County of Marin - News Releases - Gnoss Field Runway Extension

For Immediate Release
February 16, 2018

FAA Verifies Gnoss Field Runway Extension

Federal officials release new report pertaining to potential County Airport project

San Rafael, CA – The potential length of a long-planned runway extension at Marin County Airport in Novato, known by most as Gnoss Field, has been approved by the Federal Aviation Commission (FAA) after more than two years of review. To accommodate aircraft that require more distance to operate, the agency has recommended a 300-foot extension to the 3,300-foot runway, not the 1,100 feet originally proposed 20 years ago in Gnoss Field’s Master Plan.

A small jet plane takes off from Gnoss Field.A Cessna Citation Latitude jet takes off from Gnoss Field in Novato.
Coming to the same conclusion it did in May 2016, the FAA verified the necessary runway length to be 3,600 feet and the agency released a new report on February 16 detailing its recommendation. A public meeting on March 20 will be jointly hosted by the FAA and Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) staff to present the new report and give an overall update on the project. The 7 p.m. meeting will be in the Board of Supervisors chamber (Suite 330) of the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael.

Marin County’s runway extension project proposed to extend the runway’s length from 3,300 feet to 4,400 feet. That length was identified in the final environmental impact statement released in 2014, but the FAA’s May 2016 update reduced the recommended extension to 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 that use the runway. On May 18, 2017, the FAA held a public workshop about how it would reevaluate its recommendation and gather specific usage data from pilots who operate out of Gnoss Field.

Upon review of the new information, the FAA determined that a runway longer than 3,600 feet is indeed not required and verified the findings of its original recommendation. The FAA will incorporate the results of the study into the final environmental impact statement, which is scheduled for completion in May 2020.

While the extension is significantly less than the original vision from the Master Plan, a 3,600-foot runway still would allow for a wider range of aircraft to operate out of Gnoss Field. Funding for the extension project has not yet been identified, but adhering to the FAA length recommendation would open up the possibility of federal grants for the project. The resulting runway improvement would enable the airport to remain an operationally viable and financially self-sustaining DPW entity for years to come.

Gnoss Field, located just north of downtown Novato on the eastern side of Highway 101, handles about 85,500 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. The airport’s 50-year-old runway recently underwent a renovation project, which was an entirely separate effort from the proposed extension project.

The FAA’s public comment period will be open from February 16 until April 6. Comments should be submitted to Doug Pomeroy at the FAA via email or mailed to:

Attn: Doug Pomeroy

Federal Aviation Administration

San Francisco Airports District Office

1000 Marina Boulevard, Suite 220

Brisbane, CA 94005


Robert Goralka
Principal Civil Engineer
Public Works

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