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O.C. commission and supervisors to weigh plan to boost general aviation at John Wayne Airport

O.C. commission and supervisors to weigh plan to boost general aviation at John Wayne Airport
John Wayne Airport is home to about 500 general aviation aircraft and has about 50 such departures a day. (File Photo)

The Orange County Board of Supervisors is set to vote next week on planned enhancements to general aviation services at John Wayne Airport that would include a terminal and dedicated customs screening for non-commercial international flights.

The county Airport Commission, which advises the supervisors, will consider endorsing the same plan when it meets Wednesday.

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The Board of Supervisors’ April 23 vote will be a milestone in a four-year effort to update JWA’s general aviation operations and infrastructure, including buildings and airfield roads, to comply with current Federal Aviation Administration standards. A terminal for private flights and a few more departures per day are part of a plan endorsed by airport administrators.

The proposed terminal — the airport currently has terminals only for commercial service — would house a separate, fee-based screening facility for international travelers flying privately. The proposed changes would stay within the airport’s existing footprint.

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General aviation covers smaller, nonscheduled, private aircraft, from single-engine turboprop planes to corporate jets. John Wayne Airport has about 50 general aviation departures a day. Under the county’s preferred plan, known as Alternative 1, such departures would increase to 57 per day.

The county, which owns and operates JWA, says the updates would provide facilities to serve an increase in the number of private jets at the airport.

Leaders and residents in neighboring Newport Beach have firmly opposed most of the proposed enhancements. The City Council backed a plan in March that would allow for the FAA-required adjustments but keep the frequency of private aircraft departures the same. It would not add a new terminal.

Residents fear that expanded accommodations for private jets would lead to an increase in traffic from the jets, which are nearly as loud as commercial airliners and are not held to the same time restrictions for flights.

Wednesday’s Airport Commission meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Eddie Martin Administration Building at JWA, 3160 Airway Ave., Costa Mesa.

The Board of Supervisors meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Orange County Hall of Administration, 333 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana.

This article was originally published at 5:30 p.m. April 15 and was later updated with a new Airport Commission meeting time. The meeting previously was scheduled for 5 p.m.

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