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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Solar Farm Growing Near Runway in Van Nuys

The first solar project at Van Nuys Airport is currently under construction at the Aerolease Group facility on the east side of the airfield. Chief Executive Curt Castagna said that the 4,000-panel project should be complete by the end of April. The panels are going on the top of three buildings and a carport at the campus of the aviation property development, management and consulting firm at Woodley Avenue and Daily Drive. “You cannot see the panels on the roof and the way we designed the infrastructure for all the conduit feeds to the transformers, it is almost invisible,” Castagna said in an interview with the Business Journal. The panels will cover about 150,000 square feet of roof space. Castagna said that roofs provided a flat surface that was perfect for the lightweight solar panels to clamp onto. The reasoning behind the solar project was twofold. One is that it can help Los Angeles World Airports, or LAWA, the operator of the airport, meet goals to reduce its carbon footprint. Second, it becomes a revenue source for the company, Castagna said. “We are using the solar to eliminate our use of the grid and at the same time sell power back to the grid,” he added. The Van Nuys project will be just the first for Aerolease. The company is in talks with other airports at which it has property to do similar projects, Castagna said. Other aviation companies at Van Nuys are contemplating going solar. Western Jet Aviation, an independent Gulfstream aircraft maintenance station, is moving forward with such a project, Castagna said. PCS Energy, the solar installation and management firm that Aerolease worked with, is talking with other companies, he added. Control Tower The refurbishment of the air traffic control tower at Van Nuys Airport was completed early this year, a $4 million project that modernized its systems. The tower, located on the west side of the airfield, was essentially stripped to the shell and rebuilt, said Ian Gregor, communications director for the Pacific region of the Federal Aviation Administration, in an email to the Business Journal. “All the equipment was put on slat walls,” Gregor wrote. “(That) allows the equipment to be moved easily, without ruining the consoles.” “In a more efficient operation, controllers can do their jobs more quickly while maintaining the highest possible levels of safety,” Gregor continued in the email. New equipment installed in the tower include digital touch screens for radio communications; digital touch screens to display wind speed and direction, ambient temperature, dew point and barometric pressure; and a third radar display that shows the location of aircraft in the skies around the airport, Gregor said. While the control tower was being renovated, the controllers worked out of a temporary tower made of shipping containers. The temporary tower was designed to replicate as closely as possible the work environment of the permanent tower and used the same displays, radios and other equipment. Rocket Fire Aerojet Rocketdyne did another test in February of the RS-25 main engine that will be used on the Space Launch System, the new heavy-lift rocket NASA has under development to power future manned missions to the moon and possibly to Mars. The Feb. 21 test at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi put the engine to its highest thrust levels yet, achieving 113 percent of its original thrust level during the 260-second hot fire test. Aerojet Rocketdyne makes the RS-25 engine at its Chatsworth campus. It is a modified version of the engines used on the space shuttle. There are 16 engines remaining from the space shuttle program that will be used on the first four flights of the Space Launch System. The first unmanned launch is scheduled for 2020. Increased thrust requirements for the RS-25 are one of a number of changes that will help meet deep space exploration goals and objectives, said Dan Adamski, RS-25 program director at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “While we can analytically calculate engine performance and structural capabilities at these higher power levels, actually demonstrating that performance with an engine hot fire provides the added confidence that these engines will meet all specification requirements,” Adamski said in a prepared statement. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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