Surf Air pilots trying different strategy to mitigate noise


Pilots flying Surf Air planes into the San Carlos Airport have begun trial use of a visual approach technique in an attempt to mitigate the increased noise level over Atherton, North Fair Oaks and other mid-Peninsula communities.

Residents have been complaining about the noise increase, the result of Surf Air's summer launch of a flight service to and from San Carlos Airport, using larger, noisier planes than those typically using the small, public-use airport.

A working group of residents, Atherton town officials, Surf Air and airport representatives, and representatives of supervisors Warren Slocum and Don Horsley met Dec. 5, and learned of the trial visual approach plan from Surf Air, according to San Carlos Airport Manager Gretchen Kelly.

Surf Air also has scaled back its plans to expand its service this month from six daily flights to 10, according to Cory Cozzens, Surf Air's co-founder and senior vice president of business development. Beginning Monday, Dec. 9, daily flights will increase to eight, he told the Almanac on Friday.

The new approach method is being put in place only as pilots are being trained and the weather permits it, Ms. Kelly told the Almanac. "Yesterday (Dec. 5) was the first time they flew the visual approach," she said, adding that Surf Air's director of operations is conferring with pilots to evaluate the trial strategy.

Ms. Kelly said the visual approach "moves the flight path around" somewhat to allow pilots to try to fly over areas less dense, and not over the same neighborhoods each time they come in for a landing in San Carlos. She added that Surf Air is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in making the changes.

Two other firms fly the same aircraft out of San Carlos -- the Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop; Ms. Kelly says the airport accommodates 15 to 20 PC-12 flights daily. But residents say that Surf Air's regular daily flights have led to a level of noise that greatly diminishes the quality of life and safety of their communities.

Atherton is hosting a community meeting on Monday, Dec. 9, in the Pavilion at Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave. in Atherton, to discuss the aircraft noise issue. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Click here for more information on the meeting.


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Posted by Michael Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

This is good news people and the actual pilots trying to work this out. best of luck everyone.

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Posted by NoiseSurf
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I hope it works because the planes buzz our house and its loud enough to hear when inside. It seems like its almost always a white and blue Surf Air lane that is making the noise. Before Surf Air I rarely would hear planes overhead. If this doesnt get resolved or improved they will have a challenge adding more flights.

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Posted by sunshine1
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

So why all the crying about Daytime Airplane noise and no uproar over the truly hellish Leaf Blower noise ??? I thought very few people were home during daytime business hours. This whole ignore the horrible leaf blower noise makes NO sense to me. HOW is is Possible to Close your ears only to the leaf blower noise and not aircraft noise??? I fail to understand how anyone can LOVE or STAND the horrible Noise and Air pollution made by leaf blowers almost EVERY DAY of the week. Noise is Noise you know.

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Posted by Julie
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm


I can't stand those leaf blowers either!. I maybe get one day per 7-day week when I don't have to listen to those.

I live on the boundary line between Atherton and Redwood City. So I guess I am getting a double whammy: it is not an "either or" situation. I am getting airplane noise AND leaf blower noise. Properties in Atherton are large. Imagine how long it takes to blow one of those properties.

Too bad someone hasn't invented "mufflers" for blowers. Cars require them (I think). For sure---cars need to get smog check certifications. Why not leaf blowers?

I totally agree with you.

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Posted by Sybille
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Rakes and brooms instead of leaf blowers. Used to work for centuries! I don't like all that noise either and it's so unnecessary.

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Posted by Hope to get safety
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm

While playing with our granddaughter in our yard and "feeling, sensing, hearing" these planes so low right above ( technically 1500 feet is the cutoff)is traumatic. These don't get the safety standards or oversight as large commercial airlines. And they are known to crash periodiaclly. None of us should have to be subjected to being a potential statistic - with more on the way if/ as it grows. Many planes are flying directlyl over at least two day care homes, two elementary schools. This just can't be right. Especially after the East Palo Alto crash recently. My dad was a pilot in two wars and I am sure he would agree with me. He stopped flying where there was not a need for him to do so as much as he loved it. Bought a Mustang car and raced in safe out of the way regulated places. Hardly the same as a leaf blower issue.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 6, 2013 at 5:58 pm


the Pilatus PC-12 is a very safe aircraft. There have only been TWO cases of engine failure resulting in a crash in the last fifteen years in the US. I'll put that record up against an airline any day. these planes are NOT unsafe.

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Posted by matt
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm

No Planes! No Trains! No Cars! No Kids! No fun! How privileged we are to live in a community where this is our only "problem".

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2013 at 2:10 am

What was 6 flights a day to 10 a day, then changing the schedule down from 10 a day to 8 a day for 3 weeks in December.

It's a 3 week delay of 2 flights a day.

The only thing that will have any real impact on the noise solution is changing the flight path.

Beware of red herrings

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Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

A visual perspective of the approach is on my Almanac blog...

[Web Link GPS Approach]

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stu - Thanks, it is very helpful to have this picture.

Everyone should realize that just shifting the flight path to the East simply means moving the noise problem to someone else's neighborhood. In this case that means to East Palo Alto and Eastern Menlo Park. The articulate and more powerful residents of Lindenwood and NFO win but our neighbors to the East lose.

