A lawyer representing NBAA and other parties yesterday urged a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to void the January 2017 agreement between the FAA and city of Santa Monica, California. The deal allows the city to shorten the runway and provides the option to close the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) after 2028.
According to NBAA, the FAA exceeded its authority when making the “secret, one-of-its-kind” deal by defying the laws set by Congress, in addition to the FAA's guiding principles. During yesterday’s oral arguments in the case, NBAA and the other parties argued that overturning the settlement is the “right legal outcome, given that the agreement runs afoul of five legal requirements.”
Before the city and the FAA reached the agreement, the FAA had maintained that the city's obligation to preserve SMO lasted in perpetuity based on obligations included in a 1948 surplus-property deed.
In its court filings, NBAA said the FAA offered no explanation for the agreement; failed to engage the public, including airport users and tenants; did not comply with the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990; and violated several other statutes. The appeals court panel is expected to issue a ruling later this year.