New Departure Procedures at Santa Monica Airport

Starting this month, piston-powered planes departing west from Santa Monica Airport (SMO) must turn upon reaching an altitude of 400 feet above sea level, following new FAA departure rules. he previous protocol required a turn at the shoreline, but the new plan is hoped to reduce idling on runways, a problem arising from a safety procedure that times departures from SMO and its airport-neighbor Los Angeles Airport (LAX), and consequently causes delays and pollution. Due to the close proximity between the airports, safety procedures intended to prevent mid-air collisions or conflict can cause delays up to 20 minutes.

“This will keep SMO departures on a parallel path with LAX departures, and they will maintain the required 3-mile distance from LAX departures at all times, thus eliminating the need to hold departures at either airport,” said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

Piston-planes are affected by this change because of their slower flying speed, and more powerful jets and turboprops will not be required to make the change.

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