Safety impact of wind turbines in the vicinity of aerodromes and air routes

Report — Wind turbines

Executive Summary

Task definition

This report is the product of contract EASA.2019.CEI.14.EC021 on the assessment of safety impacts, including appropriate mitigation measures, of wind turbines in the vicinity of aerodromes and air routes and provide regulatory recommendations on the detection, lighting and marking of wind turbines.

Results and Conclusions

The study identified that the main risk related to wind turbines is related to low-level flights of under Visual Flight Rules. The Basic Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 and the Aerodrome Regulation (EU) 139/2014 provide various instruments intended to mitigate the risks from wind turbines from the aerodrome perspective. The study found that some of these regulatory mitigations can be improved, and the number of mitigation options can be increased.

The ADR regulation requires the safeguarding of aerodromes against the effects of wind turbines. Improvements can be made to provide supportive material on what safeguarding entails, how it should function or who is responsible for the safeguarding. The study identified that a wide variety on this process exists between Member States. In addition, in the absence of a clear regulatory framework, the Competent Authority of each Member State have deployed different solutions. This has resulted in a wide variety between Member States on how wind turbines are lighted and marked.

It is recommended that EASA embraces the safeguarding concept but strengthens it by defining in more detail the process, responsibilities and criteria for both the Competent Authority and the Aerodrome Operator. As wind turbines, due to their dynamic properties, cannot be considered as ‘traditional’ obstacles, a further development of the regulatory framework will be required. This would allow the attribution of additional safety margins to cater for densely populated area’s (wind farms) and downwind turbulence caused by wind turbines. A significant risk is formed by the obstacle data management process as it is the basis for a number or mitigations. Improvements, particular on the responsibility of the AO and interaction with other stakeholders in this process can be achieved.

The promotion of one-stop-shop principles for the application process should include an independent, and preferably proactive, assessment similar to how Eurocontrol mitigates the risk for radar interference from wind turbines. This report proposes a workflow for this process.

Embedding a risk-based concept in the regulatory development ensures that the framework better meets the operating environment, as examples suggest that the simple application of size-based criteria for wind turbine lighting and marking might be counterproductive in a complex operating environment. In other words: the cumulative risks from wind turbines are not only related to height. Defining the wind turbines lighting requirements on height criteria only might therefore not sufficiently mitigate the total risk. The existing certification standard however can be easily transformed in risk based criteria that will provide more flexibility for Member States to apply a lighting solution that matches the operational environment of the wind turbine(s).