Residents living under the flight path into the San Carlos Airport will have an opportunity to weigh in on efforts to reroute Surf Air planes over the Bay and industrial zones at a community meeting the FAA is hosting in San Jose Wednesday.
Part of an environmental study of a route piloted by the small-aircraft, members-only service in recent months, the meeting is an opportunity for Federal Aviation Administration officials to discuss new flight routes and other efforts aimed at mitigating the noise emanating from the general aviation airport.
Dubbed the Bayside Visual Approach, the test path routes planes away from Peninsula and South Bay communities affected by noise from Surf Air. The service has drawn the ire of nearby residents since 2013, when Surf Air began routing flights through the county-run San Carlos Airport.
After a six-month test of the route in the second half of 2016, the FAA and Surf Air determined the route was viable, confirmed FAA spokesman Ian Gregor in an email.
“The FAA is in the process of conducting an environmental review of the proposed route, including a noise analysis,” he said in the email. “The review also will include evaluating all comments we receive. Depending on the outcome of the environmental review, the route could be implemented in 2018.”
Assistant County Manager Mike Callagy said close to three-quarters of the Surf Air planes arriving at the San Carlos Airport have been using the Bayside Visual Approach since June. Though he acknowledged the route cannot be used in low-visibility conditions, Callagy was hopeful the route over non-residential land could be one could be one of several strategies mitigating the airplane noise for residents.
“If you’re able to open up different tracks that will really help,” he said.
Callagy said the county has hired a consultant to see if there are any other alternate paths pilots can take into the airport that don’t affect neighborhoods. Given the airport’s proximity to the San Francisco International Airport, pilots flying into the San Carlos Airport sometimes need to coordinate with the high volume of planes flying into SFO, making identifying as many viable paths as possible a goal for officials, said Callagy.
He is also hopeful an updated monitoring system providing real-time data on the paths pilots are using to fly in and out of the airport as well as a new communications specialist ensuring pilots understand noise abatement procedures will ensure those using the airport navigate the applicable policies.
Surf Air spokeswoman Angela Vargo said the company has been working with public officials and residents of affected areas to address concerns about the airport noise. At previous community meetings, several Sunnyvale residents voiced concerns about use of the Bayside Visual Approach, which they said has sent an increased number of Surf Air planes over their homes.
She said the company has been able to identify a path routing pilots over industrial and less-populated areas east of the Bayside Visual Approach to reduce the frequency with which they fly over residential areas in Santa Clara County. So far, fewer noise complaints have been lodged by residents under the flight path, giving Vargas hope the service is moving in the right direction.
“My hope for the meeting honestly is just to show our support for being a good neighbor to the community and the solutions,” she said.
Callagy said a similar meeting in San Mateo County is expected to be held in the coming months.
The FAA’s community involvement workshop will be held 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium at 70 W. Hedding St. in San Jose. Comments on the Bayside Visual Approach can be submitted by emailing email@example.com or mailing written comments to Noise Concerns, AJV-W25, FAA, 1601 Lind Ave. SW, Renton, WA 98057. The comment period will be open for 30 days after the meeting.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102