Local Blogs

Deep Menlo

By Stuart Soffer

E-mail Stuart Soffer | Follow this Blog

About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi...  (More)

View all posts from Stuart Soffer

A Perspective on Surf Air Approaches to San Carlos

Uploaded: Dec 7, 2013
Surf Air, an aviation startup with a novel model for providing convenient service for commuters between the peninsula and Los Angeles, has been taking flack for the noise they generate over neighborhoods in Menlo Park and Atherton – as well as cumulative sins by others. I'm a fan of Surf Air and hope they're successful.



Out of curiosity I reviewed the official FAA GPS approach to San Carlos, and superimposed the flight path on a street map of Atherton and Menlo Park. Photos attached. If anyone wants copies let me know. On the map is a spot labeled CUZUP – that's the point at which the aircraft can begin to descend from 2000 feet. (The shiny blue circle denotes my house – right under the flight path so I share the pain). But the noise doesn't bother me.

In clear weather there are options to fly an approach over less impacted areas. Or circle to land joining right traffic for Runway 30.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 7, 2013 at 12:41 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.


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

Disruptive Airplane Noise Over Our Neighborhoods
PLEASE JOIN US IN A CONVERSATION MONDAY NIGHT
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 Nextdoor.com: 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


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Scott , a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Dec 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

The surf air planes fly over our house at an altitude of less than 1000 feet (contrary to this article). They are a single prop turbo jet with navy blue undersides and at least 8 lit landing lights. Other operators fly the same planes, but Surf Air's are the loudest, lowest, and most visible. Currently, there are 6 or 7 landings a day on a regular schedule and it's going to increase. The first in the morning is about 7:40 am. They fly over Holbrook Palmer Park and Encinal School. This is NOT okay.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Dec 8, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Thanks Stu for posting that. I wish more people would view it. For Peter at least it would mix it up to fly some vfr farther east. Your idea of flying over Stanford stadium and the vfr Eastern route your referring to. Can you show an example as Stu did above so we can have a perspective. Everyone complainig about Surf Air now, will be surprised how bad it really is when Spring comes around and you're trying to enjoy your backyard. We're all tucked away indoors now and the complaints are raging.

thanks Gwen for all your hard work.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by gwen, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Dec 8, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Resident -
We feel a positive approach is the best path. We have a great team working with Surf Air and the airport and the FAA. Please join us for positive input and impact.Please join us tomorrow and sign the petition.It takes a village to make change.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Leugers, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 9, 2013 at 6:12 am

Can a Charted Visual Approach be constructed over the bay that does not interfere with similar approaches into SFO, such as the Quiet Bridge Approach? I think that this approach can be used with a 2100' ceiling.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 9, 2013 at 7:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

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,


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident I, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Dec 9, 2013 at 8:48 am

I find the noise from aircraft much less distracting and disturbing than the train noise. In fact the worst aircrat noise comes from the helicopter going in and out of Stanford. Realizing however that may mean life or death for someone, reminds me of its importance. That all said, we purchased our home knowing we would have this in our backyard and accept and deal with it. What are we going to demand next, move the train tracks? Don't think so. This just seems to be another one of those "it's fine as long as it's not in my neighborhood" things. So maybe it's not flight paths and traffic flow that need to move.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Leugers, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 9, 2013 at 9:34 am

Yes, the FAA moves slowly, no disagreement about that, but I think that an approach may be possible over the bay and wetlands. We should work on short term and long term solutions simultaneously.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 9, 2013 at 10:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I think that an approach may be possible over the bay and wetlands"

