San Diego Business Journal

Proposed New Airline in Carlsbad Clears First FAA Hurdle

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The operator of the proposed California Pacific Airlines, aiming to offer service out of Carlsbad, has received the first in a series of federal clearances required to attain certification as a commercial air carrier. A company official said a final decision on its status is not expected for six to seven months.

President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence A. “Bud” Sittig said by phone Sept. 13 that the company received a status update Sept. 9 from the Federal Aviation Administration, indicating that the planned airline’s general maintenance and operating manuals have been approved.

He said the next step will be a “page-by-page” review of the manuals by the federal agency, expected to be completed later this year, followed around January by a review of the physical layout of one of the company’s planes.

Sittig said that will be followed by oral exams of company management and personnel, to see how they respond to service and flight situational issues, and FAA inspectors will then fly with company personnel to proposed destinations, without passengers, to see how the airline functions during service.

If no significant problems arise, Sittig said the company anticipates final certification around April 2012.

Plans for the new airline have been developed over the past two years by its founder, nonagenarian entrepreneur Ted Vallas. Flights would operate out of the county-run McClellan-Palomar Airport, with initial destinations including Las Vegas, Oakland, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Jose and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

California Pacific would initially use twin-engine, Brazilian-built Embraer 170 jet aircraft seating 70 passengers. Vallas said in June that the company has spent more than $2.5 million to date developing safety, maintenance and operating documents.

— Lou Hirsh