FAA Affirms Earlier Decision on Santa Monica Airport Jet Ban

JULY 10, 2009

The Federal Aviation Administration on July 8 upheld an earlier decision by an FAA hearing officer to prevent the city of Santa Monica from banning private jets with fast landing speeds from the municipal airport.

In a 57-page opinion, FAA officials rejected the city's appeal, which contended that it had the power to ban jets for safety reasons and that its policy did not discriminate against types of aeronautical activity.

An injunction against the city’s enforcement of the ordinance issued by the U.S. District Court and upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remains in effect.

City officials challenged a May 14 FAA decision that concluded the controversial jet ban "unjustly and unreasonably" discriminates against specific aircraft (Initial Decision of the Hearing Officer, Anthony Palladino, Docket 16-02-08). The latest decision upholds part of that ruling -- that the ban violates the terms of federal grants received by the airport. Agency officials also said that the city does not have the authority to ban certain types of aircraft.

The city contends that jets with faster landing speeds, such as Gulfstreams, Cessna Citations, and Challengers, are at risk of running off the runway and crashing into surrounding neighborhoods. The FAA hearing officer concluded, however, that such aircraft have never crashed at the airport and their safety record is better than that of propeller planes at the facility.

This latest FAA decision is the end of administrative hearings on the issue of the city's ban. The city now has the option of challenging the FAA decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Source: Based in part on an article in the Los Angeles Times