The best outcome is to change the vertical profile of the VFR flights and not just move the horizontal flight path somewhere else.

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I just watched and listened to the 4:10 SurfAir plane fly over Lindenwod. It did not yet have its landing gear down or it's flaps extended. Only 20 seconds of noise and that was a lot less than the leaf blower next door.

This really is much ado about nothing. We live in a major metropolitan area and there is noise from lots of things - that comes with the benefits of living where we have chosen to live.

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Posted by gwen
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Disruptive Airplane Noise Over Our Neighborhoods
December 9th at 6PM Holbrook-Palmer Park, Atherton
Did you know:
• Your home is under (or near) a flight path that allows noisy aircraft to land at San Carlos Airport (KSQL) at any time of day or night.
• Surf Airlines, a charter members only airline startup, flies over (or near) your home and cur- rently lands 7 times per day. They will have 10 flights each day starting on December 9th.
• Surf Airlines is planning to expand service to more cities that will result in even more flights over our neighborhoods each and every day, including weekends.

A large and growing group of your neighbors are working to solve the noise problem related to Surf Air, and we want you to stay informed, and get involved. Atherton City Council has formed a sub committee to work with residents of Menlo Park, NFO, Atherton, Redwood City, Palo Alto and any other communities interested in helping. The mayors of Atherton and Menlo Park are personally involved and we have additional support from San Mateo County.
Why You Should Care
Excessive noise is not healthy, regardless of whether it occurs from vehicle traffic, leaf blowers or aircraft. In addition, aircraft noise decreases your property value and creates a harsher environment for those that work at home or want to enjoy their back yards. Aircraft flying the exact same route ten times a day poses a higher safety risk for anyone living near the flight path, or attending one of the many nearby schools.
What You Can Do To Help
It’s easy. Voice your concerns, let your opinions be heard. You can do that by the following:
Sign the petition: Web Link
Call the San Carlos Airport Noise Hotline: 650-573-2666
Join the conversation on Web Link
Attend the upcoming community meeting where representatives from Surf Air, San Carlos Airport, the Mayors from Atherton and Menlo Park, and residents will discuss the problem.
When: December 9th, 6 to 8 PM
Where: The Pavillion at Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave, Atherton

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Posted by Rollin Hand
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Enjoy this time of relative peace and quiet... Once Amazon, UPS etc. have their delivery drones up and running we'll be remembering the good old days wistfully. Amen regarding leaf blowers, why they are still permitted here is beyond me.

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Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Dec 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Why does Peter Carpenter have so many comments regarding air-traffic.? Is he underneath the flight path or just potentially or where does he live anyway ?

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2013 at 7:08 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I live, as is always clearly noted, in Lindenwood and am slightly to the east of the IFR approach to San Carlos. I am also a former pilot (no longer flying) with 15 years of experience flying in the Bay Area out of Palo Alto Airport.

I was a project manager on the development of the world's first silent airplane (Prize Crew QT-1) developed by ARPA and have spent almost 20 years , 10 as chair, on the Joint Community Relations Committee (JCRC) at the Palo Alto airport. I understand the physics of airplane noise from my ARPA work and I deeply understand the social and political aspects of airplane noise from my JCRC work. During my ten years as Chair of the JCRC I personally talked to EVERY person who complained of aircraft noise. Almost all of the solvable noise problems were dealt with by changing pilot behavior.

First, based on my experience, the FAA will be very slow to change anything, particularly any published approaches.

Second, simply moving the SurfAir flight paths to the East is just causing the noise to move east - not to Palo Alto but to EastPalo Alto and East Menlo Park. The fairness, politics and optics of dumping Atherton's noise problems on East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park are obvious.

Third, the best and easiest to implement change is for SurfAir to move the beginning of their approach to a point west of the Stanford stadium where the floor of the SFO Class B airspace is 4000 Ft rather than the 2500 Ft floor east of the stadium. From that more western point SurfAir can perform a Controlled Descent Approach in VFR conditions that will, at all times prior to short final, be higher than the current lower, step down high power approach path and will be a much lower powered, hence less noise, approach. The net effect of this approach would be to significantly reduce the noise footprint for ALL the communities under the Surf Air flight path.

In summary, in order to decrease aircraft noise you can either increase the distance from the ground or reduce the noise generated or both - the CDA I have suggested does both. Moving the flight path east to East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park does neither,

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Posted by Kaz
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Beyond noise pollution, leaf blowers aggravate asthma and, by putting unnecessary dirt in the air, they damage paint on houses and cars. We've successfully found gardeners to sweep and rake for years.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 11, 2014 at 3:16 am

Peter Carpenter lives in Lindenwood and wants to keep Surf Air approach where they are. If they spread their approach out as suggested by many as the best way to alleviate the noise or at least spread it out it will fly over his neighborhood,

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 11, 2014 at 4:30 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

My home in Lindenwood is actually closer to the current IFR approach than most of the homes in Fair Oaks. I do not believe that simply moving the approach to our less vocal and less affluent neighbors to the east is a fair solution.

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Posted by Bertha Rodriguez
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 4, 2014 at 9:14 am

The airport noise has gotten extreme here! Why did you move the flights over our area? This is outrageous.
Why can I complain about this?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jun 5, 2017 at 10:14 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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