Court Rules City Cannot Ban "Category C And D" Aircraft From
The NBAA applauded a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals in
Washington, D.C. that marks another step in ensuring that business
aviation will have continued access to Santa Monica Airport (KSMO).
In a decision handed down on January 21, the court ruled in favor
of the FAA's position that the most recent attempt by the officials
with the City of Santa Monica to ban "Category C and D" aircraft
from SMO violates terms of a grant agreement made when accepting
federal funds for the airport.
"The business aviation community welcomes the court's ruling,"
said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, addressing the ruling Monday.
"Access to community airports is absolutely critical for companies
of all sizes, all across the U.S., and the court's decision helps
ensure that this access will be preserved. It will also help ensure
that the jobs, access to communities, productivity for companies
and other benefits provided by business aviation will
The court agreed with the FAA's position that the city's
controversial ban "unjustly and unreasonably"' discriminates
against certain aircraft, which in turn would violate grant
assurances accepted by Santa Monica when the city accepted federal
funds for the airport.
The court's ruling is the latest event in a long fight over
business aviation access to SMO. The current controversy began in
2008, when Santa Monica city officials adopted a ban against the
Category C and D jets from serving SMO on safety grounds. The
city's move was immediately challenged by the FAA, which ruled that
the airport did not have the authority to impose the ban, and
disallowed it from taking effect until the FAA could further
consider the matter, with a decision from the agency being subject
to a federal court appeal.
Santa Monica Airport
As part of the ensuing court proceedings, Santa Monica officials
filed an appeal in 2009 with the Court of Appeals challenging the
FAA's ruling against the city. This past April, Santa Monica
officials submitted a subsequent brief to the court, and the FAA
submitted its response in early June.
That same month, NBAA was joined by the Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Association in submitting an appeal on an "amicus curiae,"
or "friend of the court" basis, which strongly supported the FAA's
position in the dispute, and emphasized the FAA finding that
Category C and D business jets can safely be operated at SMO.
The Santa Monica Airport issue and others affecting business
aviation throughout the country are closely monitored by NBAA's
Access Committee, which helps coordinate advocacy efforts at local