California Department of Transportation

Physical Address:
Department of Transportation
Division of Aeronautics
1120 N Street, Room 3300
Sacramento, CA 95814

Mailing Address:
Department of Transportation
Division of Aeronautics,
MS 40 P. O. Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001

Shipping Address:
1415 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

General Information:
Fax - 916.653.9531



Ground and Airspace Safety

CASP - ACRP Book covers

A fundamental concern in achieving airport land use compatibility involves safety in the air and within the vicinity of the airport. Aircraft accidents happen infrequently, but the consequences can be severe. The concept of risk is central to the assessment of safety compatibility. The overall objective of safety compatibility is to minimize risks associated with potential aircraft accidents. There are two components to this strategy - safety of people and property on the ground and the protection of navigable airspace from hazardous obstructions to ensure the safety of aircraft occupants. The primary ground strategy is to limit the intensity of use by minimizing residential and non-residential densities and activities that attract people in locations most susceptible to an off-airport aircraft accident. Certain risk-sensitive uses, such as schools and hospitals, and aboveground storage of flammable or hazardous materials, should be avoided regardless of the number of people involved.

As California continues to support and explore sustainable energy solutions, the siting of energy solutions in the wrong location can be extremely hazardous to some aviation operations. The Division is working with the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) to help site potentially unsafe projects near airports to minimize their adverse effects upon flight or airport operational safety. Both agencies are committed to supporting alternative energy solutions and doing so in a manner that does not put life or property in jeopardy. The primary strategy is to prevent the intrusion of navigable airspace by the construction of structures or creation of thermal plumes that penetrate the imaginary surfaces that encircle an airport. This is a serious threat to pilot and passenger safety and may adversely impact the scope of aviation operations. For further information, we recommend the Transportation Research Board, Airport Cooperative Research Program’s Synthesis Report 28 Investigating Safety Impacts of Energy Technologies on Airports and Aviation or you can visit the CEC’s website Siting, Transmission and Environmental Protection. In addition, it is important that natural and built objects do not penetrate the navigable airspace. In order to protect the airspace around airports, structures should be designed to ensure that they do not intrude present or future proscribed airspace. Other potential hazards to aircraft in navigable airspace of national concern are manufactured obstructions to navigable airspace (e.g. meteorological towers or wind turbines), as well as wildlife near runways, and in flight bird strikes.

For additional information on federal regulations regarding airspace safety, refer to: Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 77 and the California Public Utilities Code Sections 21658 and 21659.

Last Updated: December 20, 2013