Image by Robin Pierre

TRAFFIC AT REID HILLVIEW

Reid Hillview Airport is an incredibly busy airport, and helps to take away traffic from other airports throughout the Bay Area.

The government organization which presides over civil aviation in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, has designated Reid Hillview Airport as a reliever for San Jose Norman Y Mineta International Airport (SJC). 

Reid Hillview Airport most recently hosted 208, 260 operations in 2019, or around 569 operations per day, and these numbers have been on the rise since 2014! To put that number into perspective, Reid Hillview was the 58th busiest airport in the United States, with San Jose Mineta, an international airport with regularly scheduled passenger service by some of the largest airlines in the world, ranked 59th.

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An overhead perspective of the former general aviation runway at SJC, Runway 11-29, that is now only a taxiway, paralleling Runway 30R and Runway 30L.

Several other airports are within a 30 mile radius of Reid Hillview, including San Martin Airport, San Jose Mineta Airport, Palo Alto Airport, Moffett Federal Airfield, and Hayward Airport.

 

Many of these airports already have in excess of 300 daily operations, or do not have the facilities which Reid Hillview provides. An example, San Martin Airport, which is a popular suggestion of being a replacement for Reid Hillview, is an uncontrolled, non-towered airport with only a singular runway. As it stands, it currently handles approximately 37,000 annual operations but it could accommodate every single hangered aircraft at Reid Hillview. Should such a scenario take place, San Martin could become the 40th busiest airport in the nation! That's more than Chicago Midway or Dallas Love Field handles!

An uncontrolled airport with a single runway couldn't handle such a strain, and the operations would significantly jeopardize safety for pilots, people, and property.

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An Embraer E170 pushing back for a flight. This commercial aircraft is typical of those used by regional airlines who land at SJC, such as Horizon or Skywest.

While around the 1970s, a new runway dedicated to general aviation opened at San Jose, Runway 11-29. However, for the past 10 years or so, this runway has been closed to all traffic, and has been reduced to use as a taxiway, unavailable for takeoffs or landings.

Currently, general aviation is not the most welcome at San Jose mainly because of the differences that exist between the general aviation aircraft and jet transport airliners at San Jose. The slow operating speeds of these generally smaller Cessna 172s and Piper Warriors fly at around 60-80 miles per hour while these transport jets travel along at 140 miles per hour! Their large size and high speeds means that there has to be a great deal of spacing between them, which would make operations inefficient, dangerous, and threaten the efficacy of the airport as a transportation hub.

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Another Bay Area airport, San Carlos, or SQL, located along the peninsula approximately 20 miles from Reid Hillview, is equipped with only one runway. Its sister airport, Palo Alto, located just to the south, similarly has only one runway. These airports currently handle 318 and 525 daily operations, respectively.