Efforts to convert the closed El Toro military airport into a commercial airport were dealt another setback Monday when a draft report released by a consultant for the Federal Aviation Administration said the runways and flight paths planned by the county aren’t safe and won’t work efficiently. The county plan calls for commercial passenger jets to depart El Toro to the east and the north. But the report says that’s a risky scheme because flights to the north seem to require “the use of airspace that is not available” in the crowded Southern California skies, and that heavily loaded aircraft bound for the east might not be able to climb fast enough.

The El Toro base, once used by the US Marines, was closed several years ago. While some Orange County residents and businesses want to convert it to a commercial airstrip-a move that could trigger a flurry of new construction in the area–others say it should be preserved as open space or used for other purposes.

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