CITY HALL — The actor known for piloting the Millennium Falcon in “Star Wars,” a floatplane in “Indian Jones,” and a spinner in “Blade Runner” has joined other tenants in the fight to keep the Santa Monica Airport open.
Harrison Ford and numerous tenants of the controversial airport filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Wednesday, challenging the often-disputed end-date of an agreement that dictates who controls its 227 acres.
City Hall claims that two key agreements expire next year but the FAA has long maintained that one of them remains valid through 2023. The complaint from tenants and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) reiterates the FAA’s claim, asserting that the agreement was extended in 2003 when City Hall accepted additional cash on an existing grant.
The argument is nothing new but the federal complaint comes following City Hall’s lawsuit, which was thrown out but may be appealed, against the FAA. The lawsuit touched on this very issue.
A ballot initiative, also backed by AOPA, is seeking to put future changes to the airport to a public vote. City Council, in an attempt to retain its authority over the airport, has proposed a competing measure.
Ford, as with more than 6,000 of AOPA’s members, lives within a 25-mile radius of Santa Monica, the 243-page complaint asserts.
“He has been an Airport tenant for ten years, basing both fixed-wing (piston and jet) and rotor aircraft in his north-side hangar,” the complaints says of Ford.
Residents have long complained about the noise and pollution caused by planes, jets, and helicopters taking off and landing at the airport. Others fear for their safety, noting that the runway is about 300 feet from homes.
Last year, four passengers of a jet were killed when it veered off the runway and crashed into a hangar.
Advocates of the airport claim it would be indispensable in the case of an large-scale emergency. They point to a City Hall-funded study, which found that the airport generates $275 million for local business.