Ventura County Hopeful Extended Runway Leads to Growth at Oxnard Airport

Submitted by Scott Malta

At 7:00 a.m. on October 27, 2011, Oxnard Airport opened with a new landing distance of 5,500 feet.  This new distance, an increase of 924 feet over the previous landing distance, is important for the airport because it maximizes the available runway pavement for landing, enhances safety and brings the airport into compliance with FAA standards, all while minimizing any negative impacts to the community surrounding the airport.

Prior to an obstruction survey being completed in 1968, the airport utilized the full 5,953 foot runway for landings on Runway 25 (aircraft landing to the west), and has always utilized the full runway for take offs.  The 1968 obstruction survey showed the steeple of the Santa Clara Church was an obstruction to the approach end of Runway 25, resulting in a displaced threshold of approximately 1,377 feet, leaving only 4,576 feet of landing distance for Runway 25.  

In 1971 the steeple was damaged during the Sylmar earthquake.  When it was rebuilt in 1973 it was rebuilt at a lower height and was no longer considered an obstruction for Runway 25.  However, eliminating the displaced threshold and returning the landing distance to the full distance for Runway 25 was not pursued for many years.  It was considered in 1996 and again in 2004 as part of master plan updates, but was not pursued.  
In 2008, the County of Ventura Department of Airports conducted a feasibility analysis to consider alternatives for relocating the displaced threshold to different locations on the runway that would accommodate the above stated objectives of safety, compliance and minimal community impacts.  In the end, a compromise to relocate the threshold to a location that provided 5,500 feet of landing distance was agreed upon and pursued.  
This compromise allowed the Instrument Landing System (ILS) to remain in its current location (resulting in cost savings), corrected the non-standard threshold crossing height, and improved safety by providing 924 additional feed of landing distance for aircraft to land.  Another benefit of the relocated threshold is that it also improves the chances for the County to restore the commercial air service to the airport with regional jet and turboprop type aircraft.  
The new landing distance of 5,500 feet is comparable to that needed by regional airline fleets to operate safely at the airport.  The County is hopeful that this improvement will better position Oxnard airport to be viewed as a viable location by regional and commuter airlines.
Todd McNamee, Ventura County Director of Airports said, “I am personally very excited about this project as I believe it helps to secure the airport’s future.  So much so that I took off from our other County owned airport (Camarillo) which is located 5nm to the east as the crow flies, just before 7:00 a.m. so I could be the first airplane to land on the “new” runway.  I touched down with my Airports Manager, Jorge Rubio, at 7:03 a.m. in my Piper Archer.  I landed long so as not to scuff the new threshold paint.  So I say anyway.”
Requests for additional information may be directed to Todd McNamee, Director of Airports at 805-388-4200 or by email at