The Culver City Flight Paths

Two major aircraft arrival flight paths to LAX fly over Culver City and the FAA proposes changing their heights and positions.

The FAA redesign of Southern California airspace is to take advantage of NextGen satellite navigation. Over 109 new satellite procedures propose to increase airspace efficiency and reduce complexity to flights arriving and departing at 16 different airports within Southern California. LAX is one of the airports in the redesign.

Over Culver City the changes will increase the precision that planes fly on the easterly and westerly arrival paths to LAX. Planes will fly along a narrower navigation corridor called RNAV and RNP which allows for performance based navigation. Departure paths will stay near the same.

During daytime operations LAX normally operates in a Westerly mode where airplanes land from the East and take off over the ocean. Jet planes arriving at LAX airport from the North and West follow a conventional flight path called SADDE SIX that lines them up for an east side arrival. The FAA has created three new westerly satellite-based Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (RNAV STAR’s). CRSHR routes planes from the Pacific Ocean, IRNMN routes them from northern airports, and HUULL is an arrival route reserved for larger jets.

All 3 of the proposed arrival routes converge west of Santa Monica – and fly as one path west to east over Culver City. New waypoints and navigation markers have been created for these routes, two define the path over Culver City: aircraft fly over CLIFY, near the Santa Monica Airport through DAHJR, near Redondo & Blackwelder east of Culver City. (Airplanes turn toward final approach once past the LA Colosseum and the 110 freeway.)


Daytime arrivals – CRSHR, IRNMN, HUULL flow from West to East

The proposed daytime path over Culver City is predicted ON AVERAGE to be the same height as current operations. It is also slightly North– it enters Culver City at Overland and Venice and exits through Hayden Tract – It flies over the police station instead of Carlson Park. A possible benefit of the new RNAVs is that the aircraft are continuing their Optimized Profile Descent (OPD) which can potentially delay noise causing landing preparations, such as lowering flaps, until after DAHJR. Previously they exited the RNAV over Santa Monica Airport and started slowing down over Culver City.

The airport does not always operate in a West-Flow direction. During periods of rain and Santa Ana winds (3-5% of the time) the airport reverses direction and flows East – planes land from the West and take off to the East.  Between the hours of Midnight to 6:30am, every night, in an effort to reduce neighboring noise impacts, the airport operates in an Over Ocean mode. Aircraft arrive and depart over the ocean when its safe.

UPDATE 9/2/2016*
The Over Ocean Operations will be following a route Called MDNYT STAR similar to the existing REDEYE Over Ocean Route. The less used East Flow BASSET will be replaced by BIGBR as proposed in the Draft EA.

MDNYT STAR has new waypoints but is following the existing REDEYE arrival path. It will allow aircraft to fly up to 2000 ft higher than currently over Santa Monica Airport than the existing REDEYE. The minimum altitude remains at 8000 ft over Santa Monica Airport.

The BIGBR East-flow Arrival path has a new route and a 1000 ft lower elevation over Santa Monica Airport- 7000 ft. Aircraft arriving from the East will overfly Culver City from TOMYS, near Dr Maya Angelou Community High School, and fly over Santa Monica’s CLIFY. This proposed arrival path is north of the previous nighttime arrival path– It enters Culver City over West LA College, then the High School and exits west of Tito’s Tacos.

East Flow arrivals

Proposed Nighttime and East Flow Arrivals – BIGBR

Update 9/2/2016*
MDNYT STAR will be the same height but allow planes to be higher.
BIGBR will be 1000 ft lower- dropping from the current 8k ft at Santa Monica’s SMO to 7k ft.

Neither procedure will use an optimized profile descent below 14k ft. Five percent of Culver City’s overflights will be by these routes. I explain the BIGBR issue further in another post called Proposed flight path undermines LAX Noise Abatement efforts. It appears that the FAA has responded positively to public comment on the Over Ocean Operations issue by creating the new MDNYT STAR procedure- but it has not addressed the BASSET -> BIGBR change.

Below are the centerlines of the 2 arrival paths in a zoomable map [expand link here:]. Actual flight path widths vary between a 1 nautical mile wide radius for the conventional and RNAV procedures, to 1/3 of a mile radius for newer RNP procedures -which happens east of Culver City after DAHJR. Roughly 36% of the traffic is estimated to follow a precise line.

Red is the Westerly daytime route from west to east which will carry ~95% of traffic (IRNMN, CRSHR, HUULL), Black is the proposed Over ocean east to west (MDNYT STAR). Green is the eastflow BIGBR. Blue is the proposed West-flow departure path (ORCKA). The smaller lines are current flight paths. The waypoint coordinates are  from supplemental TARGET documents released by the FAA.
The proposed changes were under public review as part of the SoCal Draft Environmental Assessment and the FAA is accepting comments on them until September 8th, 2015. Changes will take place in 2016.