News

County gets more angry feedback about Surf Air noise

 

San Mateo County was looking for feedback from the public about noise issues connected with the county-owned and operated San Carlos Airport when it held the second of two town hall meetings on Sept. 14. Feedback is what they received – some of it angry and confrontational.

A crowd of nearly 150 people filled up a meeting room at the Fair Oaks Community Center in Redwood City, with so many asking to speak that the meeting time had to be extended by a half hour to accommodate them.

Most of the speakers said they were angry at Surf Air, the airline that started using the San Carlos Airport in June 2013. Surf Air said it had been scheduling up to 24 round-trip flights a day to and from San Carlos. Its customers, numbering about 1,000 in the Bay Area, pay a monthly fee for unlimited flights within California and to Las Vegas on PC-12 turbo-prop planes carrying a maximum of nine people.

"Why don't you have a quieter airplane to fly over our homes at 1,000 feet?" an audience member shouted to Surf Air representative Jim Sullivan, the airline's senior vice president of operations. "It's unbearable," the man said. "We're losing sleep."

Another audience member said the "root cause" of the noise problem is the county giving Surf Air a permit to use the airport. "You should probably grow some cajones and pull the permit and see what happens," he demanded.

John Nibbelin, a chief deputy county counsel for San Mateo County, said that the Federal Aviation Administration restricts what the county can do with the airport. "This is an area that's highly regulated by the federal government," he said. "We're doing the very best we can to assure people's rights are protected."

He said the "notion that there's a permit we can pull" is incorrect.

The hearing was one part of a study approved in March by the Board of Supervisors to look at noise issues connected with the San Carlos Airport. Consultants are also looking at regulations at other similar airports, studying the historic flight data at the San Carlos Airport and polling residents who live under the flight path.

A report on the consultants' findings is expected to come back to the supervisors in late October or early November.

Carolyn Clebsch, who lives in North Fair Oaks, said for 10 years she had held meditation retreats in her garden. Now, she said, the noise from Surf Air planes means she can no longer do so. "I feel the county and Surf have taken my property," she said. "I can not use my own garden for my own livelihood."

Jennifer Acheson, an attorney from Atherton who said she was taught to fly by her father, said the noise from the planes wakes her up. "This community was here before the noise came," she said. Since the county has argued that it cannot do anything that would discriminate against one airport user, "shutting down the airport would be non-discriminatory," she said. She also mentioned a possible class-action nuisance lawsuit.

In an effort to remove some of its planes from the flight path that takes them over the Midpeninsula, Surf Air in July began flying a new route that takes it over the Bay. Many of the Sunnyvale residents at the meeting said they believe the new route is now over their homes.

Surf Air said it is now using the new route a little more than 50 percent of the time.

Sunnyvale resident Kerri Webb said Sunnyvale is "the dumping ground" for the Surf Air noise. "We hate Surf Air, too," she said. "They sound like go-carts in the sky."

Another Sunnyvale resident, Rachel She, had a similar complaint. "You're basically just taking the waste from one back yard and dumping it in another," she said.

After the meeting, however, airport manager Gretchen Kelly said that while the San Carlos Airport has received 333 noise complaints from 61 households in Sunnyvale since Surf Air began flying the new approach, only two of the households making complaints are actually under the new flight path. "The other 59 homes were already impacted by Surf Air flights prior to the implementation" of the new approach, she said.

While flights headed to the San Carlos Airport have received most of the attention in the past, several speakers at the meeting also complained about the airline's departing flights.

"We do have problems with the take-offs," said Barbara Huoschinsky of Redwood Shores.

Lorianna Kastrop of Redwood Village said the Surf Air noise "is like a freeway has been moved over our heads." She said she especially objects to the fact that a service "for wealthy commuters" is making a profit by victimizing residents.

Surf Air did give the audience some good news: On Monday, Sept. 19, the airline was scheduled to reduce flights from a maximum of 24-round trips a day to a maximum of 18 round trips a day.

