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San Diego Cargo Airport - DOA

Sun Oct 08, 2000 12:12 pm

This from today's San Diego Union-Tribune. I told you so. DOA = Dead On Arrival.

FAA pans plan for Brown Field cargo facility
Problems cited in Brown Field plan

By Jennifer Vigil

October 7, 2000

Cargo flights generated by a renovated Brown Field would increase delays at Lindbergh Field and impact air traffic patterns throughout San Diego County, says a Federal Aviation Administration analysis of the controversial proposal.

The oft-delayed report, which has been awaited by city leaders and opponents of the project, says flights into and out of a busier Brown Field would "cause unique air traffic control complications, resulting in delays of various levels to all airports" in the region.

The San Diego Air Commerce Center, as the Brown Field proposal is known, also could affect airports across the country, which runs counter to an FAA goal of reducing delays in arrivals and departures.

"The proposed development of the San Diego Air Commerce Center at Brown Field does not contribute to this effort," the report concludes. "In fact, it works against it."

The FAA report, obtained Friday through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The San Diego Union-Tribune, provides more fodder for opponents of the proposal to turn the Otay Mesa airport into a $750 million cargo shipment center.

Criticism of the plan has mounted in recent months. The San Diego Planning Commission and the county Board of Supervisors have voted against it.

Both entities questioned the project's effects on the region's airspace and the financial projections offered by the developers, led by San Diego businessman Sandy Kahn.

Both votes were advisory. The San Diego City Council has the final say on use of the municipal airport, but has delayed considering the matter for months.

Larry Killeen, who is working with Kahn on the cargo project, said the issues the FAA report raises make it almost impossible for the developers to gain approval for the airport before a new council is seated.

"This pretty well shows that we're going to have to go back, talk to the FAA, and I think go forward next year," Killeen said.

Ric Grenell, Mayor Susan Golding's press secretary, said Golding had not reviewed the FAA report, adding that the city is not prepared to address the issue.

"There's nothing to docket at this point because the negotiations have not been completed," Grenell said.

The 4-year-old proposal has inspired a loud outcry in the South Bay from a coalition of municipal leaders, Navy officials, residents and home developers. They argue that turning a general-aviation airport into a larger facility would erode neighbors' quality of life and bring noise, auto traffic and safety hazards.

Critics of the project, who plan a noon rally at the developers' Palm Avenue job center today, exulted at news of the report.

"The FAA report confirms what common sense tells you would be a real problem when bringing that many flights into such a limited space," said Imperial Beach Mayor Diane Rose. "I believe this report shows that the Brown Field proposal is dead."

Project developers played down the report, calling it part of an ongoing evaluation of the potential impact of a cargo airport. They said they are scheduled to meet with the FAA next week.

"Hopefully, there are other ways of doing this," Killeen said. "I believe there are other options that need looking at."

A survey conducted in the spring by the proponents indicated the project had broad support in the city's eight council districts. But there has been little good news since.

In July, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors voted against the cargo plan, partly because of unresolved questions about airspace issues. The developers have long said those issues should not affect San Diego's decisions regarding land use.

But the FAA report, a regular part of the agency's airport evaluation process, offers nothing that would encourage the would-be developers.

A missed approach by a plane on one Brown Field runway would force at least one Lindbergh Field arrival out of its landing pattern, the report said. Based on weather patterns cited by the FAA, such missed approaches could occur during four months each year.

The effects could be even more inconvenient to the Navy. Ream Field in Imperial Beach, where the Navy has regular training exercises, would have to be closed more than 10 hours a day to accommodate Brown Field's unusual flight-pattern requirements, the report said.

Otay Mountain lies east of the airport, and freight-laden jumbo jets cannot clear it, forcing cargo flights to arrive and depart from the west. The arrangement could lead to 40 conflicts a day at Brown Field, according to the report.

Ground delays also could occur at North Island Naval Air Station and Tijuana International Airport, the report said, and Gillespie Field and Montgomery Field might have to suspend flight training during the periods of heaviest traffic.

The FAA looked at eight airports that lie within 20 miles of each other, and evaluated the cargo airport's effects at minimum capacity, handling 11 flights, and at maximum capacity, handling 103. has many forums. It has spell check and search functions. Use them before posting!

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