Airport Planning

Raul M. Rojas, Director, Public Works

Gnoss Field Vision Process

The Marin County Board of Supervisors called for an update to the future vision for the Marin County Airport, Gnoss Field. The planning documents for the airport date back to 1989 with an update in 1997. As assumptions and economic conditions have changed, so too has the growth and management of Gnoss Field.

The Gnoss Field Vision Process seeks to bring concepts and ideas from airport users and the community to the Aviation Commission. The Gnoss Field Visioning Report will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on November 4, 2014.

Gnoss Field Vision Workshop

When: Thursday, July 17, 2014, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Where: Novato City Council Chambers, 901 Sherman Avenue, Novato, CA

The Marin County Aviation Commission hosted a community workshop to present background information, discuss opportunities, and solicit input on the Gnoss Field airport, Marin County's only public airport. Participants found out about the airport, its operations and future plans, and provided their input. The workshop featured a presentation and then three separate stations where more detailed information was discussed and public comments and suggestions were captured. The stations covered current airport operations, the runway extension project, and the capital plan for future improvements.

Workshop comments and ideas were captured for a summary report to be presented to the Board of Supervisors through the Aviation Commission. Although the workshop report will be used to inform the Board and county staff, there is no pending action as a result of this workshop nor is this workshop associated with any environmental review.

For more information, contact Dan Dawson at (415) 473-6287.

Airport Planning Process

Developments on any airport in California involve processes dictated by both California and Federal laws. Environmental reviews are required at both levels. Project reviews and plans are required by the Marin County Board of Supervisors, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the California Department of Aeronautics. Compatible land use developments around an airport are regulated by the Marin County Airport Land Use Commission.

FAA National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) includes Marin County Airport, Gnoss Field, in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) as significant to national air transportation and therefore eligible to receive grants from the FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Gnoss Field appears as a Reliever airport, a high-capacity general aviation airport that serves pilots as an alternate to using congested commercial-service airports in the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose metropolitan area. Furthermore, the 2013-2017 report to Congress lists Gnoss Field as eligible for $14,817,527 in AIP grants for development costs.

Airport Master Plan

To maintain eligibility to receive FAA grants, Marin County Board of Supervisors adopted an Airport Master Plan (195 pages) in 1989 with an update in 1997. The Gnoss Field Airport Master Plan contains four key objectives: to guide the operation and development of the airport, to ensure environmental compatibility, to maintain a compatible zoning and land use plan, and to maintain eligibility for federal and state grants to develop the airport. The Airport Master Plan includes an inventory of current airport facilities, an aviation demand forecast, planned development alternatives, and financial evaluation.

The 1989 plan assumed that general aviation activity would increase because of the closure of both Hamilton Field and Smith Ranch Airport. In 1997, that increase had not happened and a revised set of development alternatives were adopted to extend the runway, to develop a cross wind runway, and expand aircraft parking (see Appendix K, pages 189-195 in the PDF file).

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Airport Layout Plan

As development on the airport occurs, the County must maintain an Airport Layout Plan (ALP) approved by the FAA. An ALP serves as an engineering drawing with both current and future facilities, runways and taxiways. These plans are updated as projects are proposed and implemented. An updated ALP must be submitted and approved by the FAA prior to submitting a grant proposal to design and construct airport projects. As FAA standards for airport facilities evolve, the ALP must also be updated to the latest safety specifications, such as recent increases in runway safety areas and obstacle free zones. The Airport Master Plan of 1989 contains three ALPs with successive development stages, but those have been superseded by the current ALP prepared in 2006.

Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan

The California State Aeronautics Act requires Marin County to protect the development and operation of Gnoss Field through compatible zoning and land use around the airport. The Board of Supervisors, through the Airport Land Use Commission, adopted the Airport Land Use Plan (137 pages) of 1991. The policies adopted protect the airspace around the airport, improve aviation safety, address aviation noise compatibility, and ensure compatibility of airport environs land use.

