County of Marin - News Releases - Gnoss Field Runway

For Immediate Release
May 10, 2017

Gnoss Airport Runway Length to be Reassessed

Federal officials to present methodology for reviewing decision for Novato facility

San Rafael, CA – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be reassessing its May 2016 recommendation about the proposed runway extension at Marin County’s Gnoss Field airport in Novato as well as updating the overall status of the longstanding project. 

Two planes sit on a runway at Gnoss Field in Novato.Gnoss Field's runway is 3,300. An extension has been in the planning stages for many years.

The FAA’s public workshop on Thursday, May 18, will include discussion about the methodology for an upcoming assessment that will reevaluate the planned extension of the airfield’s runway. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 330, San Rafael. The Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW), which operates and manages the airport, will have personnel at the meeting as well.  

Marin County’s runway extension project, which is consistent with the 1997 update to the Airport Master Plan, originally proposed to extend the runway’s length from 3,300 feet to 4,400 feet. While that new length was identified in the final environmental impact statement released in 2014, the FAA issued an update in May 2016 that reduced the recommended runway extension length to only 300 feet. The adjustment was made after a study showed a reduced number of existing and forecasted takeoffs and landings from aircraft that require longer runways.

However, the May 2016 update received comments from the public that the FAA may have underestimated the amount of activity by more demanding or critical aircraft. The pilots using the airport most often fly small planes including small jets (with wing spans less than 49 feet), multi- and single-engine turboprops and multi- and single-engine piston planes. Each plane type has different engines and design criteria. Some of these aircraft have specific or preferred runway landing lengths. Airport usage on a regular basis by these more demanding aircraft could warrant a longer runway extension than the May 2016 recommendation.

The May 18 workshop will provide information about how the FAA will examine previous assumptions and include an opportunity for pilots and aircraft owners to offer detailed documentation about their aviation activity. The FAA will also explain the process by which it will review the information and issue an updated report at a later time for further public comment. 

Gnoss Field, located just north of downtown Novato on the eastern side of Highway 101, handles about 97,000 flight operations per year and is a popular destination for both business and pleasure pilots. The airport occupies 120 acres and is open 24 hours a day. 


Robert Goralka
Principal Civil Engineer
Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive.
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-3076
Email: Robert Goralka
DPW website