Despite ongoing litigation by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and other parties, the city of Santa Monica, California, is moving forward with a runway shortening project at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), starting Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.
SMO’s single runway will be reduced from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet, with the project expected to be complete by the end of this year.Phase 1 runway closures will take place from Oct. 9 to Dec. 20. The airport will be closed to all aircraft, including helicopters, nightly from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Friday, during this period.
During Phase 2, which runs Dec. 20 to Dec. 30, SMO will be closed entirely.
“NBAA has battled for decades to keep SMO open and accessible to business aviation – and we will continue to do so – despite the city’s efforts to destroy one of our nation’s valuable reliever airports,” said Alex Gertsen, NBAA director of airports and infrastructure. “The runway shortening is authorized under the terms of the unique and highly questionable settlement agreement announced in January between the city and the FAA.”
Earlier this year, NBAA challenged the legality of the agreement in the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit. NBAA has argued that the FAA failed to follow basic statutory requirements when issuing the settlement order, including consideration of its detrimental effects on operators and businesses at the airport, and to the National Airspace System.
In May, the court rejected FAA’s attempt to dismiss the case, and directed a full briefing of the issues, which is in progress, with an argument before a panel of judges expected early next year.
A decision is not expected until mid- to late 2018. Should NBAA prevail, the city will be obligated to restore the runway, NBAA officials note.
At the time of the court’s May decision, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said: “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. 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.”
Other parties to NBAA’s legal filings regarding SMO 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 operators that frequently utilize SMO.