FAA Airport/Facility Directory

Pilots and operators of aircraft that use Gnoss Field are expected to consult all necessary information about the airport. One source is the FAA Airport/Facility Directory, excerpted here for Gnoss Field. The cryptic information uses acronyms and codes to compress many details in a small space. The runway information includes limits on the strength of the asphalt pavement (S-26 means single wheel landing gear with aircraft gross weight no greater than 26,000 pounds), the steeper than normal glideslope approach angles (3.5 and 4.0 degrees, which are greater than the normal 3.0 degrees) and obstacles near the runway ends (trees and hills). Also, the remarks section includes elements of the Gnoss Field noise abatement procedures.

NOVATO

GNOSS FLD (DVO)(KDVO) 3 N  UTC-8(-7DT) N38°08.62' Wl22°33.37'
FUEL 100LL, JET A OX 1, 2 TPA-1002(1000) NOTAM FILE OAK
RWY 13-31: H3300X75 (ASPH) S-26 MIRL
RWY 13: PAPl(P2R)-GA 3.5° TCH 28' Tree.
RWY 31: PAPl(P2L)-GA 4.0° TCH 56' Hill. Rgt tfc.
AIRPORT REMARKS: Attended 1600-0100Z. Ditches surround rwy. Jet and turbine acft land Rwy 13 depart Rwy 31 as wind and traffic permit. Helicopters apch from E and depart to E, remain N of radio towers. Rwy 13 calm wind rwy. Rwy 13 has paved 125' overrun. Rwy 31 has 100' overrun. Mountains South and West. Noise sensitive area SE of arpt. Avoid straight-out departures on Rwy 13 and straight-in ldgs on Rwy 31.
AIRPORT MANAGER: 415-897-1754
WEATHER DATA SOURCES: AWOS-3 120.675 (415) 897- 2236
COMMUNICATIONS, CTAF/UNICOM: 123.075
OAKLAND CENTER APP/DEP CON: 127.8
RADIO AIDS TO NAVIGATION: NOTAM FILE APC.

SCAGGS ISLAND (L) VORTACW 112.1 SGD Chan 58 N38°10.76' Wl 22°22.39' 239° 8.9 NM to lid. 6/ l 7E.

HELIPAD H1: H60X60 (CONC)
HELIPORT REMARKS: Approach 050°/230° magnetic

Gnoss Field Noise Abatement brochure

Gnoss Field publishes a noise abatement procedure for operators and pilots to reduce the noise impacts from aircraft on surrounding residents. The map depicts the recommended procedures to approach the airport, enter the traffic pattern for landing, and departure headings. Furthermore, these procedures are summarized in the Airport/Facilities Directory, posted on signs at each end of the runway for departing aircraft, and announced on the weather radio frequency for the airport.

Gnoss Field Environmental Impact Report

A comprehensive environmental impact review (EIR) of the proposed 1,110’ extension of the runway at Gnoss Field was certified by the Marin County Board of Supervisors on February 11, 2014 under the California CEQA process. The FAA completed an environmental impact statement (EIS) on July 3, 2014 under the federal NEPA process.

The multi-year process involved numerous stakeholders representing government agencies, environmental advocates, residents and neighbors of the airport, and airport businesses and users. A comprehensive web site was published to provide public access to the detailed information, comments and responses to comments in the review process.

Gnoss Field Grand Jury Report

“Gnoss Field: Yeah, But It’s Our Airport”

In 2014, the Marin County Civil Grand Jury studied the management and operation of the Marin County Airport, Gnoss Field. They concluded that “the airport is, given available resources, well managed for a general aviation airport of its size. … There are, however, some issues that need to be addressed.” The report contains 11 findings and 14 recommendations. Responses were requested from the Marin County Board of Supervisors, the Director of Public Works and County Administrator for Marin County, the Aviation Commission and the Airport Land Use Commission.