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City Counters Fears Charter Jets Will Continue to Use Santa Monica Airport


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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jorge Casuso

February 15, 2018 -- A City official on Wednesday countered fears expressed by an anti-airport activist that Santa Monica Airport's shortened runaway would be routinely used by charter jets.

But the official acknowledged a charter jet had landed this week on the newly shortened runway.

Martin Rubin, who heads Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP), reported in an email blast Tuesday that he believed a jet commonly used by executive charter operators had landed on the shortened runway.

"At around 11:20 AM today, Joan and I saw what appeared to be a G-IV arriving at SMO," Rubin wrote in the email. "Shortly after, we heard the reverse thrusters.

"What is the significance of this?"

Rubin worried that the jet's arrival signaled that shortening the runway from some 5,000 to 3,500 feet would not deter the larger jets neighboring residents have been complaining about for years ("Santa Monica Airport Starts Ten-Day Closure to Aircraft for Runway Shortening," December 15, 2017).

In a response emailed to CRAAP, as well as local media outlets, Suja Lowenthaal, the City's senior advisor to the City manager on airport affairs, said the aircraft that landed at around 11:20 was a Sling Aircraft and posted an image of the small propeller plane.

Dassault Falcon 50
Dassault Falcon 50 (Coutesy City of Santa Monica)

But she added that a Dassault Falcon 50 aircraft -- which the industry describes as a super mid-sized, long-range business jet -- arrived at 11:26 a.m.

"The report from Coffman Associates (a City consultant) stated that this type of aircraft will be able to operate at a 3,500 foot runway with less than 60 percent of its useful load," she wrote.

"This aircraft arrival was not out of compliance with what is allowed on a 3,500-foot runway."

Lowenthal said the runway length required for the takeoff or landing of any aircraft takes into consideration factors that include "the weight of the aircraft with fuel and other payload."

Lowenthal restated the City's forecast that the shortened runway would dramatically reduce the number of larger jets using the airport.

"Under general design conditions, there is potential for a 44 percent reduction in jet operations based upon the current operational fleet mix," she said.

Lowenthal said that in January, the first full month of operations after the runway was shortened, there was an 84 percent decrease in jet operations compared the the same period last year.

"It is unclear what the new normal level of jet traffic will be," she said. "This monthly report will provide facts based on actual departures."

Lowenthal said Rubin's email questioned "the purpose of shortening the runway among other things."

Rubin had worried that SMO neighbors are "being bamboozled" with the City's agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to shut down the airport by the end of 2028 and shorten the runway in the meantime ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).

Rubin predicted that "the floodgates will open once again to jet traffic and that the City of Santa Monica will, as it has in the past, blame everything on the FAA."


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