Impact of Palomar Airport Expansion - Carlsbad

User Forum Topic
Submitted by Bubblesitter on October 12, 2007 - 2:34am

An update on the planned Palomar airport expansion in Carlsbad. A large new terminal building is planned. Groundbreaking if it hasn't occured yet will soon begin. This will increase flight operations at the airport, along with the size/type of of aircraft, e.g. more noisy 70 passenger turboprops.

Seems to be a growing groundswell of resident opposition to this. Not much can be done however, other than complain about violations of VNAP (Voluntary Noise Abatement Procedures) THESE ARE VOLUNTARY GUIDELINES ONLY. Property value in surrounding areas will surely be impacted. Here's the opposition site.

The opposing view from the Palomar airport association spells out their view. Good points. High density residental should never have been approved for surrounding areas.

This is getting increasingly contentious. The PAA site is claiming their site has been vandalized by opponents. The Carlsbad planning commission sure screwed this one up big time. They approved Bressi ranch which is in the flight path of this airport, THIS AIRPORT IS ONE OF THE BUSIEST SMALL AIRPORTS IN THE COUNTRY WITH 200,000+ FLIGHT OPERATIONS YEARLY. IT WILL GET BUSIER!!

Submitted by NewtoSanDiego on January 16, 2009 - 1:30am.

Thanks for the valuable information on the impact of Palomar airport on surrounding residential areas.

I'm currently looking for a nice 4 BR Single family home in South Carlsbad.




Submitted by gg on January 16, 2009 - 10:38am.

As a matter of correction, here are the actual stunning statistics from NTSB. Some are listed twice and I have corrected. If this does not get attention of FAA and the county and hopefully pilots I do not know what will. There is a critical situation here.

If this does not present a case for mandatory quiet hours and flight paths, I do not know what will. The expansion of the airport will only increase these tragedies with increased operations and larger passenger loads. It may even be doable if there were mandatory rules like at these other larger airports who handle more traffic, but under strict rules and controllers on duty, resulting in safer communities.

NTSB Tracking of Aircraft incidents - Calendar years 2000-2008
Apx annual
Location Incidents Fatalities operations*

Palomar 16 13 215,000
John Wayne 8 0 334,000
Lindberg 10 1 227,000
Los Angeles 26 8 506,000
Naples, FL 10 1 132,000
Van Nuys, CA 15 3 504,000

Operations from, incidents & fatalities from

We can all continue the spitting contest of who was here first and why we are here now. But, going to the beginning, there were many fewer planes and homes. Homes or the airport will not go away, nor should it. Sooooooo. Why don't we all try to prevent growth of either so as to minimize future problems. Then let's all try to work together - a very novel thought. This would include cooperation as was the intent of the Fly Friendly Program, initiated by residents and reluctantly approved by PAAC and the county. Unfortunately, the result of "let's all just get along and cooperate" (which includes having pilots follow the guidelines) has simply not made a difference as evidenced by the constant traffic over homes.

What is so hard about following the departure patterns and Quiet Hours? I can tell you this. If they do not get followed voluntarily on a more frequent basis, the above statistics certainly warrent consideration of mandatory rules. Then you plane people may get stuck with Mandatory rules altogether, which will really put a crimp in your freedom. So, it stands to reason, if you all can get your fellow aviators to comply, and then residents can see this, they will let down their cries for mandatory and go back into thier homes and everyone can be happy. That is called cooperation. If not, the valid safety concerns of residents will surely be heard and result in restictions (ie mandatory) that you do not want.

While I am at this, there appears to be a huge divergence of interest between the hobbyist pilots and the jet/commercial entepreneurs at the airport. Can anyone explain on how these two groups work with or against each other?

Thats all for now. GG

Submitted by jiggy on January 16, 2009 - 12:16pm.

I bought here because the disclosures warned us of the airport but told us that there was a VNAP in place and that planes did not fly over our neighborhoods!! My neighborhood was NOT in the flight path and it stated that in the sales office. In fact, we considered buying in Rancho Carrillo but felt the planes might fly over that area so did not buy there. Furthermore, at the time the airport was so small and we were told it could not expand.

For you to assume that I would put my children in danger is ludicrous. The problems with the planes flying over our neighborhood really just got bad within the last two years. Before that it did not bother us. Believe me, if I could afford to move I would. I downsized to buy this home--now it would still cost twice what I paid for it to buy it and anything else is more expensive.

