The FAA has determined that a city ordinance banning jets from Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) in California “unjustly and unreasonably” discriminates against certain aircraft. City officials are expected to appeal the FAA decision. If the decision is not reversed, the city will likely file an appeal in federal court.
Santa Monica officials contend the ban on C and D category jets is a safety issue because the airport does not have runway safety zones. Some homes and businesses are within 300 feet of the extended runway centerline.
The airport, built before jet aircraft were invented, sits on a bluff. There is no space to build runway safety zones without shortening the usable runway.
The FAA’s position is that the ordinance violates grant assurances to make the airport available to all means of aviation. If the city does not comply with those assurances, the airport could become ineligible for future grants and, in an extreme case, could be forced to pay back at least part of the money. Over the years the airport has accepted approximately $10 million in federal grants.