E16 Airport Master Plan

Airport Background & Plan Proposals

South County Airport was established in the 1960s to serve as a:

  • General Aviation airport to serve local users in southern Santa Clara County

  • Reliever airport to serve the overflow of demand (parking and operational) from northern and central Santa Clara County

The Airport was originally envisioned as a dual-runway facility with capacity to base 550 aircraft, although the 1982 Airports Master Plan recommended redefining the airport’s role to a single-runway facility including “aircraft parking capacity commensurate with its single-runway airfield capacity.” The 1982 Master Plan went on to describe how the airfield capacity could become the limiting factor with regard to the airport’s basing capacity if the number of annual operations per based aircraft remained high. At 650 annual operations per aircraft, for example, only 300 or so aircraft could be based at the airport because of the throughput limitations of the single runway, even though the airport has the physical space to accommodate over 600 aircraft. At less than 650 annual operations per aircraft, basing capacity increases accordingly. This issue is discussed here because some feel that the 1982 Master Plan reduced the basing capacity at South County to 300 aircraft.

The airport currently serves light, single- and twin-engine piston aircraft; limited use by turboprop and the smallest business jet aircraft also occurs. The airport currently has 90-based aircraft and a total of 178 aircraft storage spaces, not including the hangars currently under design.

Among the three County airports, South County Airport is the only one without severe physical constraints on its future development. Two scenarios were developed to illustrate the range of development that could occur at the airport, one based on the existing airport property and one based on airport expansion.

Existing Property Expansion Proposal

Under this development scenario the airport would retain its current property boundaries. Approximately 45 acres are available for future development within the existing airport footprint, 32 of which would be devoted to aircraft storage while 13 acres would be reserved for FBO leaseholds. This alternative would increase the based aircraft capacity by 519 to 697 aircraft, including approximately 444 aircraft in storage hangars and 75 aircraft on FBO leaseholds.

South County Expansion Proposal

Under this development scenario, the 38-acre parcel adjacent to the southwest part of the airport would be acquired and Murphy Avenue would be realigned. Approximately 83 acres would be available for development. About 68 acres would be devoted to aircraft storage, including large box hangars for corporate aircraft.

An additional 15 acres would be reserved for FBO leaseholds and, potentially, limited non-aviation use. This alternative would in- crease the based aircraft capacity by 794 to 972 aircraft. This includes an increase in 694 aircraft in storage hangars and 100 aircraft on FBO leaseholds. It is important to note that although the airport would be physically capable of accommodating 972 aircraft under this scenario, airfield capacity limitations in terms of the number of annual operations would most likely limit the maximum basing capacity to less than 972 aircraft.

Santa Clara County is currently undertaking development of about 100 hangars at South County Airport. However, as these units do not currently exist, they are not included as existing capacity.

South County Airport Master Plan (July 2006)

South County Airport Master Plan Report