Floating Airport in San Diego?

Figure 1: Artist Rendering of floating airport off the coast of Point Loma

Where to build a new airport? This question has dogged San Diego for years. San Diego International Airport (AKA Lindbergh Field) has only 1 runway and is overloaded. One proposed solution is a floating airport. We feature this idea for #seismicsaturday.

✈️In the early 2000s, several SD companies began advocating for a floating airport to be built off the coast of Point Loma (fig. 2). The airport would be built on a pneumatically stabilized platform, created with concrete cylinders with trapped air inside that are connected together (fig. 3a-b). Source: Float Inc.

Figure 2: Proposed location of floating airport and flight & water corridors

✈️Proponents for the floating airport point to a successful test of a prototype in Tokyo Bay (fig. 4). This 1000 meter scale model was built in 1999 and had successful airplane takeoffs and landings. Proponents also say that a airport in the ocean wouldn’t create so much noise over residential areas. Currently, airplanes landing in SD rattle the Banker’s Hill and Little Italy neighborhoods during final descent.

Figure 4: 1000-meter floating airport built in Tokyo Bay

✈️Opponents of the floating airport idea point to practical problems, like transportation too and from the airport, motion and stability of the airport during tides and storms, corrosion from salt water and marine air, poor visibility in fog, and ridiculously high construction costs. Other opponenents raise ethical concerns: “”if we build floating airports, can floating strip malls be far behind?” (Aviation Pros 2007).

It is not likely that the floating airport will be built any time soon in SD. But with air travel at record highs, and the SD Int’l Airport full to overflowing, the floating airport idea may soon resurface.

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