Very unfortunately a Cessna 525 Citation Jet crashed at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) this week on attempting a night landing, went off the side of the runway and hit a hangar. 4 passengers aboard have been declared dead.
I have flown into SMO on numerous occasions mostly IFR through the marine layer. I use a VOR approach that is easy to fly but have not attempted it at night. I have also flown the 525 which I kindly refer to as the Cessna152 of jets, meaning that the 525 is a great trainer on learning to fly a jet. You can read my previous blogs on the Troubles at SMO and Learning How To Transition To Flying A Jet.
SMO has not taken a Federal Grant in 20 years, and states that it can close the airport in the year 2015. The Council and previous Councils, of limited mental capabilities, allowed residential housing to be built right up to the airport fence. Ever since this has occurred residents around the airport have demanded that SMO be closed. The only aviation commission in the country that I know of is anti-airport also demanding that the airport be closed. The City Council also wants the airport to be closed. Bill Dunn, of AOPA, has travelled to meet with the above many times without any success. The FAA states that SMO can not be closed in 2015, and I am sure that a lawsuit will take place at that time. SMO has already lost a major lawsuit when it tried to ban larger non airline jets from landing there.
As soon as this accident happened the TV crews were interviewing the crazies that live next to SMO. Same old story...close the airport now. SMO is the only airport I know of that charges based aircraft a landing fee. If a flight school is doing touch and go’s they are charged for each landing or go around. The people of SMO and Venice Beach along with South LA are full of hate for the airport. Their predecessors caused this when they allowed residential zoning up to the perimeter fence of the airport.
I have flown the 525 numerous times. It is a very docile airplane that demands, like any airplane, to be at the proper speed when landing. There are no reverse thrusters on the 525. Land at 115 kts over the fence, after touchdown pull throttles to neutral, drop the landing flaps and apply breaks. The 525 has a trailing link gear and is the easiest plane I have ever flown to land.
A NTSB report has not come out why this crash occurred. My only thought at this time is the plane was too fast and veered off the runway trying to stop. Other thoughts are the pilot was tired or disabled upon landing. The 525 is rated for single pilot flight. I do not know how many pilots were aboard on this crash.
My heart goes out to those who lost their life in this accident. I wish the people who live around SMO felt the same.