The UK's Newcastle airport has found a solution for surveillance problems created by radar reflections from wind turbines.
A software application is being used to "blank" the wind farm reflections, which have the same characteristics as moving aircraft returns and can thus be dangerously misleading for controllers.
This is a particular problem for Newcastle because north-east England has a successful wind energy industry that has the potential to expand, according to airport management.
"In the past, the airport has had no alternative but to object to [wind farm] schemes where an unacceptable impact was predicted. The radar blanking mitigation is a software update applied to the radar system which effectively places a 'patch' to cover the potential wind farm sites. This can prevent the turbines appearing, so they cannot be mistaken for moving aircraft," the airport says.
Newcastle, which runs its air traffic control entirely in-house, has developed this solution working with the UK Civil Aviation Authority, but admits there will be a limit to the number of possible radar blanking areas.
The airport says: "Given its finite nature, the radar blanking strategy is therefore seen as short-term mitigation. The CAA and others throughout the industry have made, and continue to make, a concerted effort to explore a long-term solution to this issue, yet none of the emerging technologies have been proven yet.
"Newcastle airport, alongside other stakeholders, is open and committed to exploring all alternatives which might emerge to find lasting solutions that will allow for further development of wind farm schemes in the north-east."