In my opinion I do not think that such an approach could be created without conflict with existing certified approaches to other airports. There is a lot of air traffic in the Bay area and the fAA's number one priority is safety and the most important ingredient of safety is separation. Note that under low visibility condition SFO has to close two of its runways because the are too close to the other parallel runways.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Leugers, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I am well aware of the SFO TCA , since I have been flying as a commercial airline pilot in/out of SFO for 28+ years. I think that a Charted Visual Approach over the BAY and WETLANDS is worthy of consideration. These would NOT be over other residential communities.
We are seeing more of these approaches as the technological capabilities of aircraft increase. We do some more challenging visual approaches into major airports such as Washington National, Burbank and LaGuardia in much larger aircraft than this would present. What you are suggesting, a visual approach (over Stanford stadium) to ensure that aircraft remain as high as possible for as long as possible, will need to be a charted approach, hence a long development process, but that's the modern reality.
BTW, SFO does not close two runways or even one. It stops simultaneous charted visual approaches when the ceiling and visibility are reduced, but they are conducting an ILS 28 approach and more frequently an ILS28R PRM approach simultaneously with a LDA PRM 28R, but I am addressing visual approaches in my discussion. IFR approaches are another issue.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Jerry states " It stops simultaneous charted visual approaches when the ceiling and visibility are reduced"

I stand corrected - Thanks


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Stu Soffer, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Dec 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

I attended the community meeting last night – and was impressed with the cordial tenor of the dialogue and quality of the speakers, notably Atherton council members and Surf Air Management. Representatives from the FAA Flight Standards Office in San Jose, the Manager of San Carlos Airport and the tower also attended. About 25 people addressed the assembly.

My takeaway on a cold night...

- The noise problem is acknowledged by all
- The noise impact increases the closer to SQL (obviously), notably North Fair Oaks
- Surf Air is already working on alternatives to provide relief
- Since the airport receives partial funding from the FAA the airport is open to all
- San Mateo county receives about $1M a years from Airport Operations (such as rent, fuel sales)
- One alternative under consideration is changing the approach azimuth 10 degrees towards the Bay (290 instead of 300 degrees). This is the maximum change that the FSDO determined possible in the cluster of other approaches and airspace. This takes the flight path close to Highway 101 and east of 101. This potential change would have its own consequences to others.
- An ad-hoc improvement underway by Surf Air is to slightly alter the approach so as to not overfly the same houses more than twice a day.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Dec 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

A picture is worth a thousand words. Thank you for talking the time to put this together.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 10, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"- One alternative under consideration is changing the approach azimuth 10 degrees towards the Bay (290 instead of 300 degrees). This is the maximum change that the FSDO determined possible in the cluster of other approaches and airspace. This takes the flight path close to Highway 101 and east of 101. This potential change would have its own consequences to others."

I would be ashamed if Atherton\'s solution is simply to shift their problem to East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park.

And the more easterly approach would also create a conflict with airplanes arriving and depart Palo Alto airport.

The solution is a Controlled Descent Approach starting from a higher altitude not moving the problem to less vocal and less powerful communities.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Dec 11, 2013 at 12:09 am

Did anyone else at the meeting last night hear Surf Air say they were planning on "basing" a crew at San Carlos Airport? Think expansion Think numbers.

Is there anyone out there foolish enough to think Surf Air's business plan would allow them to limit the number of flights into any Airport. They are a for profit corporation. With heavy hitter investors.

The only limit on the number of flights will be the based on the demand for those flights. More flights more profit. Nothing wrong with that except the impact on the people who live below the flight path.

If you were at the meeting last night welcome to the corporate world of lip service. They will outlast you as an affected resident. You can set up as many working groups or sub committees as you want. They are professionals at this. You are ametures

If six flights a day bothers you, Think 20,30,40, 50.....flights a day. Perfectly legal perfectly within their rights. When they expand to Sacramento, Tahoe, Napa, Las Vegas, Hawthorne etc. San Carlos will change from a destination airport to a hub.

At the meeting last night the Mayor of Menlo Park spoke forcefully about not allowing this to happen over his city. I wish him luck. Your only chance to stop Surf Air flying into San Carlos is to challenge them on safety.

My sympathies go out to the residents of North Fair Oaks, You are the worst affected and least represented. Organize be relentless reaching out to your County Supervisors, Congress state and National, the FAA, Surf Air, The Airport Operation staff,the media, not social media, real media, hire aviation experts that can articulate the dangers of such a large plane flying at such a low altitude. This battle is not over but it will be soon as they can wait you out, with time and endless meetings. It's what they do and they do it well.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 11, 2013 at 7:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"At the meeting last night the Mayor of Menlo Park spoke forcefully about not allowing this to happen over his city. " It in unfortunate if elected officials make assurances that they have NO ability to keep. The city has no control and minimal influence on this issue.

