tethers, airplanes, safety, & terrorism
SCIENCE + > TETHERS, AIRPLANES, SAFETY, & TERRORISM

Tethered Balloons Exist Now

A Flying Electric Generator (FEG) is a tethered device, and devices tethered at high altitudes would require careful placement, monitoring and inclusion in aeronautical navigation maps. Balloons tethered at altitudes up to 15,000 feet exist now at fifteen sites along the southern borders of the United States carrying radar equipment to detect illegal flights from the south trying to smuggle drugs. These are part of the Tethered Aerostat Radar System, which also provides the North American Aerospace Defense Command with low-level surveillance coverage in the Florida Straits. These tethered aerostats, are located within horizontally and vertically restricted air spaces that are shown on aeronautical charts used by pilots. Some time ago the FAA indicated that our planned demonstration should be in an already restricted airspace, and placed us in contact with military liaison officers. These officers suggested potential restricted airspace demonstration sites which Sky WindPower has investigated, and at which interest in participating has been expressed. Our calculations show that by reserving less than one four hundredth of U.S. air space, located at relatively remote locations not on airway routes, all its electrical energy needs could be met. Less than one four hundredth of U.S. airspace is a small fraction of the amount of airspace which civil aviation must currently avoid.

There is already so much authorized airspace used for various specific purposes that the FAA maintains a website updated daily for use by pilots showing airspace locations and altitudes as well as time periods in which airspace is restricted. Either the airspace must be avoided or the pilot must seek permission to enter it. For those interested, the site is:

http://sua.faa.gov

The need to become energy independent and to reducing global warming will also receive consideration for airspace use once altitude wind energy capture technology is shown to be capable of providing direct solutions to these issues.

Safety on the ground is a primary design consideration. Our FEGs are being designed to be just as reliable as commercial airliners, whose safety records are incredibly good. And FEGs will only be taking off or landing in uninhabited areas, not at airports.

With the safety measures being implemented, it is expected that our FEGs could be bought down without causing harm or damage to people or property in the event of a severed tether.

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