Santa Monica Jet Ban Not Upheld By FAA

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The FAA Thursday announced that a local city ordinance that bans C and D aircraft with approach speeds between 139 and 191 mph "unjustly and unreasonably" discriminates against certain aircraft, meaning the ordinance may be headed to federal court. The city's position is that by allowing the faster jets, the FAA is not following its own safety recommendations for runway safety zones as it applies to airport traffic and neighboring residential properties currently sitting some 300 feet from the runway threshold. The FAA's position is that the ordinance violates the city's obligation to make the airport available to all types and classes of aeronautical activity, which became relevant when the airport accepted nearly $10 million of federal grants. Thursday's decision follows a legal order obtained by the FAA that blocks the city from enacting the ordinance. City officials were expecting that and are likely to file an appeal with the FAA, which it appears they will lose. At that point, the city may file an appeal in federal court.

Traffic at Santa Monica, a single-runway airport just north of LAX, has tripled over the last fifteen years, growing from under 5,000 jet operations in 1994 to more than 15,000 in 2008. The airport has had noise-abatement procedures in place and noise-monitoring systems under contract. In April, the Santa Monica Airport acting airport director recommended that the mayor and city council execute a five-year contract not to exceed $242,261 for maintenance and support of the noise-monitoring system.