Why is the Santa Monica Airport Airspace Expanding?

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Santa Monica Airport UpwindOn December 12th, 2013 the Santa Monica Airspace is scheduled to expand by 0.6 miles. We set out to learn what this means for the residents of Santa Monica. We put together a list of questions and answers. Use the comment box below to add to this list of you feel we missed anything.

What does it mean when the airspace expands?

When pilots operate outside of the current 4 mile SMO airspace radius they are not required to communicate with the tower. By expanding this airspace by 0.6 miles, aircraft will need to communicate with the tower earlier.

This helps controllers all over Los Angeles to better sequence planes before they land.

Does this mean more jets will be landing at Santa Monica Airport?

No, this does not have anything to do with the amount of operations at Santa Monica Airport. This alerts controllers earlier to aircraft’s presence.

Will there be more traffic for the residents of Sunset Park?

No, this will not increase or decrease the amount of SMO aircraft operations.

Does this create an additional safety hazard?

No, quite the opposite, this makes the airport (and surrounding areas) safer by increasing communication between the tower and aircraft within a greater distance.

Is this part of a bigger plot to increase jet operations?

No, there is no foreseeable way that increasing the size of Santa Monica Airport’s controlled airspace will have any effect on the number of operations. In fact there is no possible way for the FAA to intentionally increase jet operations at ANY airport. In fact, Santa Monica Airport is not anywhere close to capacity when it comes to the number of operations. The only factor that determines the amount of jet operations is supply and demand. The FAA cannot (and could not even in theory) increase demand for jet traffic into the airport. If more jets wanted to come, they could, they just don’t. As an analogy, adding a second phone line to your home doesn't make more friends come to visit.

If you have any questions or comments please post them below.

We will answer them with facts and do our best to clear up any concerns.