Mr. Sullivan said the schedule adjustment was made for business reasons.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 16, 2016 at 1:21 pm

It appears that county representatives are either unwilling or unable to discontinue Surf Air's use of the airport, even though the airport was never designed for this type or quantity of service. Since the representatives are incapable or addressing the community's needs, they should be voted out or removed from office and replaced by individuals capable of addressing the issue. Action, be it vote or litigation, should be undertaken to remove from office the team that continues to support this travesty.


3 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm

@member

How on earth do you hear any surf air planes way over in west Atherton? You must have amazing hearing. You should re-read the article. Any way here it is again

John Nibbelin, a chief deputy county counsel for San Mateo County, said that the Federal Aviation Administration restricts what the county can do with the airport. "This is an area that's highly regulated by the federal government," he said. "We're doing the very best we can to assure people's rights are protected.

Calling for county sups to be voted out of office due to Surf Air, is misguided at best. Surf Air is reducing the number of flights and is already flight 50% less over the area in question.

So are you just yelling at a cloud? Time to stop saying no one is doing anything, sounds like they are.



3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Memeber:

they are "incapable" of stopping Surfair from using San Carlos because the county has taken federal funds for the airport. The FAA will NOT allow them to discriminate. This has been repeatedly stated and reported. What is so hard to understand about this? The Supes aren't "doing anything" because they CAN'T.


2 people like this
Posted by Pilot
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 16, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Listen, I know at least 10 people here in Atherton and many more in Palo Alto and Menlo Park that use this Airport frequently. A lot of people in this community own or fly private planes and having an Airport so close is a god send.

This is a wealthy area and I know a ton of residents that are corporate executives that use this airport to conduct business as well.


7 people like this
Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 16, 2016 at 11:24 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.


As to getting a quieter airplane, Surf Air has pre-ordered 50 more Pilatus PC-12,planes. The design and configuration of the plane fits their needs perfectly. They will not be changing planes. Going to a 5 blade prop will make little to no difference.
Someone brought up some over flights are quieter than others, and not just from gear and flaps configuration. I have noticed the same thing. There is something about how the plane is flown that makes it a lot quieter. I suggest Surf Air discuss w/ their training pilots what causes this.

Also the IFR flight path has a width tolerance to it. If they would use the this width to stagger the flights laterally it would not get rid of the problem but every 500' lateral approach spread helps.

To put this in perspective, Their were approx. 150 people at the meeting last night. Their is a petition that has been signed by close to 1,000 people. There were approx. 160 people at the last meeting, many of the same but many additional people.

If 150 people take the time out of their day to show up at a meeting, many more are bothered but couldn't make the meeting. If 1,000 are willing to go to the trouble and exposure to sign a petition, many more are bothered but wouldn't sign a petition. I think it's safe to say there are thousands that are bothered by Surf Air.

I hope the County reps and Surf Air understand the magnitude of the problem beyond the few who show up at a meeting.

My feeling is this problem will not go away and may result in Litigation based on the number of people bothered. Surf Air and the County would be well served to find a more effective solution that works besides the Bay VFR approach. Litigation may spook investors and so on.

Finally a couple of people at the meeting, one girl in particular said she worked at Facebook and based on her expertise the study that has been commissioned is flawed for several reasons that made sense. Add to that the moderator not knowing the status of the surveys (sent)? out, how many, and to whom.

More work needs to be done.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 17, 2016 at 6:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The facts are that "Aircraft noise level is about 4 dB(A) less than
with the original metal propeller"

Web Link

A 4dB(A) noise reduction is actually a quite noticeable improvement.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 17, 2016 at 7:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Three things could significantly reduce SurfAir's ground noise impact:

1 - Use only aircraft equipped with 5 bladed propellers

2 - be more aggressive in horizontal disbursements

3 - have every pilot employ best practices regarding delaying flap and lending gear extension and in flying at lower speeds when below 5000 ft.. Some SurfAir flights are barely noticeable because those particular pilots employ these techniques.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 17, 2016 at 8:12 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

" I think it's safe to say there are thousands that are bothered by Surf Air. "

Out of hundreds of thousands if not a million people effected by the noise that don't care. This small entitled minority wants to dictate to a majority of people how it should be. Sorry, not buying it.

