Long Beach Airport reconfiguration studied

April 22, 2013

A portion of the FAA airport diagram, with “hot spots” at Long Beach Airport illustrated.

Long Beach Airport, owned and operated by the city of Long Beach, Calif., has five runways (each of them bidirectional), a host of flight schools and FBOs, and more than 250,000 operations a year including general aviation and commercial flights. All that activity on a layout that includes six runway intersections and a complex network of taxiways has propelled Long Beach near the top of the FAA list of airports with the highest number of incursions and surface incidents in the country—involving a mix of commercial, general aviation, and corporate flights. The FAA airport diagram details seven “hot spots” on the field, areas where complex intersections have repeatedly led to trouble even for airline operators.

With a $136 million terminal overhaul (including preservation of the historic original) now complete, attention is being focused on improving the movement areas in a cost-effective manner, making use of existing runways and taxiways where possible. Consultants hired by the city have developed four design options to mitigate the current safety issues, and the city has made a concerted and consistent effort to include operators—including local FBOs and flight schools, airlines, and AOPA—in the decision-making process. AOPA Vice President of Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn was invited to attend a recent meeting organized by the airport staff and consultants to brief the association on progress to date, and the options under consideration.

One of the four main alternative designs—each involving the consolidation of existing runways and taxiways or other strategies to reduce the number and complexity of intersections—will be chosen in the coming months.

Dunn told the airport and consultant that while AOPA understands that safety is the driving force in this long-term project, the association seeks assurance that the final design will not negatively impact its constituents’ ability to operate at Long Beach Airport.

“Generally speaking, closing runways simply isn’t in AOPA’s DNA,” Dunn said.