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Waxman calls for wider safety investigation of Santa Monica Airport

October 02, 2013|By Dan Weikel
  • Investigators stand near the tail section of a twin engine Cessena jet plane outside an aircraft hangar at Santa Monica Airport on Sept. 30.
Investigators stand near the tail section of a twin engine Cessena jet plane… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

A local congressman called on federal officials Wednesday to assess the overall safety of Santa Monica Airport, where a private jet veered off the runway and slammed into a hangar, killing four people.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) asked Deborah A. P. Hersman, who heads the National Transportation Safety Board, to broaden the agency's investigation beyond determining the cause of Sunday evening's crash.

Waxman also raised concerns about the shutdown of the federal government and its impact on the NTSB's investigation, which has been suspended.

Hersman said she would take Waxman's request for a wider analysis under advisement. She added that the furloughs of staff members have made it difficult for her agency to do its work, but vowed to see what options were available to minimize the delay of the investigation.

Waxman said there has been "extensive community concern" about the safety of the airport layout, the length of the runway and the lack of runway safety areas or buffer zones.

He also asked whether an engineered material arresting system, so-called EMAS, would have had any benefits if one had been installed at the airport. EMAS, which is placed at the ends of runways, is a collapsible material that can slow or stop aircraft in an emergency.

The Federal Aviation Administration once offered to install the system at Santa Monica, but city officials rejected the idea, saying it would not be that effective.

Pilots, aviation organizations and the FAA consider Santa Monica a safe airport.

Since 1989, there have been 11 major and minor crashes involving aircraft coming and going from the airport, federal records show. Six were confined to airport grounds, two were in neighborhoods, two were in the ocean and one occurred on the Penmar Golf Course.

Though pilots and passengers died or were hurt in some of the accidents, no residents were killed or injured on the ground.


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