In the wake of a decision by the city council of Santa Monica, Calif., not to pursue an appeal in a lawsuit against the FAA, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President and CEO Craig Fuller sent a letter June 2 to Mayor Richard Bloom, applauding the move. “This decision will allow the city of Santa Monica, the FAA, and other stakeholders to return to a meaningful discussion of how best to ensure safe operations at the airport,” wrote Fuller.
The city had passed an ordinance in 2008 banning Category C and D jets at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), but the FAA weighed in, preventing the city from enforcing it. Santa Monica officials appealed the decision; in January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the city’s petition.
While the battle at Santa Monica intensified within the last three years, the city initially sought to ban jets larger than Category B-II in 1979. With the renewed effort to prohibit jets at the airport, officials cited safety concerns as the motivation. AOPA officials have long maintained that banning aircraft isn’t the right approach.
“As the city of Santa Monica pursues other avenues in discussing safety at SMO, we hope your first option will be to sit down with all interested parties to discuss these issues,” Fuller said. “AOPA offers to work with you, the FAA, and all other stakeholders in such an effort. Together, we should be able to plan a future for the airport that addresses legitimate community concerns, allows the city to meet its obligations as the airport sponsor, and preserves SMO’s role as a vital part of the Southern California and national aviation systems. General aviation pilots have a strong desire to be good neighbors, and nowhere more so than at SMO.”
During an April meeting with the Friends of Santa Monica Municipal Airport in April, Fuller saw pilots’ dedication to the airport first hand. More than 100 members of the group attended the meeting to learn how to build support for the airport in the local community.
AOPA officials note that Santa Monica Municipal Airport has received federal grants, which means it must remain open and abide by “fair and reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination, to all types, kinds, and classes of aeronautical uses.”