Victorville (Calif.) Woos Business Aviation

 - October 18, 2006, 12:41 PM

The Los Angeles area is not known for its friendliness to business aviation. High population densities and low tolerance for jet noise make it a challenge for anyone who wants to operate anywhere near the L.A. Basin. The airport department of the city of Victorville thinks it can help and sees attracting business aviation businesses as a good deal for the city.

Even those promoting the idea concede that Victorville (VCV), formerly George AFB, is not a destination airport. It’s about a 100-mile drive from Los Angeles International Airport, directly adjacent to Highway 15 north of San Bernardino. That’s the bad news. The good news is the airport has two intercontinental-length runways (15,050 feet and 9,168 feet); a 24/7 control tower and Class D airspace; U.S. port-of-entry status; 24/7 customs service; Index E crash, fire and rescue; no noise or curfew restrictions; jet fuel delivered via pipeline (no trucking necessary); security certified to TSA 1542 standard; and no ATC-generated delays. An airport spokesman added another positive for Victorville. He said, “You can afford to live there, unlike so many cities in southern California.”

Victorville is currently home to significant airline-maintenance and cargo activity (A through D checks on virtually all Boeing and Airbus models), but the city would like to increase its appeal to corporate operators. The spokesman said the facility has much to offer Part 91 transient operators; fractional and fleet operations; and individual corporate flight departments looking for a home base of operations.

For transients, he said, making a tech stop at VCV eliminates the traffic congestion of the busier L.A. airports and provides fast customs service. For transpacific flights, the long runways enable max-weight takeoffs, despite the field elevation of 2,885 feet.

Victorville didn’t invent the idea of basing a corporate flight department at an out-of-town airport and re-positioning for passenger pickup and drop-off. But the theory applies, with the following advantages: plentiful, inexpensive storage space to park and stage aircraft; no Stage 2 noise restriction; reasonable cost of living for crewmembers; and access to heavy maintenance for bizliners such as BBJs and ACJs.

Fractional or Part 135 fleet operators could also find all of those features attractive, as well as VCV’s proximity to other major “destination” airports that charter customers would want to reach, such as Las Vegas. The spokesman said the airport has at least half a dozen 25-acre parcels with immediate runway access. The sites would be ideal sites for corporate-size hangar/office complexes, and build-to-suit opportunities are available from the city. There are also larger land parcels available for larger flight operations or aviation businesses that would benefit from an on-airport site.