SUNSET PARK — A new set of departure rules meant to cut down on idle times at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) went into effect Thursday, officials with the FAA said.

The new rules aim to minimize idling and pollution which often results from overlap between the departure times at SMO and LAX.

A handful of piston-powered planes that depart from SMO each day are now required to turn once they reach an altitude of 400 feet above sea level, as opposed to the former flight track, which required them to turn at the shore line.

Due to the close proximity between the SMO and LAX runways, past departures have had to be carefully coordinated in order to avoid a mid-air collision between planes. This has caused delays at both airports, some of which have been as long as 15 to 20 minutes.

The new protocol will keep SMO departures on a parallel path with those at LAX, and will maintain a 3-mile distance between departures at all times. It is expected that these new rules will eliminate the need for delays at either airport.

The changes will not affect jets or turboprop planes, which are larger, faster and more powerful than piston-engine planes.

When the intention to make the changes was first announced, some Sunset Park residents were skeptical. They were concerned that the planes would be flying too close over their homes, increasing noise pollution.

Bob Trimborn, Santa Monica Airport’s manager, said the exact location of where the plane would turn will depend on weather conditions, pilot performance and the type of aircraft, noting that the heavier ones will climb more slowly.

The required flight path turn for most planes will take place around the center of Penmar Golf Course.

During the maximum 180-day pilot period, federal officials will not only compile data on delays, but for noise complaints as well.

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