The Federal Aviation Association says it’s not planning to return to Santa Monica Airport departure routes that were controversial in 2010.
The FAA’s draft environmental assessment of its Southern California Metroplex, a regional air transportation plan, was released Wednesday.
From December of 2009 to June of the following year, the FAA ran test patterns that routed aircraft over Ocean Park, rather than straight to the ocean — a test that drew thousands for complaints.
City officials pointed out last week that, in 2010, when the FAA reverted back to the original departure routes, they said they’d make a decision about the test departure routes during the Metroplex project.
The FAA, however, says that route, the 250-degree turn, won’t be coming back.
“The FAA is not proposing a 250-degree turn right off the runway end,” FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor told the Daily Press in an email. “The FAA is proposing a departure procedure that would have aircraft fly the runway heading (210 degrees) until they are near the shoreline, and then make a 260-degree turn. The proposed procedure follows existing flight tracks.”
The FAA is hosting a meeting about the Metroplex project on June 17 at the Main Library.
“The FAA will have Google Earth maps at the public workshops showing the location of current flight tracks and proposed procedures,” Gregor said.
City officials met with the FAA last week and saw some of the draft plans for the Metroplex.
“The procedures presented were shown from a very high level perspective and not layered upon a clear map that had recognizable streets or neighborhoods that identified the new flight paths areas,” Airport Manager Stelios Makrides said in a report to council. “The FAA was still in the process of finalizing details of the route and stated that a clearer map with longitude and latitude coordinates will be made available for the public during the public workshops.”
When planes take off to the west, they’ll have to hold for clearance from the SMO tower, which will be coordinating with the Los Angeles Airport north runways.
“When cleared, aircraft fly straight off the runway heading to the west and begin their turns at the shoreline,” Makrides said. “According to the FAA the new proposed procedures require that aircraft meet the operational standard criteria of a three mile separation in order to allow for independent departures between LAX and SMO, which decouples the two airports.”
The process is meant to reduce idling and fuel consumption by aircraft waiting for clearance, he said.
“The location of the turn to the northwest has not been clearly ascertained at this time,” Makrides said. “However, staff believes that the turn will occur between Lincoln Blvd. and the shoreline based on preliminary plots due to the fact that the coast is less than three miles from the LAX North Runway departures.”
The arrival patterns from the east seem to mimic current flight paths, Makrides said.
Departures to the east will change.
“The current departure to the east (during Santa Ana wind conditions) requires aircraft to make a turn by the 405 freeway to head northwest,” Makrides said. “The new proposed procedure will not require this turn, but rather direct aircraft to the east, the reverse of the path for arrivals from the east.”
A new arrival pattern from the west — used when the Santa Ana winds render landing dangerous from the east — would eliminate the current turn over Sunset Park and Ocean Park neighborhoods.
“City staff has requested a meeting with the FAA to get a more detailed description and clarification on the plot of the proposed flight path,” Makrides said. “The City will continue to reiterate Santa Monica’s opposition to any modifications that would change headings on takeoff from the current heading, by which aircraft fly directly to the coast, rather than over Santa Monica’s hills and residences.”