The reason our group talks about the quiet hours is because of the absence of people in the control tower during those times, which we feel is a safety issue. I am not complaining about the noise.

If you do your research you will discover that the accident rate at Palomar is scary:

NTSB Tracking of Aircraft incidents - Calendar years 2000-2008

Apx annual





Palomar Airport, Carlsbad CA




John Wayne, Santa Ana, CA




Lindberg, San Diego, CA




Los Angeles, CA




Naples, FL




Van Nuys, CA




I feel no need to elaborate further.

Submitted by Coronita on January 16, 2009 - 12:49pm.

jiggy wrote:

For you to assume that I would put my children in danger is ludicrous. The problems with the planes flying over our neighborhood really just got bad within the last two years. Before that it did not bother us. Believe me, if I could afford to move I would. I downsized to buy this home--now it would still cost twice what I paid for it to buy it and anything else is more expensive.

I don't think that there was an initial assumption questioning you intentionally put your children in harms way initially.

But if you think it is a such a huge safety issue right now, why don't you move?

You said it yourself, you could probably sell the home for twice as much as what you what you paid for. Assuming you didn't heloc the heck out of your home. Why not sell it and rent, cash in the profit, and temporarily rent somewhere where it is safer if your family's safety is really at risk?

Seems like a no brainer then to stay and take any chances on getting issues resolved that may take years...

Submitted by Deserted on January 16, 2009 - 10:15pm.

Let me clarify my prior post and take issue with some of the subsequent comments.

I'm a pilot. I fly for business purposes, though I am not a commercial carrier pilot. I am not based an Palomar, though I've flown in and out countless times. In good weather and under instrument conditions.

After looking at the data, it's clear that there is an astoundingly high accident rate going into and out of Palomar. Reviewing the accidents show that most occurred under instrument conditions (coastal fog). One occurred in clear weather when two planes collided, causing 6 deaths. Maybe it's just weird coincidence, but the incident, accident, and death rates are way out of proportion to similar airports.

As a pilot, this makes me think that arrival and departure procedures need to be reassessed at Palomar. Yet the accidents have NO BEARING on whether the tower is manned or unmanned. In fact, most of the accidents occurred when the tower was manned and operating.

So the accident statistics give no justification for "quiet hours." There is no safety reason to close the airport when the tower personnel leave.

Nearby homeowners have an obvious vested interest in restricting flight operations whenever possible -- especially at night. So let's call it what it is: an attempt to increase home valuation after getting a discount for moving into a noisy neighborhood.

I don't live under a noisy flight path. But I'd like to shut down my local street to the noisy pretentious Harley riders and the idiot car owners with the moronic bass-augmented music systems. However, the street belongs to licensed drivers. Just like the sky belongs to any certified pilot (under Federal Aviation Regulations).

Noise abatement programs have been instituted at some airports, but the Federal government usually takes a dim view of any restrictions since they see these rules as clear attempts to shut down airport operations.

So let's base opinions on facts, not emotion or self-interest. Noise does not equate with danger. "Quiet hours" have no basis in accident protection. "Quiet hours" do serve the parochial interest of the local homeowners at the expense of the National aviation transportation system.

Submitted by jiggy on January 18, 2009 - 3:28pm.

Contarian, your arguments are valid and you stated your points well. I thank you for your thoughts on the accident statistics and the quiet hours. Assuming you are correct that the tower being closed has no connection with accidents, I will agree with you that mandating the quiet hours is more of a noise issue. Personally I do not like being awakened in the middle of the night to jet engines, but this is secondary to the safety issues at hand.

The most important issue here is to avoid tragedy. Whatever the reasons for allowing builders to build homes or for allowing the airport to take on more traffic, there is nothing we can do about that now. Like GG said, we all have to work together so that planes do not crash into homes.

I am not an official who granted building permits near the airport, nor did I purchase a home in the flight path. We felt we were far enough away to not encounter problems. One person insinuated that I do not take my childrens' safety to heart because I am not moving: this is unfair and unfortunately not a black and white issue--that person does not know me, my financial status, nor the reasons why moving is not an option at this time.

I hope that everyone can work together to promote safety. That is all I am asking, as are others involved in these issues. Thank you all for understanding.

