FAA Challenges Santa Monica Jet Ban

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Despite repeated warnings from the FAA that it has no intention of letting Santa Monica get away with it, the city council there has effectively shortened the single runway at Santa Monica Airport by declaring stretches of pavement at each end as runway safety areas (RSAs). That will effectively shorten the runway to the point where Category C (approach speed of greater than 120 knots) and larger aircraft wonít be able to use the runway. According to the city, that will cut 9,000 operations a year at the airport. Now, SMO doesnít have RSAs and the FAA normally encourages and even mandates RSAs at other airports but thereís plenty of wiggle room in determining how much safety is practical.

In this case, the FAA says 275 feet of overrun area at the west end of the runway is enough while the city wants at least 435 feet on each end to safeguard neighboring residents. The FAA says the cityís plan will affect the utility of the airport, which it says is an important reliever for LAX and, besides, it says determining the safety of the airport is its job. The FAA has taken legal action against the city alleging itís violating its agreement with the Feds on operating the airport by instituting the ban.