Palmdale Regional Airport
|Palmdale Regional Airport|
|USGS 2006 orthophoto|
|IATA: PMD – ICAO: KPMD – FAA LID: PMD|
|Airport type||Public/Military (Joint Use)|
|Owner/Operator||Los Angeles World Airports &
United States Air Force
|Elevation AMSL||2,543 ft / 775 m|
|Source: Federal Aviation Administration|
- See: United States Air Force Plant 42 for the United States Government use of the facility
Palmdale Regional Airport has a small airline terminal and a hangar. The airport terminal is at the southwest corner of the airport and began civilian operations in 1971. The City of Palmdale took over the airport at the end of 2013, managing it with the Palmdale Airport Authority and is working on a new online airport site. The FAA's Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center is next to the facility.
The airport is included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a primary commercial service facility based on enplanements in 2008 (more than 10,000 per year). Federal Aviation Administration records say the airport had 10,392 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2008, 82% more than the 5,712 in 2007.
When combining the existing 5,800 acres (23 km²) of the current airport with the 17,500 acres (71 km²) of undeveloped land for the future airport, at 23,300 acres (94 km²) Palmdale Airport can be considered one of the largest civilian airports in the world. PMD has two main runways, runways: 4/22, and 7/25, and both are over 2 miles (3 km) long. 7/25 was built to withstand an 8.3 Richter Scale earthquake, making it one of the world's strongest runways.
PMD and Plant 42 are separate facilities that share a common runway at the site. The facility is located in the Antelope Valley, approximately 60 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
The airport covers 5,832 acres (2,360 ha) at an elevation of 2,543 feet (775 m) above mean sea level. It has three runways with concrete surfaces: 4/22 is 12,001 by 150 feet (3,658 x 46 m); 7/25 is 12,002 by 200 feet (3,658 x 61 m); 72/252 is 6,000 by 75 feet (1,829 x 23 m).
During the 1990s, airlines operated out of the Palmdale Regional Airport, which consisted of the terminal and parking lot on leased land. The last airline pulled out in 1998. Los Angeles World Airports [LAWA] owns 17,000 acres east of Plant 42 that was acquired for an airport. The city of Los Angeles bought the land in the 1960s when it planned to build an airport in Palmdale, but the airport was never built. In March 2001 Los Angeles County hired Tri-Star Marketing to prepare the presentations needed to bring air-passenger service back to Palmdale Regional Airport. However, the regional transportation plans formulated by the Southern California Association of Governments focus on having airports in Burbank, Ontario, Irvine and El Toro handle the excess air-passenger service for the Southern California region.
After several airlines were unable to sustain operations at Palmdale, the terminal was remodeled and reopened in May 2007. Convincing airlines of the marketability of the airport without subsidies has been difficult. Although Palmdale Airport offers airline passengers a quicker ground travel time from Sherman Oaks than the LAX airport car trip down the 405 freeway, it has not provided the range of destinations that would make passengers choose it over LAX and Bob Hope Airport. The communities around LAX and Burbank do not want the noise of additional flights, but most Antelope Valley residents support expanding service at Palmdale.
In January 2007 subsidies valued at $4.6 million, with $2 million slated to underwrite losses incurred from providing airline service, were raised to restore commercial service to the airport. The incentive package included a $900,000 grant from the federal government to the city of Palmdale to develop regional airport service.
In February 2007 the city of Palmdale and LAWA selected United Airlines to provide service between Palmdale and San Francisco International Airport. (The only other proposal was from Delta Air Lines to Salt Lake City). The SkyWest Airlines-operated United Express offered twice-daily, regional jet service beginning on June 7, 2007.
Between June 7 and December 31, 2007, the airport served 12,022 passengers, about 58 passengers per day.
On September 3, 2008 the San Francisco service was increased from two 50-seat regional jets to four 30-seat turboprop flights per day. On its September 18 schedule update, United canceled all flights beginning December 7, 2008, the day after the expiration of the federal grant and 18 months after the beginning of the PMD services.
The Blackbird Airpark Museum and the adjacent Palmdale Plant 42 Heritage Airpark (Now "Joe Davies Heritage Airpark") have recently been opened on Plant 42 property along Avenue P (both are free to the public) with displays of the SR-71, U-2, Century Series fighters and other aircraft designed, engineered, manufactured, and flight tested at its facilities.
