Santa Monica responds to FAA order, calls action unlawful

April 10, 2008

Santa Monica responds to FAA order, calls action unlawful

By AOPA ePublishing staff

In a document that could set the tone for a tough fight over the future of California’s Santa Monica Municipal Airport, the city of Santa Monica has responded to an FAA order to justify a ban on jet traffic by defending its decision and calling the FAA’s actions in the case unlawful and unreasonable.

Following the city’s March 25 vote to ban Category C and D jet traffic from the airport, the FAA initiated a compliance investigation, requiring the city to show cause for its actions. In the opening pages of its response, the city writes, “The council’s action was reasonable, necessary, and lawful. The FAA’s actions are not.” The document goes on to argue that the FAA has exceeded its authority in trying to prevent the ban, claiming that eliminating jets and shortening the single runway to add safety zones are necessary for public safety.

But because the airport is federally obligated, the city cannot restrict access to the field. The FAA has proposed alternative safety measures, such as installing an engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) and moving hold short lines, which would maintain airport access.

“The jet ban is just another back-door attempt by the city to close the airport, and the response to the FAA’s order to show cause makes it clear that the city won’t take no for an answer,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy. “This airport is a critical reliever for Los Angeles International and must remain open. AOPA has fought closure efforts in the past, and we will work with the FAA to fight this one.”

April 10, 2008