The solution to this problem is not to shove it over someone else's neighborhood but to work with SurfAir to modify their vertical approach profile in VFR weather and to accept that they MUST fly the current IFR approach in low visibility conditions FOR PURPOSES OF SAFETY.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Reasonable, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Living close to 101, I have a steady background noise already and have not noticed anything objectionable by these flights.

However, I suggest the noise impact be kept to Atherton as much as possible. Atherton residents have the means to add a bit of insulation and better windows to cut the noise, that those living in other communities cannot afford.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"However, I suggest the noise impact be kept to Atherton as much as possible. Atherton residents have the means to add a bit of insulation and better windows to cut the noise, that those living in other communities cannot afford."

I agree. To 'solve' this problem by giving to others is not a solution.

Work with SurfAir to make it better but realize that there will still be a problem in the opinions of some people - unless the airport is closed . And that will not happen.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by gwen, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Dec 15, 2013 at 11:57 am

We enjoyed a very successful community meeting on Dec 11 with over 125 residents joining in and voicing their concerns.
Here is a brief report and an update. We will continue to have meetings withe Surf Air and the community leaders in January.

Our local community group is still involved in managing the noise problem, Surf Air has modified many of the flights over alternate neighborhoods each day by using a VFR routing.

The Working Group (Residents, Supervisor Horsley, Supervisor Slocum's office, Council member DeGolia, Surf Air, Air Traffic Control & Airport Staff) assigned to modifying the GPS approach into San Carlos Airport met on December 5th & the group has made great progress. We are working with Palo Alto & the FAA to explore our options & then will report back to the larger group(s.)

The Atherton Community meeting was well attended on Monday night. Elected Officials, residents & Surf Air were all given opportunities to speak. Surf Air's David Cole presented & stated that configuration changes did not reduce noise, so Surf Air began flying a "visual" approach when weather permits to avoid flying over the same homes multiple times per day.

Airport Staff has been tracking Surf Air arrivals & one day last week, 6 of 8 arrivals were "visual" approaches & did not fly over the homes where we have received noise complaints. So far Friday, all of Surf Air's arrivals have been "visual" approaches in an effort to reduce the noise footprint over Atherton & NFO.

We are still very involved and we post updates on Nextdoor- please join the site and if you haven't signed the petition, please add your name. 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 Nextdoor.com: Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Bertha Rodriguez, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 9:19 am

Gwen,
I live in Fair Oaks and I find that 6-10 flight per day is not the case. The flights have escalated and we in Fair Oaks are getting all of it. This is so unfair.
I would like to open this topic up again.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jim, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I didn't know about the protests against this noise and wish I had, I would have attended tonight's meeting (9/30/2014). I only found out about it from seeing it on the local news. I wish there had been a greater attempt to reach out to our neighborhood and every neighborhood affected by this noise, perhaps by leaving leaflets.

I find it inexplicable that this airline is even allowed to operate at all. Why quibble about flight paths and altitudes? The noise level that this 'service' is generating is a complete escalation from anything we've had before. Generating unprecedentedly loud droning plane noise that can't be blocked even by double layer windows, at early hours in the morning, should not be permissible over ANY community. I think people are losing perspective on the basic unacceptability of this whole enterprise.

This noise has a major effect on the quality of life of thousands of people! Why should we have to live with it? So this club of pampered rich people can avoid delays at the airports that the rest of us use? Completely elitist and undemocratic. Who is being hurt, and who helped, by this boutique airline service? The sheer numbers have to be overwhelmingly against them. Therefore, in fairness, they should be shut down.



Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:

Follow this blogger (Receive an email when blogger makes a new post)

SUBMIT

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

I Told My Mom She's Dying
By Chandrama Anderson | 11 comments | 2,461 views

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,772 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,201 views

Fancy Fast and Fun!
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 944 views

“I live near Sunset”
By Stuart Soffer | 5 comments | 461 views