The Los Angeles City Council April 21 voted unanimously to shut down six flight schools which operate at the Santa Monica Airport. According to an article in the Santa Monica Daily Press (smdp.com), the legislation approved would also establish a flight pattern that would make airplanes fly over homes in the area.
The legislation was originally proposed in March by the California city council. Council members Bill Rosendahl, Paul Koretz, and Janice Hahn proposed the legislation because of their concern fledgling pilots and idling jets might cause safety and environmental problems in the area.
According to an article, “Flight Schools Under Attack in Santa Monica, CA” in the AviationSchoolsOnline.com Flight Training Blog, the actions taken by the city council could not just affect the schools in California, but flight schools across the country. The article stated the initial goal by the city council was just to force the Federal Aviation Administration to make flight schools in certain areas close or alter flight plans.
The article in the blog operated by the aviation schools claims the council members have no knowledge of aviation and do not appreciate the impact of their actions.
According to the article in smdp.com, the action was taken to halt “numerous practice maneuvers” that take place over the area, thus improving safety. The resolution specifically cited a crash in July 2010 over the Penmar Golf Course. The National Transportation Safety Board has not determined the cause of that crash.
The article in the blog by aviation schools reported that some claim students at the flight school engage in dangerous maneuvers.
Someone from smdp.com unsuccessfully tried to contact Hahn to gain comments. She did not return calls.
A spokesman for the Federal Administration, however, dismissed any talk the flight schools operate in an unsafe manner, pointing out the planes involved operate out of many small airports.
“Nobody has offered one bit of evidence suggesting that Santa Monica flight school operations are anything but safe,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor wrote in an e-mail. He pointed out the pilot killed in 2010 was an experienced commercial pilot, not a student at a pilot school. If the person was an experienced pilot, he could not have been a student receiving flight training.
Joe Justice, who runs the flight school, Justice Aviation, said in the smdp.com article that he believes the actions of the Los Angeles City Council are “political,” and he added he is “angry.” He said despite “rough landings” by students no people or homes on the ground have been “jeopardized.”