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Federal authorities have amended Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations to expand the regulated area above and around SMO from a four-mile radius to 4.6 miles northeast of the airport.
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Federal authorities have amended Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations to expand the regulated area above and around SMO from a four-mile radius to 4.6 miles northeast of the airport.

News, Santa Monica, Santa Monica Airport

Santa Monica Airport Airspace To Expand Slightly On December 12

Posted Nov. 29, 2013, 9:43 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

The regulated airspace surrounding Santa Monica Airport (SMO) is set to expand Dec. 12 in order to accommodate aircraft arriving at and departing from the facility, according to the Office of the Federal Register.

Referred to as “Class D airspace,” the federal authorities amended Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations to expand the regulated area above and around SMO from a four-mile radius to 4.6 miles northeast of the airport.

According to the Federal Register, “Expanding the current Santa Monica Municipal Airport Class D airspace reduces those areas that pose a high collision risk to low level commercial, general aviation, military and helicopter operations.”

A search of the Instrument Flight Procedures (IFR) Production Plan for SMO on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website shows seven actions are in the works for the airport through July 2014, including the Dec. 13 airspace expansion.

The amendment was discussed at Monday’s Airport Commission meeting after a Sunset Park resident anonymously sent an email to the council members and the city manager alleging the FAA action would result in a “huge increate of jet traffic” at SMO.

“The current Class D is fine for small planes but is being expanded to handle many more jets, and possibly larger ones,” the anonymous email stated. “This will make Sunset Park utterly unlivable and completely destroy the value of our homes. This is not a rumor.”

In the email, the anonymous writer claims if all seven actions listed on the FAA’s IFR Production Plan are executed, it would result in a “deluge” of large jets at SMO.

“These changes are so major that it appears that the FAA is planning to accommodate hundreds of jets per day,” the email stated.

However, the FAA said expanding the Class D airspace radius has no relation to the level of traffic at SMO or any other airport.

“Increasing the size of the Class D airspace has no bearing whatsoever on the type of aircraft they can use the airport,” Allen Kenitzer, the FAA’s manager of communications and media relations, told The Mirror. “Expanding the Class D will better protect all aircraft arriving at and departing from SMO and transiting through the airspace around it.”

According to the FAA, however, the airspace amendment was necessary for SMO to remain “operationally current.”

The Federal Register noted: “This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.”

Class D airspace, which is cylindrical in shape, ranges from the airport surface to 2,500 feet above ground. The standard radius for Class D airspace is generally four nautical miles. Transponders are not required for Class D airspace, though the aircraft must still have some communication capability on board.

According to the FAA, Class D airspace must be sized to “allow for safe and efficient handling of operations.”

A Class D airspace designation is generally reserved for small airports with an operating air traffic control tower, such as SMO.

Beyond requiring pilots to remain in communication with the air traffic control tower, airports with Class D airspace do not face strict flight regulations as those required for airports with Class B or C airspace.

Most commercial airports are either Class B or Class C airspace. LAX, for example, is Class B while Sacramento International Airport is Class C.

Detailed information of the Class D amendment can be found at federalregister.gov/a/2013-21497.

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Comments

Nov. 30, 2013, 10:17:42 am

Airport Cynic said...

If you read the original email, which is attached to the Airport Commission agenda, you will see that the airspace expansion is only the first step. It is being expanded to allow new procedures WHICH ARE ALL FOR JETS! Naturally, if the FAA says there is no issue, we should trust them completely. Would the FAA lie to us? The FAA is spending millions of dollars to develop these procedures. It is on their website. So, spending millions to develop jet procedures won't mean more jets, right? Of course not!

Nov. 30, 2013, 10:29:01 am

Jane said...

I am way more afraid of a 16 year old driver on the 405 than a 16 year old student pilot. In fact, I'm way more afraid of the stupidity of some of the misinformed comments on here.

Nov. 30, 2013, 10:31:26 am

Self centered Sunset said...

Oh dear, Sunset Park. Let me think about ME, ME, ME. Screw the safety of others are long as I'm not affected.

Nov. 30, 2013, 10:35:07 am

Good news said...

That's great that the FAA is spending millions on this new airspace. That means the corrupt city of Santa Monica and Big Real estate is losing their battle to close the airport. The ones you should be mad at is the City of Santa Monica for burning millions of dollars fighting a frivolous lawsuit with our tax dollars. All of this so their "campaign contributors" can build condos on the land some day.

Nov. 30, 2013, 10:37:20 am

Mystic Prophet said...

Oh dear God, there are people like Ally who say Oh dear God.

Nov. 30, 2013, 10:52:54 am

Battered Resident said...

Why not publish the original email so we can all decide for ourselves? Why not publish the list of new jet procedures that the FAA is planning? Why is this being suppressed as much as possible? Why not report the known verifiable facts for everyone to see? Why are we taking the word of the FAA or anyone else about this? They are changing the airspace and the flight paths which affect us. If it is so harmless, why not publish the full facts and let the people decide?

Nov. 30, 2013, 11:02:02 am

Zoey Tur said...

