Thursday, September 29, 2011

Staff Report on Phase-1 of the airport visioning process

Below is a link to the staff report on phase 1 on the visioning process for the future of the airport when the current agreement with the FAA runs out in 2015.  Phase 1 began in March 2011 and was conduced by three consulting firms Rand, Point C, and HR&A.  These results will be presented to the City Council at the meeting on October 4, 2011 (starts at 6:30 PM).  Phase 2 of the visioning process will begin following city council direction at that meeting.  Phase 2 is the opportunity for the public at large to voice their opinions.  If you are concerned about the future of the airport you should make a point of attending.

Link:Staff Report for City Council Meeting - October 4, 2011
Link:Point C Report Slides - October 4, 2011
Link:HRA Presentation Slides - October 4, 2011  Notes
Link:Rand Presentation Slides - October 4, 2011
Link:SMO Partial History - Handed out at meeting
Link:SMO Fact Sheet - Handed out at meeting

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flight School Workshop - Press Stories and Comments

The debate in the press over the issues raised in the Flight School Workshop goes on.  See the link(s) below.

Link:Santa Monica Daily Press - See comments
Link:The Lookout News

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Slides from the Airport Commission Flight School Workshop

Below is a link to a PDF of the slides used in my presentation to the Airport Commission "Flight School Workshop" on September 26, 2011.

Link:Slides from Airport Commission WorkShop - Sept 26, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Airport Commission - Flight School Workshop

Don't forget next Monday (September 26) at 7:30 PM in the Santa Monica City Council chambers (1685 Main Street, Santa Monica), the Santa Monica Airport Commission will be holding a flight school workshop.  There will be three introductory speakers,  myself, Joe Justice (Justice Aviation), and Jay Elder (American Flyers).
If the flight schools and/or pattern flying concern you either for safety, health or noise reasons, this is your chance to make your voice heard, and hopefully to make a difference.  Each member of the public that wishes will get 3 minutes to talk and/or ask questions relating to flight schools.  If you don't want to speak, you may submit up to three written questions to staff, if you do, you should submit a chit and request to speak when you arrive.

Link:Meeting Agenda

See you there!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Santa Monica vs. Van Nuys - Pattern Flying

In response to questions raised concerning the absolute magnitude of the pattern flying issue at SMO compared with other local airports, the CASMAT team conducted a comparative study between SMO and Van Nuys (VNY) using both airport WebTrak systems.  Van Nuys is the busiest general aviation airport in the world.  The results are referenced below.  We picked one week going backward from the time we started the study (Friday Sep 16) and gathered weather, loop, and takeoff data for both airports for the period 11 AM to 4 PM each day.

Bottom line, for the time period studied:

1) Over time, SMO has virtually the same number of pattern loops as VNY (the busiest GA airport in the world!), even though total traffic is only 2/3 of VNY's.
2) SMO pattern loop percentage is much higher than VNY's (51% vs. 34%).
3) Absolute count of SMO pattern traffic exceeds VNY's on majority of days.
4) When SMO pattern flying is in full swing, it can drive total SMO traffic above that of VNY!  See data for Thursday.

Link to PDF: Santa Monica vs. Van Nuys - Pattern Flying

Friday, September 16, 2011

Community Visioning Ideas/Suggestions

The community has been pooling ideas on what can and can't be done, and when it can be done, in order to reduce the impact of SMO on the neighborhood.  There are many complex issues here and we must understand the constraints inherent in each strategy.  To this end, below is a link to the current list of strategies we are considering going forward.  Thanks to David Goddard, a Sunset Park resident (who also serves on the airport commission) for compiling this list.  The official City SMO visioning process is now reaching the end of its first phase which will be presented at the October 4th City Council meeting.  The second phase of this process calls for community input, so hopefully the list below can serve as a guide to focus the discussions to those things that are possible given the legal agreements in place.  There is a lot we can do.  There are some things we can't.

Community Airport Visioning List

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Links to studies on health risks associated with the airport

A number of people have requested that we include more information on studies of the health risks associated with living near the airport.  Below are a set of links to various studies on this subject.

Does the ... Lead in Aviation Fuel Endanger Public Health...? (Scientific American, Sept 3, 2012)
Airport's leaden fallout may taint some kids - Science News (July 14, 2011)
General Aviation Airport Air Monitoring Study - South Coast AQMD (Aug 2010)
Follow up to study above - South Coast AQMD (April 2011)
Santa Monica Airport Health Impact Assessment - UCLA (Feb 2010)
Lead Modeling Study at SMO (EPA - Feb 2010)
Santa Monica Municipal Airport...Downwind emissions - LAUSD (June 1999)
Aircraft Emission Impacts Adjacent to a General Aviation Airport - UCLA (Oct 2009)
Evaluation of City of Santa Monica's authority re. environmental impacts of SMO - UCLA (Nov 2006)

Airport noise up from 1% to 10% as a 'top' issue city wide

In the most recently published City of Santa Monica resident satisfaction survey (February 2011), the airport noise issue has risen to #4 city wide on the list of resident concerns.  Prior to the FAA 250 degree heading test in 2010, city wide less than 1% mentioned it as a concern.


