A Look At The $20 Billion Dollar Floating Airport

By: | July 11th, 2013

London, England and San Diego, USA are two examples of cities running out of space for large public projects like parks, airports and sewage treatment plants and the like. IndustryTap has written about the floating airport designs tested in Tokyo harbor about a decade ago and another built in Osaka Bay. Now the Brits are planning a floating airport for London on the Thames River. What is going on?

San Diego Needs A New Airport

That San Diego needs a new international airport by 2020 or the region will lose up to $100 billion in economic growth is not the question; most agree on this point. And according to a commission charged with remedying the problem there is no suitable land-based site in San Diego.

For the past decade Adam Englund, head of Ocean Works Development, has been planning a $20 billion “Very Large Floating Structure” VLFS that would include an airport and up to 200 million additional square feet of hotels, restaurants, residential space, business space and perhaps a university. The idea is to first build a three square-mile facility permanently moored about 10 miles off the shore of San Diego called O-Plex 2020. Because some of the technology needed to turn the plan into reality is untested, the steep $20 billion tab seems risky and has created skepticism.

The facility will include a dual runway international airport as the anchor tenant. The facility will include renewable ocean energy plants, a desalination facility and over 200 million ft.² for private enterprise. Ocean Works has applied for exclusive rights to airspace in the area, permission from the FAA to conduct business and a green light from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Another local company planning offshore projects for San Diego is Float Inc.

London Britannica Airport

The British plan includes at least four and as many as six 5 km floating runways attached to the seabed. Railway tunnels would be built to deliver passengers to the airport. The plan is being considered because obtaining land through eminent domain or land reclamation would not be necessary as it would be if land based sites were in play.

 Controversy Abounds

There is currently a disagreement as to which plan would serve the UK best. Some prefer to build the airport on reclaimed land, some prefer a floating airport, while others would like to expand Heathrow Airport. As the investment is likely to be 50 billion pounds, the Brits are taking their time deciding what to do.

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David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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