Congressman Henry Waxman (Dem-33rd District) today sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael P. Huerta to request immediate action to address safety conditions at Santa Monica Airport, following Sunday’s fatal crash the claimed four lives.
Waxman said the FAA has consistently failed to address past concerns about inadequate measures to ensure the safety of the Santa Monica community, pilots, and passengers.
Here is full text of the letter:
Dear Administrator Huerta:
I am writing on behalf of my constituents who reside near the Santa Monica Airport. I have repeatedly called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address concerns in the community over safety conditions at the airport. But the FAA has inexcusably failed to act.
I request you immediately address these problems and establish additional safeguards as quickly as possible.
On Sunday, September 29, 2013, a twin-engine Cessna Citation landing from Hailey, Idaho veered off the right side of the runway and crashed into a storage hangar. Although we do not yet know all of the facts, reports indicate that there were four casualties, including a father and son who owned a successful construction business in Santa Monica.
According to Chairman David Goddard of the Santa Monica Airport Commission, the crash occurred about 150 feet from the homes that surround the airport. He believes that if the plane had not hit the hangar, it could have gone over an embankment and crashed into houses. Residences surround approximately 75 percent of the airport.
I have written repeatedly to draw attention to these issues, but the FAA has consistently rebuffed my efforts, the work of city officials in Santa Monica, and the wishes of the community to address safety issues at the airport.
The people of Santa Monica – and especially those living next to the airport – deserve your full attention. They have been warning for years that the airport is an accident waiting to happen. The tragic crash on Sunday illustrates how inadequate safety measures jeopardize the surrounding community and endanger pilots and passengers.
Three months ago, I wrote the FAA with the simple request that the agency participate in a forum in Santa Monica with City of Santa Monica officials and members of the community to discuss options for the future of the airport. I was extremely disappointed when the FAA declined the invitation to participate in a public forum.
Just last week, I wrote that “[t]he FAA has an important leadership role to play in charting the airport’s future” and requested a meeting with you to discuss moving forward with a public forum. To date, I have not received an answer from you. I expect one without delay.
The fatal crash should be a wakeup call. You should thoroughly review the conditions at the airport, implement safeguards to protect the community, pilots, and passengers, and make the safety of the Santa Monica Airport an urgent priority.
Henry A. Waxman