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Prompt resolution sought for Santa Monica approach obstructionsPrompt resolution sought for Santa Monica approach obstructions

AOPA is working to assure that obstructions limiting use of existing and soon-to-be-published instrument approaches at California’s Santa Monica Municipal Airport are mitigated promptly, and that an expected prohibition on night use of the procedures is lifted once the hazards are removed.

Santa Monica Municipal AirportDuring a recent airport study, the FAA identified several obstructions that penetrate the 20:1 slope, or visual surface area, of approaches to Santa Monica Municipal Airport’s Runways 3/21. Obstructions that penetrate the 20:1 slope require an airport operator to mitigate the safety hazard via an FAA-approved compliance plan, said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic.

One of two Runway 21 obstructions, a tree, has been removed. Removal of a second obstruction, a light pole, is expected soon, according to the FAA.

“The Runway 3 situation is more challenging because a homeowner with a penetrating tree has not allowed the city to take action,” Duke said.

Identifying the obstructions was expected to generate a notice to airmen restricting the airport’s single existing instrument approach, a VOR or GPS-A procedure, to “NA at night” (not authorized at night), Duke said. (This version of the approach was valid through Sept. 15.)

Also, three new RNAV approaches for Santa Monica, to be published Nov. 10, include the note “NA at night” as currently drafted. An updated version of the existing VOR or GPS-A approach also will be published at that time, with GPS dropped from its title, he said.

Removal of the light pole, if done as expected the week of Sept. 19, should result in cancellation of any notam published restricting night utilization of instrument approaches to Runway 21, Duke said. 

If the new approaches are published with the “NA at night” note, removal of the obstructions on the expected timeline would generate a later notam permitting use of the procedures at night, he explained.

“Procedures for Runway 3 likely will not be authorized at night until the tree is lowered,” he said.

A circling-only procedure would bear the note "Night landing: RWY 3 NA," as was most recently charted for the circling-only procedure.

AOPA is in contact with the FAA on Santa Monica’s obstruction-mitigation plan and the proposed timeline, and will remain involved to ensure that pilots have night IFR access to Santa Monica Municipal Airport, Duke said.

AOPA has published this resource to explain the 20:1 airport obstruction hazard and how the mitigation process works based on a three-level assessment of the risk posed by individual obstructions.

“AOPA has been working on the 20:1 obstruction issue through an RTCA working group to ensure that the FAA is reasonable in its strategy for reviewing and remedying 20:1 slope penetrations nationwide," Duke said. "We emphasize that remedies must be risk-based.”

Topics: Advocacy, Airport Advocacy

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