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L.A. City Council Seeks To Close Flight Schools

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Responding to complaints from residents about noise and fumes from the Santa Monica Airport, members of the Los Angeles City Council have asked lobbyists in Washington to pressure the FAA to close all five flight schools at the field, change a flight path, and ultimately shut down the airport. The airport is one of the oldest in the region, and over the years residential areas have encroached on the field. "They knew they were moving into a house near an airport, and it cost a little less," Stuart Cook, owner of Skyway Aviation, told the L.A. Business Journal. "It's kind of scary to think they're trying to close the flight schools. We train a lot of pilots that go on to work at airlines." The airport handles about 285 operations a day, and due to local congestion, private jets often spend a lot of time idling on the runway. The flight path changes aim to address that.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says the agency is evaluating whether to change the departure procedures. "Preliminary results from a six-month test of the proposed heading [change] showed that assigning it to an average of just eight aircraft a day significantly reduced departure delays at both Santa Monica and LAX," Gregor told the local Argonaut newspaper. He also said the operators of the airport have accepted federal grants that would prevent them from evicting the flight schools "without just cause." Last July, a pilot who was practicing touch-and-goes died when his Cessna 152 crashed on a local golf course, adding to neighbors' concerns about airport safety. "It makes no sense to have training in an urban environment," said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. "My ultimate hope is that the flight path can be changed and this airport can eventually be shut down."

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