NBAA and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) have submitted comments to the FAA about the proposed shortening of Santa Monica, Calif.’s single runway using an engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) and by implementing declared distances. The proposal would reduce the current 4,973-foot runway length to a landing distance available of 4,741 feet on Runway 21 and 4,156 feet on Runway 3.
According to NATA, “The city should not be attempting to curtail general aviation operations by masking reductions in airport capacity/access as a safety initiative.”
The FAA should adopt a policy, NATA asserted, that safety improvements can’t be used to modify airport capacity or access unless the airport sponsor can show that there is an unacceptable safety margin that could be improved only by curtailing activity or can show that the safety changes are acceptable to the aircraft operator community.
“This [is] another instance in a long history of efforts by the City of Santa Monica to close the airport to jet operations– efforts that NBAA has opposed and the FAA has prevented for more than two decades,” said the association. A 1981 proposal to close Santa Monica Airport resulted in litigation and the 1984 Settlement Agreement, NBAA noted in its comments, “that recognized the binding nature of the grant assurances and under which the city agreed to operate and maintain the airport as a viable functioning facility without derogation of its role as a general aviation reliever…or its capacity in terms of runway length…until July 1, 2015.” With regards to safety, NBAA added, “the use of declared distances is not an optimal operating procedure since it requires pilots to plan on the basis of arbitrary rather than actual runway length.”