The Blackbird Airpark Museum is an extension of the AFFTC Museum at Edwards AFB, while the Heritage Airpark is operated by the City of Palmdale. Both are manned by retirees who had previously worked in the aerospace industry, some actually having worked on the aircraft displayed at the two parks. All of the aircraft have been carefully restored for public display. Operating hours of the airparks are the same - Friday through Sunday (except in inclement weather) from 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Pacific Time. On Federal Government holidays both airparks are closed. The two airparks are located at Avenue P and 25th Street East near Site 9.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operates its Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) at its site on Plant 42 by Avenue P and 25th Street East. This center controls and tracks aircraft for the western United States, and covers non-local aircraft communication needs flying over California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. The center's staff, which also is made up of personnel in other locations outside the Antelope Valley, was recognized for outstanding service in the FAA and aviation industry in 2004.
The origins of Palmdale Regional Airport go to the early 1930s, when a small airstrip was built in the desert. It was listed in 1935 documentation as CAA Intermediate #5. It was established by the Bureau of Air Commerce (later the Civil Aeronautics Administration) who maintained a network of emergency landing fields. It provided a pilot in distress with a better alternative than landing on a public road or a farmer's field.
World War II
In 1940, Palmdale Army Airfield was activated as a United States Army Air Corps (later Air Forces) airfield for use as an emergency landing strip and for B-25 Mitchell medium bomber support training during World War II. It was one of many intermediate fields that were used as auxiliary fields or emergency landing fields by the AAF during World War II. Their dispersion along the air routes, their infrequent use, and their U.S. government ownership made them ideal for use by military aircraft. It acted as a sub-base for Muroc Army Airfield and Hammer Army Airfield.
Palmdale Army Airfield was declared a surplus facility in 1946 and was purchased by Los Angeles County for use as a municipal airport. The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 caused the Air Force to reactivate the property for use in final assembly and flight testing of military jet aircraft.
Both the Air Force and its aircraft contractors needed a location away from major population centers - due to sonic booms, other noises and security concerns - but close enough to the major centers of aircraft design and production, while having excellent flying weather the year around. The land which became Plant 42 fit these criteria. Consequently, the Air Force agreed to purchase the land from Los Angeles County in 1951.
Civilian air transport operations
From 1970 to 1983 the Los Angeles Department of Airports, now called Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), acquired about 17,750 acres (72 km2) of land east and south of United States Air Force Plant 42 in unincorporated Los Angeles County to be developed into the future "Palmdale Intercontinental Airport," an alternative to LAX. LAWA has not developed its Palmdale airport land beyond the small airport terminal.
In 1989, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), a department of the City of Los Angeles, and the U.S. Air Force came to an agreement concerning use of the Plant 42 complex's facilities and land for commercial use. The agreement allows a maximum of 400 flights per day.
LAWA has used Plant 42's facilities in past years when at one point in the early 1990s several airlines used the Palmdale Regional Airport terminal sited on Plant 42. This civilian terminal was unused from 1998 to 2004; on December 29, 2004 civilian use resumed when Scenic Airlines began scheduled service to North Las Vegas, Nevada, although that service officially terminated in January 2006. United Airlines began daily service to San Francisco International Airport in June 2007 but suspended flights in December 2008 upon the expiration of grants which subsidized the service.
In late 2008 Palmdale expressed interest in assuming operations at Palmdale Airport, including management of the terminal, taxiways, and parking, from LAWA. LAWA indicated that it was receptive to transferring the lease. Los Angeles wants to retain the land it owns near Palmdale for eventual use as an airport. The city is exploring non-aviation uses for the land, including activities related to energy production.
On February 1, 1991, USAir Flight 1493, a Boeing 737 landing on Runway 24L at LAX, collided upon touchdown with a SkyWest Airlines Fairchild Metroliner, Flight 5569 departing to Palmdale Regional Airport, that had been holding in position on the same runway. The collision killed all 12 occupants of the SkyWest plane and 22 persons aboard the USAir 737.
- FAA Airport Master Record for PMD ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective April 5, 2012.
- Palmdale Regional Airport website
- "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF, 2.03 MB). National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010.
- "Enplanements for CY 2008" (PDF, 1.0 MB). CY 2008 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. December 18, 2009.
- globalsecurity.org plant 42
- "United Airlines selected for Palmdale-Frisco service". LA Daily News. February 2, 2007.
- "L.A. Area Airport Totals for 2007". Long Beach Press Telegram. January 30, 2008.
- "LA/Palmdale Regional Airport To Double Air Service In September". News Release. Los Angeles World Airports. June 18, 2008.
- Black Airpark Museum part of Air Force Flight Test Center Museum
- Palmdale Plant 42 Heritage Airpark
- California World War II airfield database
- (PDF), effective March 6, 2014
- FAA Terminal Procedures for PMD, effective March 6, 2014
- Resources for this airport: