to act now to prevent accidents and added: “This requires urgent action from the Energy Minister Fergus Ewing if he is not to have blood on his hands.

“He should order an immediate review of the mapping and lighting of all operational wind turbines in Scotland. A comprehensive inquiry into aviation incidents involving turbines and masts should also be undertaken with the aim of improving future planning and enforcement and reducing unnecessary risks to pilots and the public.”
Sunday Express

plane_new_crop_t607-665x385

… turbine minus 1 blade: South Dakota – minus 4 innocent lives.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Given that the bloody things are useless, it’s time we brought back hanging, for the causing of death in this way.
    Come to think of it, Germany is one of the most eager promoters. How about a trial in Nuremberg, to ascertain by how much and at what cost this massively EU backed monstrosity of a policy has held back CO2 emissions?

  2. Apologies at being a day late responding to your post, STT.

    This is the follow-up Sunday Express article which concentrates on the very real concerns of the Light Aircraft Association, and the work done by campaigner Christine Metcalfe, using Freedom of Information requests regarding aviation safety.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/609743/Pilots-warn-of-a-disaster-as-wind-farms-flourish

  3. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Millions is spent to prevent motor vehicle accidents at intersections, but they can’t spend anything to prevent an aerial disaster happening.

    These companies are able to install turbines and change their approved locations without a need to ensure the safety of pilots and anyone who happens to on the ground if an accident occurs. The companies have the freedom to do what they want without ever needing to ensure anyone’s safety.

    One day an accident will occur and the industry will twist and turn and try to place the blame elsewhere.

    Past experience indicates the industry and its supporters will say its the pilots fault because they listened to ‘anti-wind’ people who go around causing concern by saying turbines and masts are a hazard.

    But this is an important issue and the industry MUST be made accountable and so to must the authorities who approve the masts and turbines.

  4. This was my observations around the Gunning Wind Farm a while ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsA9pygImNs&feature=youtu.be

    Notice the twisting of the clouds down wind from the turbines. I don’t recall ever seeing anything like this anywhere else. Coincidence?

  5. RAF should use the turbines for target practice.

  6. Crispin Trist says:

    In an effort to perhaps better illustrate wake turbulence, I have included the link below.

    Whilst I appreciate that wind turbine blades are mostly in the vertical axis when operating, they are also variable in pitch to counteract strong winds. Aircraft wings are mostly in the horizontal axis. But you have to remember that most modern wind turbine blades have a longer span than the wings of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet! And there can be hundreds of turbines in a wind farm. What is the combined wake turbulence of these installations?

    • Christine Metcalfe says:

      Apologies Crispin! same comment as before but using correct name….

      You make an important observation and point, which is why there is now an FoI dialogue underway with the UK CAA asking for replies on this and other important factors. For all responses and copies of this to date you need to ask for CAA FoI request Reference: F0002371 from https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/caa

      Christine Metcalfe.

      • Crispin Trist says:

        Thank you for the reply Christine. A very interesting link. I shall study this.

        Here at Cape Bridgewater in Victoria, Australia, a wind developer is pushing to build a wind farm right under the flight path of the local airport (Portland) less than 3 klms from the runway threshold at Bridgewater Lakes. So any information like this is welcome. The airport is rated up to DC-9 standards.

        Unfortunately it appears that the family running the main airline service from the airport also has interests in wind. My contacts also tell me that there have been instances where GA pilots have already gotten lost in poor weather approaching Portland airport, and were terrified of crashing into one of the 29, 110m high wind turbines that are already up just to the south of the facility.

    • Christine Metcalfe says:

      Crispin, Have now heard back from the CAA that the website I gave was not the CAA’s site,so apologies for that. It is an independent website set up to make it easier for individuals to request information from public bodies. Only requests initially made through the whatdotheyknow.com website will appear there. The CAA do however publish responses on their disclosure log at http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=1357&gid=2985. It is in the process of being updated so the request does not appear there yet, but it should do so within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, keep an eye on the http://www.windsofjustice.org.uk website as the dialogue may well appear there before then.

  7. No Turbines says:

    Thank you Jim. See also comments by Mark McDonald (submission 223) in relation to the Mt Emerald project. Despite Ratch’s promises, no guarantee that ag spraying would not be affected was ever forthcoming. Ratch and Port Bajool tried to “buy” him by suggesting that if he withdrew his objections the company would provide funding for him to study how turbines affected agriculture. Just another bribe! The state has placed NO restrictions on the wind farm to address aerial spraying issues, despite 13,000ha of arable land within 5km of the site.

  8. Jim Hutson says:

    I refer to my Senate Wind Turbine Enquiry submission, which is a public document and also the Hansard of my attendance to the Senate enquiry held at Canberra. I also forwarded 23 attachments for the senators, which were confidential. Senator Canavan told me “he understood my frustration”.

    Briefly, documents held, stating from the Minister of Planning NSW, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority would not give us anything in writing, it was done on the telephone. When asked by the Senator to CASA official at the enquiry, has there been any correspondence in relation to the wind turbines at the Crookwell aerodrome, the answer was that there had been a lot of correspondence.

    Question to CASA official, has CASA visited the aerodrome, answer from CASA, not to my knowledge. I have correspondence forwarded to me by CASA stating that the Wind turbines do not present a safety hazard to aircraft using the Crookwell aerodrome. A major safety issue has been signed off by CASA and they have not visited the site.

    This has been going on for almost ten years. In the first instance CASA informed me when I gave them the plans for the turbine locations that “You will have an aerodrome or wind turbines, you cannot have both “Unfortunately CASA was shut down, AND WE NOW HAVE BOTH.

    The lawyers will have a field day with the NSW Government and CASA, when someone hits one of these things.

    Unfortunately when it comes to wind turbines nothing can stand in their way.

    • Right Jim, but a disaster is a real prospect without any direct turbine impact.

      Unseen turbulence from distant turbines, a low altitude stall and you have a fatal disaster in the making.

      Meanwhile CASA seems to believe it will be able to hide behind the “Sergeant Schultz” fig leaf.

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