FAA Fights For Jets At Santa Monica Airport

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Last month, the Santa Monica, Calif., City Council approved a law banning jets with approach speeds between 139 and 191 mph, but a Federal Judge has granted the FAA a temporary restraining order blocking the move. Santa Monica airport saw 18,575 jet operations in 2007. The FAA says that the law is not only unnecessary, but would also significantly harm jet operators and their supporting businesses. The City Council says it acted to protect local residents from jet overruns and acted in accordance with the FAA's own safety standards. In court, the judge asked the city attorney how many aircraft of the type that would be affected by the ban had been involved in overruns at the airport. The answer is none, but that smaller, slower aircraft have been involved in overruns and the city's attorney stated that the results of such an incident involving larger aircraft would be disastrous. The judge responded noting that the larger aircraft in question were flown by professional pilots and were considered safer than smaller private aircraft.

Regardless, the city maintains that the airport does not currently meet the FAA's own standards concerning safety areas at each end of the runway and the ordinance addressed those concerns. Now, a hearing scheduled for May 15 will allow both sides (the city and the FAA) to file additional arguments.