The U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit has referred an agreement by the FAA and the city of Santa Monica, California, to close Santa Monica Municipal Airport to a merits panel for further review about the legality of the settlement agreement.
This May 4, 2017, ruling defers the FAA’s motion for dismissal of the review, according to officials with the National Business Aviation Association.
However, the court denied NBAA’s request for a stay and an injunction to keep the city from shortening the runway at SMO.
The agreement between the FAA and Santa Monica calls for the airport to be closed by Dec. 31, 2028. In the meantime, the FAA gave the city the go-ahead to shorten the sole runway from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet, effectively restricting the type of aircraft that can use the airport.
NBAA’s first filing on the matter, submitted Feb. 13, sought for the appeals court to review the underlying legality of the agreement between the FAA and Santa Monica. NBAA argues that the FAA failed to follow established procedures when issuing the settlement order, including consideration of its detrimental effects to operators and businesses at the airport, and to the National Airspace System. The FAA later filed a motion to dismiss that petition.
The association’s second filing, submitted March 6, requested a stay against the FAA, and an injunction against the city of Santa Monica, to restrict any near-term efforts to shorten SMO’s runway while the court reviews the settlement agreement.
Other parties to both filings include the Santa Monica Airport Association, two airport-based businesses, Bill’s Air Center and Kim Davidson Aviation, and Redgate Partners and Wonderful Citrus, two companies that frequently use SMO.
The appeals court’s May 4 order grants the city’s motion to intervene and denies the motion from NBAA and the others for a stay and an injunction.
However, of greater importance according to NBAA officials, the order also refers the case to a merits panel for further review about the legality of the settlement agreement, in the process deferring the FAA’s motion for dismissal of the review.
“This order, which recognizes our call to review the underlying case on the settlement agreement, makes clear that the court holds steadfast on the need for a thorough and fair hearing about this unprecedented situation,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “For decades, NBAA has pursued all potential avenues for preserving business aviation access to Santa Monica Municipal Airport, and we will continue to exercise every remaining option for doing so.”