On October 11, 1996, the Air Line Pilots Association, (ALPA), the nation's largest commercial pilots union, wrote to the County of Orange as follows:
It does not matter what the Orange County Board of Supervisors, or the Orange County residents, or the FAA , or the airlines think about the takeoff and landing patterns of El Toro airport The takeoff and landing patterns of all airports are determined by wind direction and terrain(obstacles). The terrain and wind direction at El Toro require that the primary takeoff runway be away from the mountains and over highly populated areas.
Since the wind direction is out of the West about 99% of the time, the safest takeoff runway required by the terrain and wind direction is runway 25 to the West, departing over Irvine and Newport Beach, or Runway 34 to the Northwest over Irvine,Tustin,Orange,and Fullerton. Runway 16 over Laguna Hills, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, and Dana Point would be the safest runway under certain wind conditions.
I have spoken with the FAA representative who would have to approve the airport plan and he has told me privately that runway 7 would not be a viable runway. As usual being a government employee, he could not comment publicly because he has not had the plan submitted to him officially. We agreed that Runway 7 could never be the safest runway, and that the FAA requires the pilot in command to use the safest runway available for departure and landing, and to do otherwise would be a violation of the pilotís responsibility for the safety of our passengers. It is an indisputable fact that runway 7, taking off to the East, could never be the safest runway for takeoff and would always be the least safe runway for takeoff.
Proponents argue that if the FAA approves runway 7 for takeoffs, that it could be mandated the primary runway. When in fact no one has the authority to override the pilot in commandís decision to use the safest runway for takeoff or landing. If anyone thinks they have that authority, I request that they contact me as soon as possible.
In order to optimize safety and traffic volume, one would have to build two parallel runways in a north northwest direction of about 300 degrees., paralleling both the I-5 freeway and the mountains. That would also maximize the noise impact.
The residents of Orange County voted for the plan that was included in the Environmental Impact Report that was produced for the county. This plan called for 70% of departures to the East on runway 7, and 30% of departures on runway 34 to the Northwest. It is the unanimous decision of the Allied Pilots Association, and the Air Line Pilots Association, representing all the pilots of all the major airlines in the United States, that it is unsafe to fly the departure and landing routes as proposed by the EIR.and voted upon by the residents of Orange County, California..
/s/ Captain Stan Sanders,
Allied Pilots Association Safety Committee
cc: Courtney Wiercioch, Assistant CEO Orange County
Click here for March 9, 1998 letter from the President of the Allied Pilots Association to Chairman Silva of the Board of Supervisors
Return to summary of comments by other commercial pilots.