Things are changing at SMO in the run-up to the imposition of the increased landing fees on August first.
There was a 30% increase in jet traffic in May 2013 over the average of the prior 12 months. We will continue to monitor this development to see if the increase persists.
Also there has been a dramatic increase in the number of aircraft executing a 265 degree turn immediately after takeoff. Combined with the uptick in the number of jet operations, this has triggered a significant increase in complaints regarding flight paths and noise.
According to an e-mail from Martin Pastucha (Director of Public Works):
…Because one of the navigational beacons used for LAX is not functioning it is affecting those aircraft flying under Instrument Flight Rules that depart out of SMO. It is not affecting all aircraft, but certainly a percentage of the aircraft are affected by this procedure. We have contacted the FAA and inquired as to the date of repair and have not received any commitment. We understand a part I maybe on order and that may be part of the delay. We are meeting with the local FAA folks next week and will bring it up at that meeting to see if we can get some clarification.
Staff observed a change in the established IFR departure procedure last week and contacted the Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Division (ATC) responsible for the National Airspace System. ATC attributed the change in the procedure to the malfunctioning LAX VOR. A VOR is a type of short-range radio navigation system for aircraft that enables the pilot to determine the position of the aircraft and stay on course by receiving radio signals transmitted through a network of fixed ground radio beacons (i.e. LAX VOR). ATC advised that the procedure change is temporary until the LAX VOR is repaired. At this time they do not have a date when the repairs will be completed and the LAX VOR will be back in service.
Santa Monica Airport’s standard IFR procedure requires pilots to fly runway heading to the shoreline where they intercept a radial out of the LAX VOR (this is how pilots know when to turn north at the shoreline). Since the LAX VOR is out of service and ATC is required to provide for the safe separation of aircraft departing LAX and Santa Monica, they instruct pilots to turn to a heading of 265 degrees right after departure to maintain for separation of aircraft. Some aircraft equipped and certified to utilize GPS navigation are not affected by the VOR outage and continue to depart runway heading with northbound turn at the shoreline. Of course, Visual Flight Rule departures out of Santa Monica Airport are not being affected. Staff will continue to gather additional information and keep the community abreast to any changes. Additionally, staff will forward to the Western Pacific Administrator’s Office the community concerns associated with this outage.
…the LAX VOR has been repaired and its back in service. We expect that all Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) departures from SMO are now able to fly the established procedure of heading directly to the shoreline prior to turning north.
Update 08/20/2013:Per e-mail from Daniel Quezada (SMO noise office):
…we received notice that the LAX VOR is out of service for at least a few weeks. I believe you are familiar with this issue, as we experienced a similar outage last month. This means that some IFR traffic is going to be flying over Santa Monica instead of the usual runway heading. VFR traffic is not being affected. We are following up with the maintenance division of the FAA and will keep everyone informed as we get more information.
On August 19, 2013, Airport staff received notification from the Local FAA Air Traffic Control Tower (ATC) that the LAX VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR) was out of service for maintenance until September 13. This is the same VOR that malfunctioned in July. This change affects some aircraft departing Santa Monica Airport flying under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) to turn north earlier than the shoreline.
A VOR is a type of short-range radio navigation system. Typically, Santa Monica Airport’s standard Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) departure procedure requires pilots to fly heading to the shoreline where they intercept a radial out of the LAX VOR (this is how pilots know when to turn north at the shoreline). Since the LAX VOR is out of service and Air Traffic Control (ATC) is required to provide for the safe separation of aircraft departing LAX and Santa Monica, they are temporarily instructing pilots to turn to a heading of 265 degrees right after departure to maintain for separation of aircraft.
This temporary redirection of departing aircraft is not affecting all flights, but certainly a percentage of the aircraft are affected by this procedure. Aircraft equipped and certified to utilize GPS navigation are not affected by the VOR outage and continue to depart with northbound turn at the shoreline. Visual Flight Rule (VFR) departures out of Santa Monica Airport are not being affected.
Late yesterday we received notification from the FAA Pacific Operations branch that the target completion date for the LAX VOR repairs has been extended until September 27, 2013. We will continue to record complaints associated with this outage and forward them to the FAA Western Pacific Administrator’s Office.