It’s high time to clear the air with regard to the so-called “Santa Monica-connected” aviation accidents people have been bandying about recently (“The saga of Santa Monica Airport,” Our Town, Nov. 12). These are a compendium of accidents and incidents occurring between 1982 and 2011, a period of 29 years, which are alleged to demonstrate that Santa Monica Airport is unsafe. Indeed, they show just the opposite.
First of all, this list includes Santa Monica-based aircraft involved in accidents occurring outside of the city and local area. What possible significance does that have? There is no Santa Monica connection with accidents occurring elsewhere, just as there is no pertinent Santa Monica connection with automobile accidents occurring in other cites and states involving cars operated by Santa Monica residents. Remember that pilot training and regulation is a federal prerogative, not a local one, and is uniform throughout the nation.
Of the 83 incidents listed, 15 occurred in the local airport area; on average, one every other year. It is a fact that no one on the ground here in Santa Monica has died in the last 95 years as a result of aviation operations at SMO. These represent a minuscule fraction of operations here and are clearly not justification to declare the airport unsafe. With regard to accidents occurring within the confines of the airport proper, that is not unusual, nor is it unexpected and it does not translate into a threat to the surrounding communities.
If anything, these numbers serve only to emphasize how safe operations at SMO really are. By comparison, for the year 2008, there were 701 traffic-related deaths and injuries on the streets of Santa Monica and there were 681 in 2010, making Santa Monica the most dangerous in California for its size. Traffic fatalities average about three per year. In 29 years that works out to about 87 deaths and about 20,000 injuries for the same interval. If the airport did, in fact, represent a threat to local residents, one could reasonably expect life insurance to cost more for nearby residents, or property values near the airport to be depressed, but this is not the case.
It would be time better spent for those people who are truly interested in risk management around Santa Monica to watch where they are going and not waste time looking up at the sky and fretting about aircraft that pose no significant threat to them.