Friday, October 23, 2015

Committee Recommends $100M In Improvements To McClellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ), Carlsbad, San Diego County, California

The Palomar Airport Advisory Committee recommended Thursday making $100 million worth of improvements to the McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad.

The changes are aimed at increasing safety for the larger planes that are now using it, which is mostly corporate jets.

Project manager Vince Hourigan estimated that cost would not include the cost of expanding the runway by 800 feet, though a runway expansion is part of the recommendation.

Chuck Collins is chair of the advisory committee. Committee members are appointed by 5th district County Supervisor Bill Horn. Collins said the recommendation includes two “engineered materials arresting systems” or EMAS, that provide a buffer for airplanes that overshoot the runway.

“Those things are very key to safe operations, a friendly airport and meeting demand expectations over the next 20 years,” he said.

Studies suggest the airport is already serving 6,000 operations from class C and D planes that are larger than the B class planes it is designed for.

Fewer than 100 people showed up to the meeting in Carlsbad City Hall. Of those who spoke, six people said maximizing the airport’s potential would benefit the region’s economy. Karl Morgan of the San Diego North Regional Economic Development Corporation is one of those who support the plan.

“This extension of this airport in North County has a huge impact on the growth of a lot of our key industry clusters in North County,” he said. “A lot of the companies that are here located in this area because of the airport.”

Five speakers objected, saying the plan would increase noise levels, benefit wealthy corporations rather than the public, and cost more than the FAA will be willing to subsidize.

Three airlines have tried to launch commercial flights to L.A. and Las Vegas, but none of them is currently operating out of Palomar.

The county has already spent more than $70 million on building a public terminal and parking lots, and corporations have spent more than $100 million on private terminals and hangers.

The recommendations next go before the County Supervisors, who are expected to vote in December.

If they approve the recommendations, an environmental impact report must be completed. Only then, perhaps in 2017, the county can ask the FAA for its approval and some funding.

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