The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has been joined by five other stakeholders in challenging the legality of a settlement agreement between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the city of Santa Monica (SMO) that could prohibit aviation access.
The body lodged the appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, after an agreement was made to restrict and prohibit aviation access to Santa Monica Municipal Airport. The agreement was made in January with no public input and with no consideration for multiple mandatory statutory requirements.
In its petition, NBAA argued that when the FAA entered into its agreement with city, the agency disregarded the statutory requirements for a study under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA); ignored the requirement to show that releasing SMO from its obligations would benefit aviation; neglected to document requirements rooted in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); failed to provide the mandatory opportunity for public notice and comment; and did not follow other legal requirements.
Ed Bolen, NBAA President and CEO, said, “As this filing makes perfectly clear, NBAA will defend our nation’s critical aviation infrastructure and protect general aviation’s access to airports and airspace. By allowing ‘local control’ driven by a vocal minority, with complete disregard for system-wide impacts, the loss of this critical reliever airport shifts the burden of accommodating air traffic to other area airports and has a major negative impact on area residents, businesses, general aviation and the flying public.”
Prior to the settlement agreement, SMO was obligated to remain open until 2023 based on grant agreements. However, in January 2017, after secret negotiations with the city, the FAA agreed to release the city from obligations that it had previously defended. SMO acts as a reliever airport for the area’s main Airport Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Other parties contributing to this filing include the Santa Monica Airport Association, a user group and longstanding proponent for maintaining the airport; two airport-based businesses, Bill’s Air Center and Kim Davidson Aviation; and Redgate Partners and Wonderful Citrus, two operators that frequently utilize SMO.