The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday upheld an earlier decision by an FAA hearing officer to prevent the city of Santa Monica from banning private jets with fast landing speeds from the municipal airport.
In a 57-page opinion, FAA officials rejected an appeal by the coastal city, which contended that it had the power to ban jets for safety reasons and that its policy did not discriminate against types of aeronautical activity.
City officials had challenged a May 14 FAA report that concluded the controversial jet ban "unjustly and unreasonably" discriminates against specific aircraft.
The FAA upheld part of that ruling -- that the ban violates the terms of federal grants received by the airport. Agency officials also said that the city does not have the authority to ban certain types of aircraft.
The city contends that jets with faster landing speeds, such as Gulfstreams, Cessna Citations and Challengers, are at risk of running off the runway and crashing into surrounding neighborhoods. Such aircraft, however, have never crashed at the airport and their safety record is better than that of propeller planes at the facility, the FAA hearing officer concluded.
Santa Monica now has the option of challenging the FAA decision in federal court.
-- Dan Weikel
Photo: A Challenger 600 Series jet lands at Santa Monica Airport on May 12,
2008. The city of Santa Monica wants to ban jets such as these from the
airport. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles