California Legislature Reignites SMO Ban Controversy

 - August 12, 2008, 11:02 AM
The California state legislature added to the debate about the safety of large jet operations at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) by passing a bill that asks the FAA to abide by the city of Santa Monica’s attempt to bar certain jets from using the airport. The state assembly passed bill AJR 37 in July, and a majority of the senate voted for the bill yesterday. The bill, which is advisory only and carries no legal weight, encourages the FAA to work with the city and other local entities and officials “to honor the decision of the city of Santa Monica to increase safety precautions and restrict the use of Class C and D aircraft at SMO.” Category C and D aircraft have approach speeds above 121 knots, and about 9,000 operations per year are flown by these types at SMO. “The FAA’s position,” according to an agency spokesman, “is that Santa Monica over the years has entered into a number of agreements with the federal government in which it promised to maintain access to the airport for all types of aircraft. It’s also our position that Santa Monica lacks the authority to ban any aircraft from the municipal airport. Federal law is supreme here.”