Battle lines drawn over access to Santa Monica

April 1, 2008

Battle lines drawn over access to Santa Monica

By AOPA ePublishing staff

After the Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously on March 25 to ban jet traffic from Santa Monica Municipal Airport, the FAA immediately filed a court order requiring the city to justify its actions.

The city has cited safety concerns as a motivator for banning Category C and D jets starting April 24. Part of the city’s plan also includes shortening the single runway to add safety areas to both ends.

“AOPA supports airport safety, but this ban does nothing to increase safety for aircraft or neighborhoods around the airport,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports. “This is a just another thinly veiled attempt by the city to ultimately close the airport. We strongly support the FAA’s firm stance against the groundless ban.”

Because Santa Monica is a federally obligated airport, the city can’t restrict access to it. The FAA has suggested safety measures—like installing an engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) and moving hold short lines—that would not restrict aircraft operating at the airport. The agency also is working to move the PEEER RNAV departure that conflicted with departures from Los Angeles International. This would cut down on jet idle times while waiting for clearance to take off.

“We’ve fought to keep Santa Monica open and accessible for decades, and we’re not about to stop now,” said Dunn. “Cities can’t bend federal laws to satisfy their own wants.”

April 1, 2008