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Jet Operations and Related Noise Violations Rise at Santa Monica Airport


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 24, 2017 -- While the total number of flights at Santa Monica airport has dropped dramatically in the past year, jet traffic is at a ten-year high, according to data presented to the Airport Commission Monday night.

Jet operations at Santa Monica Airport jumped nine percent in September over the same month last year and were tied to all violations of the City’s noise limits, which also reached a five-year high, airport officials said.

Both a new monthly report on operations at SMO and one tracking operations over the last decade show significant increases in jet traffic.

The increase has spurred neighborhood furor over noise, pollution and potential safety hazards that prompted an agreement to close the airport by the end of 2028 (“City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028,” January 28, 2017).

To ward off jets in the meantime, the City is set to start work on reducing the sole runway from almost 5,000 feet in length to 3,500 ("Shortening of Santa Monica Airport Runway to Start Monday," October 19, 2017).

The reports were presented to the City’s Airport Commission at Monday's meeting.

Take offs and landings at SMO last year totaled 87,904, down 30 percent from 127,036 operations in 2007, the annual report by Airport Director Stelios Makrides said.

Yet jet use at SMO has mostly risen, reaching 17,338 operations last year, or 20 percent of the total, the report said.

It marks the highest level of jet use since 2007, when the total was 18,575, Makrides said.

Propeller aircraft still comprise two-thirds of air traffic but has dropped to 67,500 operations in 2016, from a 2007 high of 105,331 such operations, he said.

Noise violations totaled 137 in 2016, a decrease of 12 percent, the 2016 annual report said.

Most involved jets, and most were first-time offenses, it said.

During 2016, 29 aircraft received monetary fines, which are issued to repeat offenders (who get a warning first) and range from $2,000 to $10,000 before bans or other restrictions on using SMO are imposed.

One aircraft was banned.

The report focusing on SMO operations last month showed 7,440 operations, a six percent decrease from 7,884 operations in September of 2016.

Propeller aircraft accounted for about 5,632 operations, or 76 percent of the total, in September. It was a nine percent drop from the same month in 2015.

Jet operations totaled 1,534 in September, up about 11 percent from 1,380 operations the previous September.

Nearly all aircraft complied with the City’s noise-restricting law last month, but of the 16 which did not, all were jets -- and the total was a highest in five years.

Eight violated the noise ordinance in September of 2016.


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