Santa Monica, FAA Spar Over Airport Traffic Patterns

New IFR Departure Procedure Is Basis For Complaints
The city of Santa Monica is not happy about new IFR departure procedures being tested by the FAA at Santa Monica Airport (KSMO), and says it will “aggressively pursue all avenues” to force the FAA to conduct a full environmental impact study before any change is made permanent. The FAA began a 6 month test in December of potential new departure patterns at KSMO. The previous procedure had GA airplanes flying to the coastline before making a 40 degree Northwest turn. Several of the new patterns being tested move that turn to a point over Penmar Golf Course, which then take the aircraft over a residential neighborhood near the Santa Monica Pier. It is those residents who in large part have raised the objections about the proposed change.

The Santa Monica Mirror reports that the FAA implemented the test period without conducting a formal public briefing which the city had requested. In a statement released late last week, the city said it “will not accept such disregard of the City and its residents in the future.” ““The City insists on the inclusion of the City and its residents in reviewing any proposed change before final departure procedures are decided,” it says.

The tests are being conducted due to the proximity of KSMO to KLAX. It falls within the provisions of the National Environmental Protection Act, and the study will help determine if a change in the IFR departure pattern will ease departure delays at both airports.



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Babbitt Hears From Waxman Over Santa Monica Airport Flight Path Experiment

Calls On Administrator To Stop Testing On Changes To GA IFR Departure Procedures

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) (pictured, below) has sent a letter to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt saying the agency should “immediately suspend” testing of new GA IFR departure procedures at Santa Monica airport (KSMO).

Waxman was responding to complaints from local residents near the airport. He also joined neighborhood activists and Santa Monica city officials in criticizing the FAA for not holding public hearings before beginning the flight-path experiment. In the letter, Waxman said “(a) test with such far-reaching impacts requires adequate public education and outreach. Yet, the FAA did not make presentations to the Santa Monica Airport Commission or to communities living in the vicinity of the airport before the test was initiated. Furthermore, despite a request from the City of Santa Monica, no public outreach program was conducted once the test commenced. The lack of public outreach as these decision are made is unacceptable.”

The new IFR departure procedures for GA airplanes takes them over residential housing near the Santa Monica Pier, rather than a direct route to the ocean before turning north. The Santa Monica Daily Press reports that the procedures account for about 10 operations per day, on average. Residents are complaining about the “increased noise” from the departing airplanes.

An FAA spokesman said the agency was reviewing the letter, and would respond as appropriate.

The FAA and airport officials say they are looking at procedures for IFR departures that will relieve congestion and delays at both KSMO and Los Angeles International.