Saturday, February 09, 2008

SAN Tour (part 2)

Interesting things we learned about San Diego International Airport:

  • There is a runaway plane catch area at the west end of the runway. It looks like a bunch of gray boxes in a big pit that is designed to stop a plane with little damage to it.

  • The airport is home to very successful California least tern nesting sites. The areas have tiny fences around them to keep the chicks from wandering onto the tarmac and taxiways.

  • There is a pet relief area between terminals 1 and 2.

  • Human waste from airliners is disposed of in a little shack just off the east end of the runway. Trucks pump it out of the planes and then pump it into the sewer system.

  • Due to their limited space, SAN is quite anti-general aviation. Since they accept FAA money, they have to allow GA aircraft, but they only have a small area for them. There is only one FBO which is a jet company. I counted only about 10 jets, 1 turboprop and zero piston aircraft.

  • The runway can support large jets like the 747 and 777 but they takeoff with a weight penalty due to the hills of Point Loma directly in the takeoff path to the west. This means they can't carry a full fuel load and wouldn't be able to make it to Asia non-stop, thus they are not cost-effective for the airliners. They also don't see the A380 coming to SAN for similar reasons. They hope that the 787, with its greater fuel efficiency, would be able to make it non-stop even with the weight penalty.

  • Another reason you don't see a lot of 747's is that they must taxi on the north side of the runway due to the narrow south taxiway. This means they have to cross the runway which is not good. Plans are in the works to enlarge the south taxiway by removing some of the old Teledyne-Ryan buildings in the southeast corner of the property.

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