At the City Council meeting this evening (Aug 24, 2013), the Council unanimously approved the “Pilot Aircraft Retrofitting Program”, otherwise known as the muffler program. This program was originally suggested by CASMAT back in May 2012 as an alternative to the City’s plan to pay flight schools to pattern fly at other airports which was eventually withdrawn due to widespread opposition.
The retrofitting program (link here) is designed to pay up to half of the cost (not to exceed $3,500) of installing an approved noise mitigation device (muffler or otherwise) on flight school planes. The result, at least for muffler installation, is that when aircraft exhausts are replaced, which must be done regularly, the additional cost to the school to install a noise mitigation device is minimal. At the same time the value of their aircraft is increased. The goal is to incentivize flight schools to install such devices which should significantly reduce the noise caused by pattern flying, one of the most annoying aspects of the SMO noise environment.
CASMAT has lobbied hard for this program and we want to thank City Staff and the Council for following through on it. CASMAT volunteers participated in the original test, and we have cooperated with staff since that time. While we originally suggested that muffler installation be tied to a reduction in landing fees in order to fully motivate the flight schools, staff chose instead to simply offer to cover half the cost. CASMAT has expressed doubts that such an incentive would be sufficient motivation, however, we will wait and see what happens. If flight schools do not take the City up on its offer, hopefully we can revisit the motivation mechanism more along the lines we originally suggested.
Given the news announced in our previous post, which shows a drop of 15% in pattern flying in August alone as a result of the newly introduced landing fee scheme, it is clear that we are on the verge of real change at SMO. It is our sincere hope that the flight schools will take the City up on this new program, which is of necessity voluntary, and that the combination of the two programs will bring about a real improvement in the quality of life for all those plagued by pattern flying at SMO.
We will as always be monitoring flight school responses to this new program. Should they choose to ignore it, we can draw the appropriate conclusions.
Flight schools – its up to you guys now to show us you care.