Wednesday, January 04, 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

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.



  1. Although these flights out of KSQL are probably convenient for customers, pilots, employees, etc. These flights should operate out of KSJC period! Not for noise reasons as is the issue here, but for safety reasons. Surf Air aircraft are single engine aircraft. This component is just an accident or incident waiting to happen. Sure, the PT6A are wonderful power plants, but they are mechanical devices that can and do fail. If one were to fail – the PC-12 will become a lawn dart! Comments welcome!

    Citation, DHC-6-300 operator - ATP, CFI, 11K plus hrs.

  2. Hysterical rhetoric.

    FYI: Lawn darts are now outlawed, airplanes aren't.

    If you want to reduce your risk of dying (prematurely) cut back on the carbs, get regular exercise, get 8 hours of sleep each night, find a good partner to go thru life with and have a good laugh at least once a day.

    Chances are if you are going to die earlier than you really need to, it will be because you are not doing some of those things just listed. It won't be from a crashing "lawn dart" airplane, regardless of the box office hits that have come from hollywood.

    This argument is so narrow in its application so as to render the position mute.

    You live next to an airport just like millions and millions of other people. So sure, file your complaints and do what you can - but please don't make stuff up like airplanes turning into lawn darts.

    The airport was there long before you were..... and it will be there long after you are gone.


  3. RMD- you are seriously missing this persons point!

  4. RMD, that's right - engine failures don't happen!

  5. The San Carlos Airport was established circa 1914. I am almost positive there were residences in that area prior to that period in time.

  6. You're points hold no real value. "Chicken Little" is fake news. The sky is not actually falling.

    You can't debate the issue on its merits so instead of adjusting course based on feed back, you will just UP your volume in the hopes that louder sounds more logical.

    Unfortunately, I don't have the time for your hysteria making. I actually feel sorry for you: having to worry desperately over something that's just not going to happen... its going to be okay....

    If you want to make a difference donate money for starving children...

    Good luck,



    1914? Really? You think you have a valid point because people were here before 1914?

    .....oh geezz..


    A. If total power loss:
    If altitude is not sufficient to select a runway or field:
    1. Aircraft Land straight ahead, turning only to avoid
    2. Flaps 40°
    3. Final Approach Speed for 10450 lb (4740 kg)
    88 KIAS. AOA centered
    4. PCL Idle
    6. FUEL EMERG shut off Press latch down and pull
    lever up
    After touch down:
    After the aircraft has stopped
    8. Aircraft Evacuate

  9. This airline will die off. Mark my word!