Pilots’ Concerns Fly in the Face of AT&T Proposal

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The Pratt County Commission (Kansas) tabled a proposal by AT&T last week to erect a cell tower north of town after hearing from local pilots that the 260-foot structure would interfere with flight patterns. The commissioners voted to look into alternative sites and rescheduled the meeting for March 19, according to the Pratt Tribune.

Area pilots said the location falls within the downwind traffic pattern for landing to the south for runway 17 at the Pratt Regional Airport.

 AT&T spokesperson Glenda Cafer countered that the FAA reviewed the information and determined there was no hazard to the airport landing pattern. She said the minimum approach level height at the airport of 200 feet was raised by the FAA. Pilots expressed concerns that if the minimums were raised, it would restrict the type of aircraft using the airport and disagreed that the tower presented no hazard.  

Pratt Regional Airport Authority Board chairman Tim Barker, a pilot, said in landing a plane, seconds are precious at low altitudes, especially for an aircraft making a downwind approach. The tower, Barker said, just represents an additional hazard.

“To allow a tower at his point is harmful. The proximity to it [tower] is troublesome,” Barker told the Tribune. “The ability to get lower to the ground is critical. As a pilot, that location is a nightmare.”

AT&T would have to apply for a variance to the Zoning Board of Appeals if the Commission rejects their proposal. If the carrier can present an alternative location, they would have to reapply to the Zoning Board followed by a public hearing.

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