There are people that work night and midnight shifts that must sleep during the day. I did for years. I didn't demand my neighbors change how they ran their lives or businesses so I could have peace and quiet while I slept during the day. No, I put in ear plugs and went to sleep. But then I didn't feel entitled. I just dealt with it which is what this little minority needs to do. Get over yourselves and deal with it.


7 people like this
Posted by MenloM
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 17, 2016 at 9:40 am

Three surface jets just flew over here while I was eating breakfast where I live on the Atherton border. So yes Surf Air does fly directly over Atherton. I ID each plane with the flightradar24 phone app, and then complain about the noisy ones which is always Surfair with the app called stop jetnoise.net. Yes San Carlos airport has been a nice resource for small plane pilots but Surf air has taken advantage of this resource in a way that is causing a lot of noise pollution for a lot of people for the benefit of a few people. That is why we are angry. We bought homes here because it was fairly quiet. If San Carlos airport wants to survive, they will need to work with the feds to come up with some restrictions on high volume commercial flights... period.


8 people like this
Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 17, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.


It's unfortunate for all involved,

Surf Air which has the legal right to fly into San Carlos but is spending more time, money and other resources defending it and it has to be cutting in to their bottom line.

There is also a safety factor attached including the loss of focus and concentration on the operations, training department, personal, and the pilots who are spending time, mental focus and energy, trying to 2nd guess the least problematic flights and trying to thread the needle instead of a simple constant flight path, approach and landing into San Carlos.

Anytime a pilot has to concentrate on one part of his flight, part of his attention is taken away (as slight as it may be) from another part of his operation.

The County Representatives and staff, time, and resources that could be spent improving community relations and resources on improvement projects.

The Airport that wastes vast amounts of time. From the management down to tower and ground operations. Time away from normal focus on regular operations, Something else is losing attention and my guess is it costs money to put in extra time and resources.

Their have been many attempts to modify the negative and real effects of people on the ground. This has never been a problem caused by San Carlos Airport. It's caused by SurfAir's operations and the type of plane they fly along with the effects of a regular flight schedule. People learn to anticipate the flights and I believe as many people have stated it does effect their physical and mental health.

Modifying approaches, Changing props, Dropping gear later, Proper training on noise reduction approaches all help depending on where you live.

Unfortunately the people whose homes are at the tip of the spear will never under any modifications get relief.

They have lost peace of mind, suffered negative health effects, and loss of their homes' value.

There is no win win here. It may have to be settled in court.


3 people like this
Posted by Echo Tango
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 25, 2016 at 1:21 am

Remove SurfAir from KSQL or prepare for continued negative attention and the eventual demise of the airport many of us enjoy for personal and light commercial use.

Whoever chose the PC12 for SA lacks common sense and should be fired. Perhaps they would have noted that several peninsula towns have banned gas powered blowers.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 25, 2016 at 8:14 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

ET:

The PC12 was chosen for safety. It's the safest single engine aircraft in the world. Given the county just took more funds from the FAA any predictions of the imminent demise of SQL are very premature.


2 people like this
Posted by Maxxer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 9, 2016 at 2:29 pm

On the point of executives of atherton using airport.
A lot of people in Atherton are using guns, let's allow hunting within city limits.
Lot of ppl have fast cars , let's allow car racing.
I like smoking, let's allow smoking.

YOUR FREEDOM ENDS WHEN IT IMPACTS OTHERS. DONT LIKE IT MOVE TO MONTANA.





1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

maxxer:

not when it effects some tiny little minority.


3 people like this
Posted by MP Pilot
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 20, 2016 at 6:25 pm

A business jet flew over Menlo Park/Community Center on apparent long final for San Carlos at, I’m guessing, under 1,500 feet with the associated very loud high pitch turbine noise. In the past, this might have gone unnoticed, but given Surf Air, a neighbor I was with shook his head and said that we really needed to shut down the local airports these planes fly out of.