Submitted by Deserted on January 18, 2009 - 4:50pm.

Thanks jiggy. (I'm afraid to ask how you got that name.)

I almost feel honored to be part of a blog where people can post without the personal attacks or mindless opinions that one sees on most other websites.

The issues of airport noise and airport safety are here and they're not going away. They will become more important over time. They are not restricted to San Diego County. There have been contentious battles from Santa Monica to Teterboro.

To fully illustrate the stupidity of regulation consider Montgomery Field. Montgomery Field has a noise abatement ordinance with fairly stiff penalties for late night operations. This ordinance was, as I understand it, developed to placate homeowners who foolishly bought homes in the early 1960's built right under the departure path.

Forget that Montgomery had been a busy airport since at least the 1940's. Forget that the San Diego City zoning department was warned to never allow housing in that area. (You must purposely forget a lot if you want to discuss development around airports!)

The noise regulations do NOTHING to mitigate the danger of aircraft operations at Montgomery other than to push operations from late night to daytime or evening-time. They are there to placate the homeowners who knowingly purchased homes under a noisy (and dangerous) departure path. In many people's opinion, homes that should never have been approved for construction.

About 15 years ago, construction of the mall across the west side of 163 was allowed -- again against the advice of most everyone associated with Montgomery. But the developers won. Go figure.

The only bright spot was the recent mandatory removal of the illegal upper two stories from the development just north of Montgomery. I was truly amazed that the City had the cajones to force the issue. Of course, the multistory building itself still poses some hazard, but developers have to wring maximal profit out of the land and ignore "acceptable" danger -- don't they?

I make the sad prediction that an aircraft will have engine failure after take-off from the main runway at Montgomery and crash into the mall. Not if, only when. You know that In and Out Burger? It's directly in line with the main runway departure path. One day the drive-in window will be a fly-in window.

Montgomery has been made an inherently unsafe airport by allowing this adjacent development. Useless "noise abatement" programs only give the illusion of safety. Montgomery perfectly illustrates how the public's perception of safety is completely divorced from actual safety.

Don't even get me started on Lindbergh.

Why am I posting? I don't even know. Venting I guess. Mainly against the psychotic zoning approval in San Diego County which knowingly allows the design and construction of unsafe development.

Submitted by Ricechex on January 18, 2009 - 7:26pm.

I know an Air Traffic Controller that has been working at Palomar for over a decade. She states that most of the accidents occur because the pilots (usually private pilots, not commercial) don't follow the instructions given by the Controllers. For example, she states that when a plane is going awry the pilot is instructed to do something (I cannot remember what--sorry) and oftentimes, they believe what they feel, rather than what the instruments read. According to her, the private pilots also have a higher degree of arrogance and don't want to follow the directions of the Controllers. Maybe, the pilot in this thread can comment on this?

Submitted by Deserted on January 18, 2009 - 10:09pm.

General Aviation is dangerous. When I first started flying 25 years ago I hid my head in the sand believing that flying was just as safe as driving a car. After 3000 hours in the air I know it's not. Any pilot who says so is delusional or uninformed.

Pilots must do everything in their power to fly safely. If they do that, then it's as safe as driving, maybe even safer. The problem is, so many pilots do not do everything in their power to be safe. Those facts are plain as day.

Recreational pilots have the very worst safety record. Self-piloting business flying is much safer. Charter operations are safer yet (we have passed the "safer than driving" statistic here). Corporate flying is extremely safe. And (other than the recent Hudson River landing) commercial flight is the very safest means of transportation.

Of course commercial flying is safer. You have two professional pilots flying the same routes every week. The aircraft is generally far more capable than that flown by the general aviation pilot. About 90% of accidents are caused by pilot error. And bold amateurs tend to make a lot more errors than seasoned professionals.

So yes, general aviation is by far the riskiest travel in the air. I don't know if it's arrogance, poor training, poor ability, or just plain stupidity. Probably a little of each.

The comment about following instruments is probably related to flight in IMC "Instrument Meteorologic Conditions." Pilots must pass a written test and a flight test to fly in IMC -- it's a big step up from flying in clear weather. While the FAA mandates fairly strict training and currency standards for pilots as well as specific aircraft capability, it's not unusual for pilots to "cheat" on their qualifications (no one is really looking!) and fly in IMC when they shouldn't. It's dumb, it's dangerous, it's illegal -- but people do it. Go figure. Probably at least one of the fatal Palomar accidents occurred with that scenario. (Don't be so surprised -- like you never heard of someone driving drunk without a license?)

I don't want to knock flying -- especially flying in Southern California. Southern California has some of the busiest airspace in the world. There's a reason for that: it has wonderful weather, many great airports, and beautiful scenery. Sometimes it's so perfect I think I'm having a Zen experience. You just gotta do it right.

Submitted by mike92104 on January 18, 2009 - 10:20pm.

It's cool to run into a pilot on piggington. I'm going to begin training for my license in a couple weeks (don't worry Jiggy, I'm doing it in Ramona :) ) If you can stand having a ride along, I'm willing to help with fuel. I figure I learn a ton from just riding around with experienced pilots.

I was also surprised at the stats for Palomar, and agree that some changes should be made, but only after a new study to find the causes. As far as noise, sorry, but planes are noisy and the tend to fly low near airports.

Submitted by djc on January 28, 2009 - 10:35pm.

I say if we mandate quiet hours and make the VNAP mandatory, we allow Southwest to fly in 737's and connect Carlsbad to the world.

Seems like a fair exchange! :)

Submitted by svelte on February 11, 2015 - 10:55pm.

Deserted wrote:

Originally I thought I would blast jiggy for voicing the typical non-pilot irrational fear of aircraft and airports. However, when I began a little internet research to back up my views, I was surprised by what I found: there's something not quite right about Palomar Airport.


What surprised me was the number of accidents at Palomar. I checked the NTSB database for the past 10 years. There were 6 accidents with 16 fatalities. Contrast that with a Montgomery field, which is a busier airport (671 operations ber day versus 591 at Palomar) with a bit more complex surrounding airspace. Montgomery had 1 accident with 2 fatalities -- and that one occurred in 1999.

Palomar data:

Montgomery accident:

Statistically, this shows an astounding concentration of accidents at Palomar. It has the same precision approach (ILS) as Montgomery, roughly the same control tower hours, the same approach control, and yet nearly an order of magnitude more accidents and fatalities.

I think jiggy's right -- there's something wrong with Palomar. Unless there's some form of mass stupidity affecting only the pilots flying into Palomar, the FAA needs to study Palomar procedures and change things.

Wow, I started poking around and found all the fatalities....funny thing is I was living just up the road a few miles during all of those listed below and don't remember a thing about them!! The mind is an odd contraption.

- On January 24, 2006 a Cessna Citation V landing runway 24 on a flight from Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, Idaho burst into flames after crashing into a self-storage facility adjacent to the airport. All four aboard (two passengers and two crew) were killed;

- On April 29, 2007 a Cessna 182 Skylane carrying three people crashed about 1-mile (1.6 km) off the shore shortly after takeoff at 9:30 am.

- On July 3, 2007 a Beechcraft 90 King Air carrying two people crashed after taking off shortly after 6 am in dense fog. The aircraft hit power lines, which caused power outages for local residents and businesses. The two on board died

- On April 19, 2008 a Cessna Citation Mustang skidded off the end of runway 24 and collapsed the main landing gear. The aircraft had four on board, who were uninjured. The Mustang had flown from Lincoln Regional Airport, northeast of Sacramento, California.

- On September 22, 2008 a Cessna 152 crashed just west of College Boulevard on the extended centerline after departing runway 24. The aircraft had two on board, who were both injured and evacuated by air.

- On September 28, 2008 a Beechcraft Bonanza crashed southeast of the airport after the pilot aborted a landing attempt in fog. The pilot was alone and was killed.

This seems like quite a cluster in 2 and a half years, so I poked around more and found this:

Dwight Webster ... noted that there have been five fatal accidents, accounting for 13 deaths, at or near the airport since 2002.


The FAA is concerned about a recent cluster of three accidents in 19 months. He said the fatalities involve pilots and passengers, and that no one on the ground has been killed.

“The fact is, Palomar is a challenging airport,” Gregor said, noting that early-morning fog and winds can play tricks on pilots.

“We've taken steps to address the issue, gone out to flight schools and briefings out there” to be more safety-conscious, Gregor said.

All the accidents since 2002 were attributable to pilot error, according to a National Transportation Safety Board database. In one instance, a tower operator contributed by failing to alert pilots that they were on a collision course.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.