AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION
635 HERNDON PARKWAY - PO BOX 1168 - HERNDON, VA 20170 - 703-689-2270
July 23, 1997
Mr. Dave Hughes
Aviation Week & Space Technology
1200 G Street, Suite 922
Washington, DC 20005
Local officials assert that airliners will use existing El Toro Marine terminal-area flight paths. These military flight paths are low-traffic-capacity tracks, used mostly by high-performance military aircraft. A "world-class" international airport will not be possible with the existing arrival and departure flight paths, much less the present runway configuration.
An essentially new airport will have to be built on the present site. It appears that only a southeast/northwest parallel runway configuration offers any prospect of having standard all-weather approach operations during either good IFR or limited IFR (low-visibility) weather conditions.
The local officials are remiss in not having commissioned a comprehensive, expert study of future terminal instrument procedures (TERPs) approach and departure procedures. The present military approach procedures are limited to precision approach radar (PAR) to only the north runways, and don't meet FAA civil approach standards. Because of nearby mountains, it's virtually certain that safe and economically feasible instrument approach procedures cannot be developed for approaches from the north or the east.
FAA policy precludes the FAA's TERPs experts from doing the requisite expensive and exhaustive terrain/obstacle studies until it's certain that El Toro will become a civil airport. By then, it will be too late.
/s/ Tom Young
Tom Young, Chairman Charting and Instrument Procedures Committee
Air Line Pilots Association
"From an Southern California FAA air traffic management standpoint, if the prevailing flow were to land and takeoff to the northwest, the airport would have minimal impact on operations at Los Angeles and Ontario. That's what would really count to the traffic managers. Those airports cannot have any intrusions on their arrival airspace."
"The northwest departures would, for the most part, have to turn south and roughly duplicate the departure tracks from John Wayne during south operations. But, flights to San Franciso and north could be sent north towards Pomona for integration into the Ontario departure paths."
"The pilots do not oppose an airport at El Toro but ask that
it have two new parallel runways spaced at least 4,300 feet apart, and
aligned on an approximate 310/ 130 degrees magnetic bearing. (The existing
runways are aligned 340/160.) One of these runways should be at least 12,000
feet long if international operations are to be supported, especially at
a location that gets as hot as does El Toro."
"No matter how you slice it, John Wayne
would have to be effectively shut down for a major airport to work at El
Mr. Young and Mr. Roberts are nationally recognized experts in the field of aircraft instrument procedures. Both were quoted in an August 11, 1997, Wall Street Journal front-page article, “Final Approach, Landing Procedures Are Tied to Air Crashes”.
The Journal published the story shortly after the crash of a Korean
Airliner on final approach in Guam. The plane hit the ground three miles
short of the runway.
Click here for a letter to the County of Orange, by Captain Jon Russell, Western Pacific Regional Safety Chairman, on behalf of the Air Line Pilots Association. This earlier ALPA letter explains in detail why the El Toro runways need to be removed and realigned and why John Wayne Airport will have to be shut to commercial traffic if El Toro is built.
Realigning the runways would greatly increase the cost of airport construction. New flight paths would put commercial aircraft over parts of Tustin, Orange, Villa Park and Mission Viejo not impacted by military jets. Click here for a map of the area.