Gnoss Field Airport Proposed Runway Extension EIS and EIR
 
 

Gnoss Field Approach

Background/Need

Gnoss Field Background

Marin County Airport or Gnoss Field Airport (DVO) is a public airport operated, managed and maintained by the Marin County Public Works Department. It is located in the unincorporated area approximately three miles northeast of the City of Novato on a 120-acre site situated between U.S. Highway 101 and the Petaluma River. Gnoss Field is classified as a "general aviation" airport, which is defined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an airport that serves personal and business aircraft, but not scheduled commercial airlines.

Gnoss Field is the nearest general aviation facility to San Francisco and is also close to the Sonoma/Napa wine country. As a result, it is a popular destination for both business and pleasure aircraft. Gnoss Field currently has one runway (Runway13/31) that is 3,300 feet long and 75 feet wide that serves the approximately 85,000 operations that occur at the Airport annually.

Purpose and Need

Marin County has prepared several evaluations of the Airport's operations and facilities. These studies identified the limitations regarding the Airport's ability to accommodate existing aircraft and aviation users for which the Airport was designed, and proposed an extension of Runway 13/31. The existing runway at DVO is 3,300 feet long and as a result cannot fully accommodate the operations of the family grouping of the critical, or most demanding, aircraft that regularly uses the airport (regular use is defined as 500 or more annual takeoffs and landings by an aircraft type). Therefore, the purpose of the Sponsorís Proposed Project is to allow existing aircraft, as represented by the family grouping of critical aircraft at DVO, to operate without operational weight restrictions at DVO under hot weather conditions.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register on July 11, 2008 announcing its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for proposed improvements at Gnoss Field Airport (DVO or Airport) Novato, California, including an extension of Runway 13/31. The FAA released the Draft EIS for a 60-day public review on December 9, 2011, held a public hearing to receive comments on the Draft EIS on January 10, 2012, and accepted public comments on the EIS through February 6, 2012. The Draft EIS identified the critical aircraft (the most demanding aircraft with more than 500 annual operations-takeoffs and landings) at Gnoss Field Airport as the Cessna 525 business jet. The Draft EIS identified an 1,100 foot extension of the existing runway was necessary for the Cessna 525 to operate without operational weight restrictions at DVO under hot weather conditions.

The FAA reviewed and responded to all comments on the Draft EIS in the Final EIS. The FAA released the Final EIS for a No-Action period in June 2014. As part of the FAA review of comment letters on the Final EIS, the FAA concluded that aviation activity and the number of annual operations of the Cessna 525, the critical aircraft identified in the Draft EIS and Final EIS, might have declined below the 500 annual operations threshold.

Therefore, the FAA did not issue a Record of Decision (ROD) regarding the Federal actions in the Final EIS, but instead determined in January 2015 that a current aviation forecast, critical aircraft determination, and runway length determination were needed to determine whether or not the proposed project in the June 2014 Final EIS required revision. The FAA completed this forecasting and analysis in the April 2016 Gnoss Field Airport, Proposed Extension of Runway 13/31, Purpose and Need Working Paper. The April 2016 Working Paper identified a different critical aircraft, the family of B-II turboprop aircraft, than was identified in the June 2014 Final EIS. The runway length requirement for the new critical aircraft is 3,600 feet, 300 feet longer than the existing runway at DVO, but 800 feet shorter than had been determined necessary for the prior critical aircraft identified in the June 2014 Final EIS, the Cessna 525 business jet.

The April 2016 Purpose and Need Working Paper was released for a public comment period extending from May 2, 2016 to June 17, 2016. Many commenters on the April 2016 Purpose and Need Working Paper stated that they believed that the number of operations identified for jet aircraft in that working paper, specifically for the critical aircraft identified in the June 2014 Final EIS (the Cessna 525), were lower than the actual number of operations for that aircraft at the airport. In order to resolve whether the number of annual aircraft operations of the critical (most demanding) aircraft, had been undercounted, the FAA undertook an update to the April 2016 Purpose and Need Working Paper including the aviation activity demand forecast with an increased focus on the annual operations of the Cessna 525 aircraft. The FAA held a public workshop on May 18, 2017 to explain the methodology to be used to further evaluate the number of annual aircraft operations of the most demanding aircraft, and update the public and regulatory agencies on the status of the EIS and the Updated Purpose and Need Working Paper.

The February 2018 Updated Purpose and Need Working Paper provides additional documentation regarding the number of annual aircraft operations by different types of aircraft at Gnoss Field Airport and provides the most current forecast of future aviation activity at the airport. The February 2018 Working Paper found that the family of B-II turboprop aircraft remains the critical aircraft for Gnoss Field Airport, and that a 300 foot runway extension of Runway 13/31 to a total length of 3,600 feet remains the necessary runway length for the critical aircraft to operate without operational weight restrictions at Gnoss Field Airport under hot weather conditions. The FAA is requesting public comments on the Updated Purpose and Need Working Paper as part of an additional National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) public scoping effort for this project prior to preparing a Supplement to the Final EIS. You may submit comments on the Purpose and Need Working Paper from February 16, 2018 to April 6, 2018, or at the March 20, 2018 public meeting as described in the Public Notice. After the public comment period has ended, and public comments have been evaluated, the FAA will continue with the development of the Supplement to the Final EIS for the runway extension project.

Additional copies of the Updated Purpose and Need Working Paper and the June 2014 Final EIS are available for download by highlighting the titles of those documents in this sentence.

For further information you may contact:

Mr. Doug Pomeroy
Federal Aviation Administration
San Francisco Airports District Office
1000 Marina Boulevard, Suite 220
Brisbane, California 94005-1835. Telephone 650-827-7612 FAX 650-872-1430
e-mail: douglas.pomeroy@faa.gov