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Federal appeals court blocks Santa Monica from banning some jets

May 12, 2009 | 11:04 am

A federal appeals court has upheld a legal order obtained by the Federal Aviation Administration that blocks the city of Santa Monica from banning the fastest private jets from its municipal airport until the FAA’s review of the restriction is complete.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals left in place a preliminary injunction sought by the FAA in U.S. District Court last year. Because of the city’s agreements with the government that bar discrimination against aircraft types, federal justices stated that Santa Monica was unlikely to prevail when the FAA rules on whether to reject the city’s jet ban.

A decision is expected by Thursday.

Santa Monica has sought to prohibit jets with landing speeds of 138 mph to 191 mph from using the airport, which is near residential and commercial areas of the city. Though the fast jets have never crashed at the airport, municipal officials contend the aircraft are at risk of running off the runway and hitting nearby houses.

The appeals court filed its ruling last Friday. FAA officials said they were notified of the decision late Monday.

Santa Monica officials have contended that the preliminary injunction should not have been issued by the lower court because the FAA failed to grant the city a hearing and did not make a formal determination of the ban’s legality before taking steps to block it.

-- Dan Weikel