Windfarm may alter flight path

Pilots flying in and out of Wellington may be forced to change course with the construction of a new windfarm.

The construction of 62 turbines from Makara Beach to Cape Terawhiti, west of Wellington, is due to begin next month.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) magazine Vector said the wind farm would require airspace changes within Wellington's "control zone" but the changes would not appear on Visual Navigation Charts (VNC) until November when updated charts were printed.

The Makara windfarm is one of four significant windfarms being constructed around the country over the next two years.

The largest will have 131 turbines and the highest will tower above 152.4m

CAA spokeswoman Emma Peel said today between February and November pilots flying in and out of Wellington would be notified of the Makara turbines by a short term message system called Notam (Notices to Airman).

"Before they go on a flight they look at the area they want to fly to or through and they look at all the Notams for that area," she said.

Ms Peel said objects more than 121.9m high, close to an aerodrome or within a low flying zone had to be marked on VNCs.

The turbines at Makara would be 109.5m tall but low level flying restriction mitigated any risk, she said.

"Any obstruction of the airspace can be a hazard so anything that sticks up, like a tall radio tower, can be a hazard. That's why there's restrictions about how low aircraft can fly."

Aircraft flying over rural land could not fly below 152.4m - over a built up area that height restriction doubled.

Turbulence was also unlikely, she said.

`By the time you're at that height above the wind turbine any effect, if there was an effect, it would have dissipated," she said.

"There's always an awareness in the monitoring of anything that's going to point out into the airspace but I don't think there are concerns in regards to this windfarm."

 

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