Aviation Community Stunned... Unexpected Announcement Made Without Av-Stakeholder Consult
The news has caught the aviation community without warning... and apparently without significant consult as the FAA sent out a press release announcing they had given into the demands and rhetoric of the anti-Santa Monica Airport movement -- who often campaigned without fact or reason.
But here it is... the FAA statement intones that, "The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the City of Santa Monica, California have reached a settlement agreement to resolve longstanding litigation over the future of Santa Monica Airport.
The agreement requires the city to maintain continuous and stable operation of the airport for 12 years, until December 31, 2028, and after that the City has the right to close the airport.
In recognition of the city's authority to make decisions about land use, the agreement allows Santa Monica to shorten the airport's single runway to 3,500 feet from its current length of 4,973 feet. The city is obligated to enter into leases with private aeronautical service providers to ensure continuity of those services until the runway is shortened and it decides to provide such services on its own."
Even more bizarre, the FAA included the following statement as a final part of the presser... one that seems to defy fact, history and reality.
"Mutual cooperation between the FAA and the city enabled us to reach this innovative solution, which resolves longstanding legal and regulatory disputes," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "This is a fair resolution for all concerned because it strikes an appropriate balance between the public's interest in making local decisions about land use practices and its interests in safe and efficient aviation services."
ANN is researching the matter aggressively and has heard from members of the general aviation community, the pro-Santa Monica airport organizations, and others that had a reason to believe that the future of Santa Monica was critical to the welfare of the aviation world... a future that now seems cloudier than it was just a few hours ago. We are evalauing those responses and their import now.
Further; as we understand it, this decision was reached without significant/recent consult with major aviation stakeholder... which seesm to create some potential legal difficulties/conflicts with the FAA's grant assurance procedures and requirements.
Regardless; it certainly appears that the FAA has made a strange anti-aviation decision with far-reaching and overtly negative consequences for the Aero-Verse... and at a time when we were just beginning to think that the foolishness and errant ways of the FAA were mostly in the past. Now... not so much.
E-I-C Note: OK... some details are starting to emerge... and the whole thing smells to high heavens. SOMETHING happened in the last few weeks to get the FAA to betray the aviation community... we don't YET know what that is. WAY too much of this was done in secret and without consult to major stakeholders in this matter... which may not be lawful. WAY too many lies and false statements have been made and continue to be made by the City and the Anti-KSMO crowd... some of which will bite them... hard.
Worst of all... after looking hard at this matter for our upcoming documentary project, we came to the realization that this was a fight that could be won, and that the FAA appeared to have the legal right to take the airport back (although it would have been a gusty move). But now... NO.
So -- at this point, the FAA has abdicated its responsibilities to the aviation community, which it is supposed to serve, and betrayed us all. This matter needs to be reviewed by a higher power, those responsible need to be investigated/shown the door, and the aviation commmunity needs to come together in ways it has not done in decades... because a final loss in this matter will have vicious and catastrophic ramifications for the future of the Aero-Verse... Much more to come.