I’m a commercial/instrument pilot out of Palo Alto. I follow all the noise abatement policies and work hard to maintain goodwill in our community. These flights are destroying that goodwill. Keep this up and I guarantee community pressure to close these local airports will increase. My neighbors don’t know the difference between KSQL, KPAO, a Cessna 152 or a Pilatus and we’re all getting tarred with the same brush. I frankly don’t blame them.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 20, 2016 at 6:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What was the date and time of the flight so that the course and altitude can be verified?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 20, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

" I frankly don’t blame them. "

You should. You should use your knowledge and experience as a pilot to inform those that are not as to the differences. I certainly do.


5 people like this
Posted by MP Pilot
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 10:59 am

Not sure it matters, but the overflight occurred on October 25, 2015 at 11:02am one block from Burgess. Jet was on long final to KSQL descending through 1,400ft, origin KSBA. Sounded like a Blue Angel going over. I filed a report to the local noise monitors, who tracked the aircraft but could only get a transponder code from the files. And there it ended.

Understand, while this was a particularly egregious event (IMO), my main concern is the bad will it's generating in the community toward local airports, not the fact that I had to stop the conversation with my neighbor because of the noise and then try to explain why this wasn't Surf Air or the little one-bangers coming out of KPAO.

AsI patiently try to explain the details of the "good" guys and the "bad" guys, eyes quickly glaze over. All they know is that there are planes up there making lots of noise either coming from or going to these little local airports, which they understand are being maintained for the benefit of the rich, since only the rich can afford to be a pilot.

Would it be better if every citizen took a detailed interest in every issue? Yes. But the reality is that most don't have the time to dig in and educate themselves. Given that reality, the aviation community is having a goodwill hole dug for us by Surf Air that I believe is creating a Santa Monica-style "shut them down" situation here on the peninsula.

Or heaven forbid that the mixing of regular turbine flights with slow speed GA in the VFR corridor results in a mid-air with wreckage strewn across AP-MP-Atherton-RC. Think mobs with pitchforks and torches.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Or heaven forbid that the mixing of regular turbine flights with slow speed GA in the VFR corridor results in a mid-air with wreckage strewn across AP-MP-Atherton-RC."

That's a bit histrionic wouldn't you say. Ever flown in to Monterrey? They mix jet, turboprop and piston driven singles. I haven't heard of any mid-air collisions there. Nor at Santa Barbara. I've flown into both. The most uncomfortable thing that ever happened to me was Monterrey tower asking me to maintain as much speed as possible as there was a jet traffic behind me. I descended faster than normal, but no big deal. I was on the ground and already taxiing for the terminal before the jet touched down.

With comments like yours above you just feed into the "Surfair bad" narrative.


Like this comment
Posted by MP Pilot
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 6:32 pm

This will be my last post as I have no interest in a blog war.

I was driving to work September 1978 in San Diego and saw a tall smoke cloud coming from the Normal Heights area. Pacific Southwest Airlines 182 had collided with a Cessna 172 practicing instrument approaches out of KMYF, the field I flew out of at the time. The body of one of the flyers in the C-172 came down through the roof of my then-girlfriend's neighbor's house. Needless to say she never flew with me again.

Even though the cause of the crash was the PSA crew's losing sight of the C-172 after telling the controller "traffic in sight", the news media focused on these pesky little airplanes running into the big airliners.

Shortly afterwards the airspace in San Diego got locked down with high speed turbine segregated from GA traffic. Those of us in the little planes got stuffed into corridors making for fun times on high traffic days.

So I don't need a lecture on mixing high speed turbine and GA piston traffic. And if I'm not able to communicate my point, then I apologize. With that, have a good holidays. From this point out you'll be talking to yourself.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

How open minded of you MP Pilot. The incident and the response to it were part of my law enforcement training in the early 80's. There hasn't been one since. Has there? Oh, I forgot, you don't want to have a conversation.


Like this comment
Posted by practice
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Dec 4, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Yup. Pops was a firefighter in one of the towns bordering SFO - they trained for that also.

MP Pilot's example is from 38 years ago. Gosh-oh-golly, has much changed in the last 38 years?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Gosh-oh-golly, has much changed in the last 38 years?"

ya think?


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

on Apr 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm

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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