FAA Hands Down Decision on Santa Monica Airport Ban on Fast-landing Jets

MAY 15, 2009

Santa Monica City officials are mulling over their diminishing options this morning after losing a crucial round in their bid to ban fast-landing private jets from Santa Monica Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration found in a 114-page decision released Thursday that the ordinance banning private jets with fast landing speeds violates the city's legal obligations. The decision was based on evidence presented during a four-day hearing in March.

Anthony N. Palladino, a senior FAA attorney and hearing officer, concluded that the ban violates the terms of $9.7 million in federal grants received by the airport and a 1984 agreement between the city and the federal government to give final authority over safety issues to the FAA, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Palladino also decided that the restriction does not comply with the federal Surplus Property Act, which provided for the airport's return to the city under certain conditions after it was leased by the government during World War II, according to The Times.

Approved by the Santa Monica City Council in late 2007, the ban prohibits private and corporate jets with landing speeds of 139 mph to 191 mph from using the airport. Though there has never been a crash, city officials argue the planes could run off the runway.

The ordinance has never gone into effect, however, because of a cease- and-desist order issued by the FAA and a preliminary injunction upheld earlier this week by a federal appeals court.

Palladino's decision can be appealed to an FAA associate administrator for policy, who would have to decide the matter by July 8, The Times reported. The ruling would constitute the FAA's final decision, which could then be appealed in federal court.

Source: Based on report at

See related information:

FAA Decision May 14, 2009 (very large PDF file at City of Santa Monica website - 5.5 MB)

History and documents of dispute with FAA