FAA Showdown With Santa Monica

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We've reported periodically on the battle between Santa Monica City Council and the FAA on the ongoing tussle over the city's plans to ban Class C and D jets (approach speed of more than 120 knots) from using the ultra-convenient reliever facility near the heart of Los Angeles. The FAA has obtained a temporary injunction and the full court hearing is Thursday. California's first family has even been drawn into the scrap. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's GIV would be banned, extending the governator's almost daily commute from his Brentwood home to the airport by longer than it takes to fly the trip. It's interesting to note that his brother-in-law Bobby Schriver is on Santa Monica council and is backing the ban. But while celebrities tend to grab the limelight in this issue, well-known aviation writer and speaker Barry Schiff, who's also chairman of the Santa Monica Airport Association, told AVweb in a podcast interview that there are a lot of issues for regular pilots and owners, too.

Schiff said the current controversy has its roots in the 1980s when the council of the day took a look at the real estate and decided there was a more profitable use for it. Between the local pilots and the FAA, attempts to close the airport were thwarted and there was a guarantee to keep it open until at least 2015. However, successive councils have chipped away at the usefulness of the facility, especially by those who aren't super rich, and the speed limit on approaches is just the latest gambit. Schiff said that whatever happens in court on Thursday won't be the last word on Santa Monica Airport's future.