...Just over one in three (35 percent) residents volunteered the budget crisis or a lack of funding for city services as one of the top two most important issues facing the City of Santa Monica today in their opinion—making it the most mentioned concern.  Another 24 percent volunteered traffic congestion as one of their top two concerns in this open-ended question where no response options were given (and respondents were told to respond in their own words). Just over one in five (22 percent) mentioned too many homeless or homeless causing problems.  Rounding out the most mentioned concerns are airport noise (10 percent), education/education funding (10 percent), too much growth or development (nine percent), and infrastructure issues (nine percent). Seven percent each volunteered a lack of affordable housing, a lack of parking, and crime/gangs (six percent crime and one percent gangs).


...The proportion mentioning airport noise grew notably as well, from one percent in 2009 to 10 percent currently (with less than one percent mentioning this issue in years prior to 2009). This may reflect the perception of greatly increased air traffic and a new flyover route the sends propeller planes over Sunset Park and Ocean Park when it’s foggy or cloudy. 
...However, in the current study one in ten volunteered this issue, with 23 percent mentioning it in the 90404 zip code

Mystery phone survey of Santa Monica residents

There is a mysterious phone survey being conducted of Santa Monica residents asking their feelings towards the airport.  Nobody knows who is behind the survey, but the questions are strangely phrased and it appears to originate either from an airport proponent group, from someone interested in political office, or someone intent on influencing the upcoming elections as far as policy towards the airport.  See the articles below for details.

Santa Monica Daily Press Article
Venice Patch Article

Preliminary NTSB report on the recent SMO accident

Below is the preliminary NTSB report on the recent accident at SMO.  it sounds like the accident was attributed to pilot error.


- Aircraft damage: Substantial
- Pilot: On file
- Certificate: On file
- Operator Information (Justice Aviation, 3011 Airport Avenue, SM 90405),
- Part 91: General Aviation,
- Instructional,
- No flight plan filed,
- Departure from SMO,
- Destination: Santa Barbara (this might not be accurate, as it was a go-around after the pilot gave up on flying to Santa Barbara)
- Time: 1427
- Sky: clear.  Visibility: 10.  Altimeter: 29.81.  Temperature: 21 C. Dew point: 16 C. Wind direction: 210
- Notification from: AWP Operations Center
- FAA District Office/Coordinator: Don Griffen
- Investigator-in-charge: Wayne R. Pollack




NTSB Identification: WPR11FA415
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 29, 2011 in Santa Monica, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N5155Q
Injuries: 1 Serious,2 Minor.



This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On August 29, 2011, about 1427 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N5155Q, was substantially damaged when it impacted a tree and collided into a wall and the side of a private residence after a go-around from the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), Santa Monica, California. The student pilot, the sole occupant, was seriously injured, and two of the three painters who were working outside the home sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to Planeminder LLC and operated by Justice Aviation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a planned solo flight to Santa Barbara, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The airplane departed SMO about 1423.

According to the student pilot, following completion of the pretakeoff checks, the flight was cleared for takeoff. A few seconds after liftoff the student observed that the airspeed indicator was malfunctioning. The indicator's needle suddenly increased and then decreased until reaching zero miles per hour (mph). The student pilot informed the SMO air traffic controller that he had experienced an airspeed indicator failure and wanted to return for landing. About 1 minute later the controller cleared the pilot to land on runway 21, from which he had just departed.

The student pilot proceeded to climb the airplane into the traffic pattern and kept the airplane closer to the runway, which resulted in it being higher than normal on short final approach and crossing over the landing threshold. As the airplane approached the last 1/4 of the runway, it was about 30 to 40 feet above the runway's surface when the pilot was directed to go around by the SMO controller.

The student pilot reported that he acknowledged the air traffic instruction, raised the wing flaps, and pushed the engine's throttle full forward. Thereafter, the student pilot observed power lines in front of the airplane, and he maneuvered right and left to avoid them.

The airplane initially collided with a tree located about 900 feet west of the departure end of runway 21. The distance between the impacted tree top and the main wreckage, located partially on top of a block wall, is about 85 feet. The engine and instrument panel were displaced in upward and aft directions.

The airplane has been recovered from the accident site and retained for further examination of the airframe structure and engine.

Flight School Talk at OPA meeting

Below is a link to the slides from the talk on flight schools at the September 12, 2011 Ocean Park Association meeting.

