Saturday, April 30, 2016

Flight paths change, but what about the noise?: Surf Air planes flying over Bay instead of residences

Surf Air planes have started to fly into the San Carlos Airport on a different path that requires pilots to use their eyes rather than equipment when landing on the airfield.

While some have noticed the change to minimize the noise, others say they haven’t.

Atherton Vice Mayor Michael Lempres thanked the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday for an effort to quiet the planes but said since Surf Air planes started flying into San Carlos in 2013, residents in his town and the North Fair Oaks community have complained constantly about the noise.

And they still are, he said, since Surf Air started to fly in on a different path starting April 12.

“Residents haven’t noticed any changes. I get emails daily,” Lempres said Tuesday according to a video of the meeting.

Residents who live directly under the flight paths need to be consulted as the county continues to find ways to mitigate the noise, he said.

But Hans Plesman, president of the Business Association of San Carlos Airport, said the county is making progress to cut the noise.

“There has been a substantial difference in flight paths over Atherton,” said Plesman, who is also a resident of Atherton.

“Things are being done,” he said.

Surf Air pilots are now flying over Moffett Field in Mountain View over the Bay on a path that takes them over the end of Seaport Drive in Redwood City toward the county-owned airstrip.

“This takes them out of the residential flight path and is a step in the right direction,” said Public Works Director Jim Porter, who is leading a study to quiet the noise.

Surf Air and Federal Aviation Administration officials have identified several visual approach alternatives to minimize noise; one of the alternative approach paths developed flies almost exclusively over water or commercial property near the airport. It will be piloted and evaluated in May, Porter said. Visual approaches can only be used when the weather permits but the area’s climate is temperate which could allow pilots to make visual approaches 85 percent of the time, according to a report by Porter.

The county has engaged in a multi-pronged effort to quiet the noise generated by the San Carlos Airport that includes getting the FAA on board with a plan to identify and approve alternate flight paths.

Porter is charged with putting together an airport disturbance study that will require hiring three consultants to develop more refined noise reduction options and survey residents on the impacts of overflights. The consultants will cost the county about $165,000.

Two consultants will analyze impacts of proposed operational changes, including reducing hours of operation, reducing the number of flights per day and imposing landing fees.

A third consultant will conduct a survey of residents and airport businesses on impacts of aircraft overflights.

A town hall meeting is also planned for officials to hear from residents.

An Airport Noise Working Group developed a series of voluntary noise reduction procedures the past couple years including a curfew but they have not substantially curbed the complaints.

Mandatory measures are also being considered that may include: time of day restrictions, night curfew, implement a reservation/slot system for arrivals, implement the number of flights by carrier and restrictions on helicopters.

Final recommendations to the board are expected in June.

Most complaints related to the airport come from residents in Atherton, Redwood City, North Fair Oaks and East Palo Alto.

In Atherton, residents have complained for years about increased noise from Surf Air flights coming into the airport.

In just a few years, the members-only airline has increased its number of flights from three to 30 a day. But the FAA sets the routes, flight paths and altitude planes must fly at when approaching the San Carlos Airport.

The San Carlos Airport has about 130,000 flights annually. Flights have increased 13 percent since 2012 and noise complaints have also increased significantly.

- Original article can be found here:

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