* Your April 1 editorial on the county's lack of technical candor about an airline airport at El Toro is right on target. The airport planners were quite interested in involving the pilots in the planning process so long as we saw it their way. Once we recommended in writing that they realign the runways to conform with the model at Ontario Airport, they cut off any further communications with us.
The county ignores the input of the pilots and anyone else with an objective technical, safety and efficiency analysis of their plan. They virtually enshrine the FAA as the sole fount of safety wisdom. If the day comes when the FAA takes public exception to the county's plan, then we suspect even the FAA will be deemed by the county to be misdirected at that point.
The FAA establishes minimum safety standards for airports. Further, at this stage of planning, the regional FAA offices have not even addressed the issues of airline efficiency and whether the county's restrictive plans will permit the proposed airport to be a positive element in the national airspace system. That is a judgment that FAA headquarters someday will have to make, but they simply won't supersede the regional offices at this time--although they very well may have to at some future time.
Airlines, aircraft manufacturers, air traffic controllers and pilots make the nation's airline system work. The FAA planners and policy makers are just one element in the total picture and, without full industry support, the FAA often does less than a sterling job.
Sadly, the county is placing noise politics and votes far ahead of a sound plan for El Toro. Although the association would prefer to see the runways at El Toro realigned, the airport could work at some lesser number of annual operations with the existing runways, but not without a second all-weather approach and landing system from the west, and not without takeoffs into prevailing winds. Finally, departures over the high terrain to the north would be an accident waiting to happen.
CAPT. JON RUSSELL
Chairman, Western Pacific--South Safety Committee
Air Line Pilots Assn.