SDIA Terminal 1 expansion unnecessary at $3-4B price tag.

Updated: Dec 9, 2019


Currently, there are three studies underway related to SDIA, the Terminal 1 Expansion DEIR, the Part 150 Study, which is focused on changes to flight paths and other considerations that might decrease the number of people living in the 65 dB CNEL, and a Flight Procedures Study that was precipitated by 22 recommendations from the ANAC Subcommittee. The complete final Report for this work is at I will have further assessment of the results from that work in the near future, but suffice to say, that in general, nothing of any value as far as noise mitigation was accomplished. There are recommendations that would potentially benefit Mission Beach, but many were deferred to the Part 150 study. The main issue with the Part 150 is that even if a flight procedure change might benefit Mission Beach, it will not be considered unless it results in a decrease in the 65 dB CNEL, which is very unlikely.

Specifically to the DEIR assessment, there were 22 questions formulated from the report review and evaluation. These questions are currently being review by the Airport Authority consultant, who is motivated to always find the easiest solution or answer from the Airport Authority perspective. The graph below shows the Airport Authority consultant projection of the impact of a constrained Lindbergh Field on the number of annual enplanements. As you can see, the projection becomes near flat in 2015, but this is based on a number of very optimistic assumptions that were questioned in the response to the Airport Authority.

A couple of examples are:

1. Your assumption of 50 operations per hour for a 17-hour day seems very optimistic given the FAA assumes 48 for all weather conditions. How do you justify the higher number?

2. The constrained enplaned projection seems very optimistic at 2035 compared to the capacity projection in 2024. How do you justify this delay with a sudden flattening of the constrained enplanements, given that there is no evidence that aircraft size (number of passengers) and load factor will increase?


3. It appears that since capacity will be reached two years after Terminal One is completed. Further, the DEIR report shows a substantial increase in the delta number of enplanements between constrained and unconstrained after capacity is reached. And when this is factored into the 2018 Airport Authority financial benefits study to the San Diego region, it appears that losses could be anywhere from $2.5B to $5B in the five to ten years beyond 2024. Why then is the SDCRAA not first addressing the capacity issue before investing $3-4B to enhance the passenger experience at Terminal 1.

4. The plan is to add 11 new gates at terminal 1. The addition of these gates does not increase airport capacity, but could accelerate the airport reaching capacity for two years before it reaches capacity. There does not seem to be any rationale for including the new gates? What is the primary reason for adding the gates?

5. One concern is that the gates are being added as justification for moving the curfew from 6:30 am to 5 am. Which organization or government body makes the decision regarding the curfew start and stop times?

There are sections included that illustrate the disruption of sleep due directly to aircraft noise between 10 pm and 11:30 pm. Of greatest concern is the projected increase in number of people living in the 65 dB CNEL from 19,339 in 2018, to 34,276 in 2026. Given that the SDCRAA has made no effort to off-load operations to other local airports, this is an abomination. We can expect substantial increases in operations and noise in Mission Beach. Of greatest concern is that the Airport Authority will move all of the current nighttime noise abatement departures from 290 degrees, up the channel, to PADRZ which flies directly over Mission Beach.

Multiple ideas were submitted to reduce noise from PADRZ over SMB and or encourage more use of Stage 4 and 5 aircraft, however, the Airport Authority Noise Abatement Office consultants effectively bullied the members of the TAC and CAC and the general public into accepting the changes to avoid losing the current curfew. This really comes down to political will, and while Congressman Scott Peters has advanced legislation to address long term issues, he has not stepped into the help anyone except for the La Jolla constituents, which is where he lives.

The organization title, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is very confusing and misleading, as this organization only has purview over Lindbergh Field. So, the words County and Regional are wrong. Perhaps the title is associated with a one day wish. In any case, I believe it is the County that has authority over Palomar, Montgomery, and Brown Field. If a best solution includes these other airfields, SDCRAA is not going to look at them as part of the solution. It must be an agency, like SANDAG, which actually makes sense given this organization has authority over the the strategic planning for ground transport in the County. Would it not make sense for one agency to have all air and ground transport authority?

[1] There must be an explanation coming from the MB representative on the TAC regarding the failure of options that might benefit Mission Beach being eliminated or deferred to the Part 150. More to come on this issue.

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