The Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) was interested in leasing a large parcel of airport owned land to a private developer for the construction and operation of a utility scale solar photovoltaic (PV) facility. The area under consideration was a 70 acre parcel of land near a runway end which is not available for other aeronautical or commercial uses. Before it could commence a bidding process, the IAA sought to answer concerns raised by the FAA about the potential impacts of visual impairment from solar reflectivity and disruption of radar navigation systems from the project.
HMMH was asked to conduct an analysis of the potential impacts of solar reflectivity and radar disruption using its experience with FAA policies and guidance provided in the HMMH co-authored report “Technical Guidance on Selected Solar Technologies at Airports.” HMMH prepared a qualitative analysis of these potential impacts based on the specific elements of the proposal and status of knowledge on the issues.
The analysis showed that based on the location of the solar facility relative to sensitive receptors including the air traffic control tower and departing and arriving aircraft that solar glare would not cause an impact. We also reviewed the location of the air surveillance radar, national weather service Doppler radar, the long range radar, and elements of the instrument landing system. We discussed the location of the solar facility relative to that infrastructure with the on-site FAA radar representative. Based on that information, we concluded that radar disruption impacts will not occur. The IAA provided our findings to the FAA and has proceeded with the bidding process to select a private partner for the project.