As a 35 year commercial pilot and very longtime resident of Santa Monica with extensive experience in successful litigation, I find it offensive that the Santa Monica Mirror reprints "facts" from anonymous emails, especially when they're wrong. Despite the email's scare tactics, the extension of the Class D Airspace adds a buffer to arriving VFR traffic from the north, giving controllers the time, and focus to deal with existing IFR (or positive controlled aircraft) being handed over from L.A. Center (Traffic Control). Clearly aviation safety experts believe the added margin of safety will help eliminate potential conflicts. The Mirror has a long history of reprinting the histrionics of a handful of homeowners, some on the record, most anonymous that have a vested interest in seeing the airport gone--Their housing values increasing. These will be the same people that will complain about car traffic should a park replace the airport, something that will never happen. In 50 years of litigation with the FAA, the City of Santa Monica has never won. Federal Courts will always side on with the FAA administrator, and by extension the U.S. Government on issues of safety and aviation transportation infrastructure. To do otherwise would result in thousands of flawed lawsuits across the U.S. and jeopardize interstate commerce. The current round of litigation that pays outside law firms over $525 an hour is like tearing hundred dollar bills in the shower. It may feel good, but in the end it's useless, leaving us several million dollars poorer. That's my expert opinion on both litigation and aviation. And on the record.

Nov. 30, 2013, 11:20:26 am

Howard Israel said...

The expansion of the Class D airspace will have absolutely no effect on the residents of Sunset Park or the rest of Santa Monica. All of Santa Monica is currently included in the SMO Class D. The airspace expansion is primarily to the east. It is being done to keep primarily arriving aircraft under Air Traffic Control and not wandering in this busy airspace without talking to controllers. This action is being done solely to increase safety. The FAA does not tell airplanes, jet or otherwise which airport to choose as their destination, and has no control over that.

Nov. 30, 2013, 11:38:02 pm

Cooper said...

Hey you Nimby's - The reason they don't publish a map or details is because you wouldn't understand what you're looking at. You're not trained pilots. If you were, you'd get off your soap boxes and realize that the airport is an asset not a liability. But that doesn't further your self-centered agendas.

Nov. 30, 2013, 11:39:43 pm

Oh dear said...

Who knew Sunset Park was so full of narcissistic douche nozzles?

Nov. 29, 2013, 3:05:30 pm

Pilot Mike said...

I'm sorry, but as a 16 year old pilot, I find it extremely comedic how people think an airspace expansion adds to larger jet traffic... The airspace expansion is to reduce the risk of MID-AIR COLLISIONS NORTH AND AROUND SMO. When pilots are outside of controlled airspace, they ARE NOT REQUIRED to talk with anyone. So this airspace expansion means that small aircraft, such as Cessnas and Pipers, are less likely to use the smaller controller free corridor, as they don't want to risk busting airspace without talking to someone. The statement about how “The current Class D is fine for small planes but is being expanded to handle many more jets, and possibly larger ones" is not just incorrect, but wildly blown out of proportion. Expanding airspace to the north has no effect on jet traffic expanding, as the approach path for Runway 21 is from the east, and for Runway 3 it is from the west. What the airspace expansion will do though, is reduce the risk of an aircraft flying under VFR conditions, of which is flying in airspace that is not mandatory to communicate in, crossing paths with an arriving or departing jet of which is being handed off from SoCal Approach to SMO Tower. Why was that email sent without contact info? Because the person is misinformed and doesn't have details and facts to back up their largely inaccurate statement. This action, unlike what the city politicians are trying to make it sound like, is MAKING SANTA MONICA SAFER.

Nov. 29, 2013, 4:31:36 pm

Truth said...

I just love how non-pilots jump to conclusions (or delusions) to fit their pro-real estate development agenda. If you knew anything you'd understand this makes the airspace SAFER and has nothing to do with accommodating jets or even landings at SMO for that matter. It's addressing an area in Los Angeles to the northeast that has a high amount of transitioning aircraft.

Nov. 29, 2013, 4:56:46 pm

Ally said...

"I'm sorry, but as a 16 year old pilot...." Oh dear god

Nov. 29, 2013, 8:04:21 pm

Sheri Silverton said...

I would sure like to see a map of the .6 mile extension. This will impact people that live in Sunset Park.

Dec. 4, 2013, 7:24:20 pm

Charles Thomson said...

The last 16 year old I trained at Santa Monica was one of the best pilots I ever had the pleasure to teach. I can assure anyone that cares that expanding Santa Monica's D airspace will make no difference to aircraft traffic levels. This email is just fear-mongering pure and simple.

Dec. 5, 2013, 7:24:02 pm

Santa Monica Airport Friends said...

We answered many of these Santa Monica Airport questions for residents at this website: http://santamonicaairport.com/santa-monica-airport-airspace-expanding/

Dec. 28, 2013, 10:19:21 am

Planes said...

Why do the surrounding neighboring community's think about themselves and their homes??? It will help with larger airspace by adding .6 mile.

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