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"Opinion: Santa Monica Airport poses no significant threat"

Friday, November 15, 2013

Letter: Airport poses no significant threat
The Santa Monica (CA) Daily Press


It's high time to clear the air with regard to the so-called "Santa
Monica-connected" aviation accidents people have been bandying about
recently ("The saga of Santa Monica Airport," Our Town, Nov. 12). These are
a compendium of accidents and incidents occurring between 1982 and 2011, a
period of 29 years, which are alleged to demonstrate that Santa Monica
Airport is unsafe. Indeed, they show just the opposite.

First of all, this list includes Santa Monica-based aircraft involved in
accidents occurring outside of the city and local area. What possible
significance does that have? There is no Santa Monica connection with
accidents occurring elsewhere, just as there is no pertinent Santa Monica
connection with automobile accidents occurring in other cities and states
involving cars operated by Santa Monica residents. Remember that pilot
training and regulation is a federal prerogative, not a local one, and is
uniform throughout the nation.

Of the 83 incidents listed, 15 occurred in the local airport area; on
average, one every other year. It is a fact that no one on the ground here
in Santa Monica has died in the last 95 years as a result of aviation
operations at SMO. These represent a minuscule fraction of operations here
and are clearly not justification to declare the airport unsafe. With regard
to accidents occurring within the confines of the airport proper, that is
not unusual, nor is it unexpected and it does not translate into a threat to
the surrounding communities.

If anything, these numbers serve only to emphasize how safe operations at
SMO really are. By comparison, for the year 2008, there were 701
traffic-related deaths and injuries on the streets of Santa Monica and there
were 681 in 2010, making Santa Monica the most dangerous in California for
its size. Traffic fatalities average about three per year. In 29 years that
works out to about 87 deaths and about 20,000 injuries for the same
interval. If the airport did, in fact, represent a threat to local
residents, one could reasonably expect life insurance to cost more for
nearby residents, or property values near the airport to be depressed, but
this is not the case.

It would be time better spent for those people who are truly interested in
risk management around Santa Monica to watch where they are going and not
waste time looking up at the sky and fretting about aircraft that pose no
significant threat to them. 

Bill Worden
Venice, Calif.

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