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Tue, Jan 31, 2012

FAA Accused Of Fast-Tracking Wind Farm

Former Agency Employee Urges Zoning Board To File Suit

The FAA has cleared development of a 64-turbine wind farm west of Pratt Regional Airport in Kansas. But the Pratt County Zoning Board is left scratching its collective head after a former FAA employee who's also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and expert witness in 60 lawsuits says the FAA screwed up, and building the wind farm could leave the county liable for aviation accidents.

The Pratt Tribune reports that on Monday evening, Don Hensley of Safe Sky, LLC told the board that the the FAA didn't follow its own procedures in approving the project, (file photo shown) which he says will put 23 of the 64 turbines unacceptably close to flight paths. From  procedural standpoint, Hensley says procedure should have required review by the airport board and the community as a whole. He adds the agency should have supplied an analysis of evidence the turbines could interfere with VFR and IFR flight, and even misinterpreted its own regulations regarding response to a petition against the project submitted by pilots.

Hensley concluded that unless the zoning board stops the project, the landowners, developer, and county could be found liable in an accident. A county attorney disagreed, saying as long as the board acts reasonably, the county should be off the hook.

Hensley blamed FAA office consolidation for a rushed process, and told the zoning board it should take the FAA to court.

FMI: www.faa.gov ; www.safeskyllc.com/don_hensley.htm

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