Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Surf Air resuming flights over Atherton homes: Six-month trial of over-Bay approach has ended as Federal Aviation Administration study continues
For a six-month period that ended Wednesday, the noisy Surf Air planes flew the Bayside Visual Approach into San Carlos at least 60 percent of the time, “when weather and air traffic conditions” allowed, according to Assistant San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy.
On Thursday, the planes are to resume using the GPS approach, which had drawn thousands of complaints from residents in Atherton, Menlo Park, Los Altos and elsewhere.
“I just got a letter from San Carlos Airport,” Atherton Mayor Michael Lempres said on Tuesday, revealing the news that isn’t likely to please many of his constituents.
The Bayside approach, which took the planes out over the Bay for part of the flight, was “a real help,” Lempres said. “Clearly, not going over as many homes has really made a difference. That they will be flying over Atherton homes again will generate a lot of complaints.”
According to Callagy’s letter, “The Bayside Visual Approach was developed for use by Surf Air in an effort to reduce aircraft noise for approximately 140,000 residents living near the GPS approach into the San Carlos Airport.”
Gretchen Kelly, manager of the San Mateo County Airports Division, said in a letter to Lempres and others that “Surf Air will resume flying the GPS approach into the San Carlos Airport while the FAA completes its operational, community and environmental analysis of the Bayside Visual Approach for effectiveness. The FAA’s analysis will include an opportunity for public comment.”
Kelly said noise complaints can continue to be made by phone on the Noise Complaint Hotline at 844-266-6266, or online at http://www.planenoise.com/sanmateo/tY5Ru4wa/.
Lempres noted that Atherton already sends people to a working group tasked with working on the issue.
In August, the pavilion at Atherton’s Holbrook-Palmer Park was filled to overflowing when 185 people showed up to talk about the noise from Surf Air airplanes.
Many were angry about Surf Air, which began operations in 2013 with a few flights per day from San Carlos to Los Angeles and back. By August, it had expanded to 22 outgoing and 22 incoming flights a day.
There have been thousands of complaints, citing annoyances such as ruined phone calls, woken babies (and adults) and glassware shaking on shelves caused by low-flying aircraft.
San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley, host of the meeting, told the crowd that when Surf Air began operations, the county was surprised, and asked the Federal Aviation Administration, “How did we end up with a commercial airline in what had been a general aviation airport?”
The county was told, Horsley said, that not only were there no regulations stopping Surf Air from operating out of San Carlos Airport, but that there are federal regulations that make it so the county can’t stop Surf Air, at least not while it is receiving federal transportation grant money.
Posted by Kathryn on 8:52:00 PM