Slides for Flight School Presentation - Sept 12, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summary of Accidents at SMO


83 accidents/incidents occurred since 1982 either at SMO, on approach to SMO, after departing from SMO, or involving aircraft operated out of SMO, plus two that occurred in Santa Monica airspace.
There were 40 fatalities.
22 of the 82 accidents were on "instructional flights."
4 -- American Flyers,
3 -- Justice Aviation,
3 -- Gunnell Aviation,
3 -- privately-owned aircraft,
2 -- California Aviation,
2 -- Danforth Aviation,
1 -- C & K Aviation
1 -- Claire Walters Flight Academy
1 -- Cloverfield Aviation
1 -- Northfield Aviation
1 -- Santa Monica Helicopters
(The 6 flight schools currently operating at SMO are American Flyers, Justice Aviation, Proteus Air Services, Santa Monica Aviation, Santa Monica Flyers, and Skyward Aviation.)
The "instructional" accidents occurred in the following locations:
- 6 at SMO
- 2 in Santa Monica -- 4th St. near Bay (3 fatalities, including a flight instructor) and 21st & Navy
- 1 in Venice
- 1 in Malibu
- 2 in the ocean near Malibu (1 fatality: a flight instructor)
- 2 in Paso Robles
- 2 in Simi Valley
- 1 in Agoura Hills
- 1 near Altadena (2 fatalities -- the fault of the air traffic control system) 
-- 1 in Newhall
- 1 in San Clemente
- 1 in Santa Barbara
- 1 at Van Nuys Airport

"At Santa Monica Airport, you can earn your Student License and solo with as little as 20 hours of flight time and earn a Private Pilot's License in just over 40 hours."
*************************************************************************************************************
Regarding total SMO-related accidents/incidents since 1982, here are the locations:
Santa Monica -- 27
   a. 22 at SMO
   b. 4 in residential SM neighborhoods -- 3 in Sunset Park (Dewey near Walgrove/23rd, 
       Ashland near 23rd, 12st & Navy) and one in Ocean Park (4th near Bay)
   c. 1 in downtown (mall roof -- helicopter rollover)
Los Angeles - 16 
   a. 4 in West Los Angeles -- Webster Junior High School on Sawtelle (90064), Barrington near National,
       Greenfield Avenue, and Sherbourne Drive
   b. 3 in Mar Vista -- Mountain View Avenue, Wade Street, Warren Avenue (90066)
   c. 3 at Van Nuys Airport 
   d. 2 in Rancho Park -- Hill Crest Country Club Golf Course, Rancho Park Golf Course (90064)
   e. 2 in Venice -- Penmar Golf Course, Rose Avenue
   f. 1 in the Fairfax district -- apartment building on Spaulding Drive near Fairfax High School (90036)
   g. 1 in Chatsworth 
   h. 2 in the airspace over Santa Monica - one over 90405, one east of the VOR
Pacific Ocean -- 8 - (offshore from Malibu, Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, and Venice)
Agoura Hills - 1
Agua Dulce - 1
Altadena - 1
Avalon - 1
Azusa - 1
Cloverdale - 1
Columbia - 1
El Mirage - 1
Helendale - 1
Joshua Tree - 1
Kernville - 1
Lancaster - 1
Las Vegas - 1
Lebec - 1
Malibu - 1
New Cuyama - 1
Newhall - 1
Ojai - 1
Paso Robles - 2
Point Lobos - 1
Santa Barbara - 1
Santa Paula - 1
San Clemente - 1
Simi Valley - 2
Spanish Springs, NV - 1

7 total accidents have been associated with Justice Aviation, including 4 fatalities:
   8/21/1997, 3/28/2001, 12/24/2004, 5/3/2006, 7/1/2010, 3/10/2011, 8/29/2011

Compiled By:Zina Josephs

Thursday, September 8, 2011

SMO Related Crashes

Santa Monica Airport - 1950's - wet runway
According to the partial list of Aviation Accidents connected with SMO (compiled by Zina Josephs), there have been a total of 83 incidents/crashes since 1982 associated with SMO.  Incidents prior to 1982 are not available on the NTSB database.  Of these 25 have been flight school related.  Many of these flight schools no longer operate out of SMO.  Justice Aviation tops the list with 7 incidents (4 fatalities), followed by American Flyers with 4 incidents (2 fatalities).

Link to full details:Aviation Accidents Connected with Santa Monica Airport (SMO)

Four of the last six crashes/incidents at SMO (i.e., since October 2008) have been flight school related, two of them fatal.  Northfield Aviation apparently ceased business after the October 2008 fatal crash which killed an instructor.  Three of these incidents (one fatal) were associated with Justice Aviation.

Justice Aviation written statement in response to Aug 29,2011 crash:

In 20 years, and with more than 2,000 students, none have suffered serious injury in a crash.


In the July 1, 2010 crash, the pilot was practicing touch-and-go landings using a Justice Aviation plane when he crashed into the golf course and was killed.  Despite the fact that the plane was rented from Justice Aviation and being used for training/practice purposes, because no formal instruction was taking place, I guess this does not count.

City of Santa Monica written statement on Sept 2,1011 in response to Aug 29,2011 crash:

This is the first known accident involving a student pilot directly associated with one of the Airport’s flight schools.



There have been many accidents involving student pilots and the flight schools including the incidents on 3/10/11, 10/7/08, 2/4/04, 11/22/94, 6/24/92, 3/9/92, 10/7/89, 8/6/89, 12/24/87, 9/22/87, 6/18/87, 10/16/86 (2 fatalities), and at least 5 others.

Friday, September 2, 2011

City Issues Statement on Latest Crash

The city has just posted a statement regarding the latest crash and the flight school issue in general.
http://www.smgov.net/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=26629

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