Santa Monica attracts more attention

 - October 1, 2009, 6:28 AM

ttle at Southern California’s Santa Monica Airport, which is trying to ban approach category C and D aircraft from operating at the airport. The City of Santa Monica is planning to appeal the latest FAA decision, which again rejected the ban.

Meanwhile, two members of Congress wrote a letter to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt urging the agency to “enter into good faith discussions with the City of Santa Monica to achieve runway safety area solutions consistent with FAA guidelines to address safety concerns at Santa Monica Airport.” The letter from Henry Waxman and Jane Harman (both California Democrats) reiterates long-standing concerns about the airport held by the city and nearby neighbors.
“Built in 1922, the airport has no runway safety areas, which are now required by the FAA to reduce damage and loss of life in the event that an aircraft overshoots the runway or fails to lift off. The airport’s single runway is bordered by steep
hills, public streets and densely populated neighborhoods on both sides, with homes as close as 250 feet from the runway. As flight traffic at the airport has increased over the years, particularly among larger jets, so have concerns that any accident not contained by the runway would pose a great risk to the surrounding
neighborhood,” the letter says.

The letter cites two “serious accidents” that occurred this year, implying that the requested safety improvements might have somehow helped reduce the severity of the crashes. In fact, both accidents occurred to light aircraft that suffered engine failure on takeoff, and both aircraft crashed onto airport property. During the past 20 years, the largest aircraft to crash near the airport was a Piper Navajo in 1994, which hit a utility pole and residential garage after taking off with the fuel selector set to an empty tank, killing the pilot. According to the NBAA, “The court has not yet scheduled a briefing or hearing for the city’s appeal.”