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Program warns of tower, airspace conflicts  

Credit:  By The Capital-Journal, cjonline.com 17 February 2011 ~~

A software application that will alert developers of tall structures to their effect on Kansas airspace will get its “soft launch” Friday at Eudora High School.

Developers of the Airspace Awareness Tool, a program that ultimately will be available through the website of the Kansas Department of Transportation, will introduce the program to students who are studying wind turbine development and, indirectly, their effect on Kansas airfields.

The first demonstration of the program is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Friday at the school, which is in close proximity to an airfield and has hopes of developing a wind turbine for educational research.

When fully implemented, the program is designed to let a developer input the latitude and longitude of a tall structure – such as a wind turbine – and visually see how it affects airspace in the structure’s vicinity. Proposed towers could be drawn onto the application to visualize their impact.

“There were more than 2,000 airspace analyses in Kansas last year and most of those requests involved wind turbines,” said C. Edward Young, KDOT’s director of aviation. “A number of those cases resulted in conflicts with local air space and instrument landing approaches.

“One of the goals of the tool is to help developers of tall structures such as wind turbines visualize complicated airspace and, consequently, avoid unsafe conflicts between aircraft and obstructions. If there is a potential conflict, the system will alert the user to contact the FAA.”

Kansas has 141 public-use airports, Young noted, used for everything from commercial travel to crop dusting and air ambulance services. Each airport has corresponding air space that reaches out at graduated levels.

The Airspace Awareness Tool is believed to be the first such program developed in the nation. Funded by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and developed over the past 1 1/2 years with Burns and McDonnell, a Kansas City consulting firm, the program’s developers hope to gain input from its soft launch, then making refinements leading up to its full implementation sometime in the next several months.

At Eudora High School, the school’s Future Business Leaders of America are pursuing the placement of a wind turbine as a club goal of reducing the carbon and financial footprint of the school.

“This is a perfect opportunity to evaluate the ease of use of the tool,” Young said.

Source:  By The Capital-Journal, cjonline.com 17 February 2011

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