Crashes involving airplanes and wind turbines rare

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ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - Federal data indicate that wind turbines are not a major cause of airplane crashes, a conclusion that doesn’t surprise a leading wind energy company.

A National Transportation Safety Board database lists only two crashes in which a plane struck a wind turbine - one in Palm Springs, California, in 2001, and one near the South Dakota town of Highmore in late April, the American News reported (http://bit.ly/S9ZP5C ). The South Dakota crash killed the pilot and three cattlemen returning from Texas.

In the California crash, an aircraft malfunction caused the pilot to lose control and strike a wind turbine, according to the NTSB’s final report. The agency’s final report on the South Dakota crash is not expected for at least eight months.

Steve Stengel, spokesman for NextEra Energy Inc., which operates 101 wind farms in 19 states and Canada, said the statistics bear out the fact that wind farms are safe for aviation.

“All these projects that are built - whether in South Dakota, North Dakota, California or Pennsylvania - they all go through a review and approval process to make sure they are safe and appropriate in the area they are placed in,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration also requires white warning lights on wind turbines during the day and red warning lights at night.

The crash of the single-engine piper in South Dakota last month happened in foggy conditions. The crash killed the pilot, Donald J. “D.J.” Fischer, 30, of Gettysburg; and cattlemen Brent Beitelspacher, 37, of Bowdle; Logan Rau, 25, of Java; and Nick Reimann, 33, of Ree Heights.

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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