SM AIRPORT — Three military transport helicopters that are among the largest in the Navy’s inventory will be landing here today as part of a movie shoot, city officials said.
The three CH-46 Sea Knight choppers, which are used to rapidly transport Marines, supplies and equipment between bases or from ship to shore, will fly over Santa Monica in a southeasterly direction starting from the Santa Monica Pier and then towards SMO. They are expected to briefly land at noon before departing towards the west.
Airport Manager Bob Trimborn said the helicopters will fly at approximately 900 to 1,000 feet above the ground until commencing their descent to SMO, which will occur over the business park just north of the airport.
The helicopters will be filmed in flight by a much smaller, A-Star helicopter as part of a scene for an upcoming movie entitled “Battle: Los Angeles,” a Sony Pictures Entertainment production. The film follows a Marine platoon as it faces off against an alien invasion in Los Angeles. Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena and Bridget Moynahan are rumored to star along with R&B singer Ne-Yo.
“Even though this is a movie shoot, it still falls under the Department of Defense jurisdiction, which precludes [City Hall] from restricting the activity,” Trimborn said.
Trimborn spoke with the producer of the film and they assured him the pilots would try to stay as high as possible and climb as steeply as possible so that they can comply with noise limits.
Residents living near the airport have complained for years about the noise generated by planes and jets using SMO, forcing City Hall to institute strict noise limits, which pilots must abide by or risk being issued a fine or subject to a ban. The noise limit is 95 decibels, according to the municipal code.
Under the noise limits, no aircraft shall be started, run-up, or depart the airport between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., Mondays through Fridays nor between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, except in case of bona fide medical or public safety emergency, with the consent of the airport director or, in his or her absence, the watch commander of the police department.
Helicopter operations are severely restricted, with a complete ban on helicopter flight training, according to the municipal code.
The CH-46 is 6 feet, 8 inches tall. There are six rotor blades on the aircraft, each measuring 25 feet, 6 inches. With blades spread, the aircraft is 84 feet, 4 inches long. The average weight of the H-46 is 18,000 pounds, with a maximum lift capability of 6,000 pounds. It can carry 25 combat-loaded troops, according to GlobalSecurity.org.