NBAA continue fight to preserve Santa Monica airport

NBAA is continuing to fight to preserve general aviation access at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) as a legal battle between the city authority and the FAA heats up.

A statement from NBAA noted: “NBAA is continuing efforts to preserve general aviation access to Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), including a lawsuit asserting the FAA exceeded its authority when entering into a settlement agreement with the city of Santa Monica; an administrative complaint pending at the agency and an effort to stop new political measures that would degrade the airport’s safety and aeronautical capabilities.

“In January 2017, the FAA and the city entered into a settlement agreement that requires the city to operate the airport only through 2028 and allowed the airport’s sole runway to be shortened from approximately 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet.

A coalition of airport stakeholders, led by NBAA, immediately challenged the controversial agreement before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The appeals court determined earlier this year the settlement agreement did not constitute a “final agency action” procedurally reviewable by that court; however, the court made no determination of the case’s merits.

Following those events, NBAA and others filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, citing U.S. Supreme Court authority to the effect that the district court has jurisdiction to rule upon the propriety of the FAA’s action because the agency facially exceeded its normal powers, even if the FAA’s action was not considered to be procedurally “final.”

The FAA subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the new complaint; that motion, and opposition filed by NBAA in October 2018, are now awaiting decision by the district court, said NBAA Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown.

“We believe that we should prevail on the merits of this case,” he said.

“We are concerned that a federal agency could be permitted to turn its back on protecting national aviation infrastructure and deviate from adhering to congressional statutes and have these actions be shielded from judicial review.”