Court Backs FAA Rejection of SMO Big-jet Ban

 - January 25, 2011, 7:59 AM

The U.S. Court of Appeals issued a ruling last Friday that halted the City of Santa Monica’s attempt to ban large jets from using Santa Monica (Calif.) Airport (SMO). The ruling was based on a review of the FAA’s rejection of the city’s ban against category C and D jets, which have approach speeds of 121 knots or more. Only about 7 percent of SMO operations fall into these two categories. The ruling notes that federal airport funds bind the city to grant assurances that require the city to “make its airport available as an airport for public use on fair and reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination to all types, kinds and classes of aeronautical uses.” Airport director Bob Trimborn explained, “The only thing we’ve wanted is appropriate safety areas for the type of aircraft using the airport. All we’re trying to do is conform with federal standards.” The FAA has offered to help pay for porous concrete arresting beds at SMO, but this idea has been bogged down in arguments about how that would affect the utility and safety of the 4,973-foot runway. “The business aviation community welcomes the court’s ruling,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Access to community airports is absolutely critical for companies of all sizes, all across the U.S., and the court’s decision helps ensure that this access will be preserved.”