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on Apr 11, 2012
Great idea! One step towards the flying cars of the future... Good luck!
Great. All we need are more low-flying planes buzzing our houses at 2am.
In the late 1960s Palo Altans were offered inexpensive helicopter rides to the San Francisco Airport. The service didn't last very long, because people preferred to drive, or just didn't trust helicopters.
This is another poorly thought-out plan.
Better to move the airport to Moffett Field, making the skies over our homes and schools safer.
I think this sounds like a great idea...not too sure how it will do. If I needed to travel to SoCal regularly, I think I would use it, rather than crowd into SFO or SJC. If you go 4 times a month, that's $200 rt - cheaper than LUV.
Let's watch and see how this plays out - I'm interested.
Surf Air plans an energy-intensive, environmentally-destructive convenience for the Few while the Many suffer yet more noise pollution added to the already-excessive flight noise from Palo Alto and San Jose airports, leaf blowers, constant construction noises, Shoreline Amphitheater (in summer), etc, etc.
Well in the 1960's you could drive to SFO at any time day or night and not get stuck in traffic; that's not true today. We are also a much richer community then we were then and until there's a HRS option they'll be at least a few folks who will pay that much to do a fast daily commute to / from LA.
Moffett is a bigger air field but I don't know if they allow commercial traffic there - and they are very close to SJC. Besides it seems they are courting the very rich of Palo Alto, MP and Atherton.
Like it or not, the airport has been in existence longer than most people have either owned or rented their homes in this area. So to complain about an existing noise source seems to be a little late in the process...that is like buying a home on Embarcadero and then start complaining about traffic.
If the plane holds 8 people and makes a run to Santa Barbara - what is the "energy-intensive, environmentally-destructive" comparison of 1 plane vs. 8 automobiles? I don't know the answer, just curious.
Mr Eyerly says they'll be flyin' the beautiful Pilatus PC-12 (Web Link) which has a takeoff distance from ground roll of 1,475 ft and a takeoff distance over a 50 foot obstacle of 2,300 ft (Web Link). Since the Palo Alto Airport has a runway length of 2,443 feet (Web Link) , that should be plenty of room, right?
> In the fourth quarter of 2011, Palo Alto's airport had 500 take-offs and landings -- just 60 percent of the airport's 30-year high, said Bob Lennox, vice president of the Palo Alto Airport Association.
Unless Bob Lennox is an idiot, which I kind of doubt since he's got us all paying for his folly, I think he probably said "500 per day".
Must be by the quarter, not by the day. 500/day would equal 50 take-offs and/or landings an hour (10-hour day) - which would be a take-off or landing event every minute of the day...which is physically impossible for that airport.
> In the fourth quarter of 2011, Palo Alto's airport had 500
> take-offs and landings
Students in training are required to practice what are called "touch-and-go" landings. The plane sets its wheels down so that the landing would have been successful, and then returns to the air again, so that it can easily repeat this exercise. Each of these touch-and-go contacts with the runway has been counted as a "take off and landing" in the past. If this is in fact going on today, the "take off and landing" numbers need to be scrutinized for these "touch and goes", and removed from the actual "take off and landing" count. Yes, the runway is being used for "touch and goes", but the number is misleading, since only one plane/pilot is responsible for a large number of "T/Ls".
BTW, Moffett Field is often used by private airplane owners. Remember, the Google Boys have offered to refurbish Hanger One if they can use it for their private jets.
There go the Baylands - and the gol, and probably the wild life. To this idea, Palo Alto 'city fathers and mothers' for once just say "NO".
> Must be by the quarter, not by the day. 500/day would equal 50 take-offs and/or landings an hour (10-hour day) - which would be a take-off or landing event every minute of the day...which is physically impossible for that airport.
The FAA website show that there were 172,814 "total operations" at PAO for 2011.
Just how loud are these "beautiful" Pilatus PC-12 planes? The Palo Alto airport IS in an environment that includes endangered species, as well as being next to East Palo Alto.
AND what would the hours of operation be? East Palo Alto's right in the take-off path, and its residents should have peace and quiet at night.
> The FAA website show that there were 172,814 "total operations"
> at PAO for 2011.
Without a breakdown of how these numbers were collected, they don't mean much. Specially, what is an "operation"? As pointed out above, a "touch and go" can be counted as a "take off and landing"? Can a taxi to the tie-down area be counted as an operation? Presumably a helicopter "take off and landing" counts too. Valid, but does one need a whole airport to land a helicopter?
The FAA number (172+K), when viewed on a 365-day year, suggests that there are an average of over 400 "operations" per day. Viewed on a 14-hour day, this comes to about 33/hour, or one every two minutes.
Major airports often claim a takeoff every minute or so (per runway) during the peak hours. So, it's pretty clear that the Palo Alto airport is not actually seeing a takeoff every two minutes, all day long, all year long.
So--time to review how these numbers are collected. They simply are too big to tell us anything meaningful.
Far too often planes landing at PA Airport illegally fly low over Midtown, instead of over the Bay, to the airport. I hope that there will be far more regulation and monitoring of flights if this new business does "take off."
Low flying planes early in the morning and very late at night are annoying, especially in the summer when our windows are open.
Just as I forecasted some time ago. For short hops for business reasons, it makes very little sense using SFO or SJC when you consider the amount of time it takes getting to the airport, through security, etc. etc. Someone is going to make a lot of money out of this and it could be passed on to Palo Alto if we start promoting our airport and build some restaurants, etc. nearby.
Of course, I also expected that there would be those who don't like the airport and don't want to see it being used by anyone other than Palo Alto residents - if at all.
Traffic noise is a component of civilization. You want quiet, move to Trona.
LOVE this idea! Hope they can make it work.
I hope that they won't hit the power towers again and shut down our electricity. These are scheduled commercial flights -- what about feeling pressured to fly in fog and bad weather, with no instrument flying at P.A. Airport? More homes in East Palo Alto would be landed on?
A Pilatus PC-12 uses 60 gallons per hour and flies about 280 miles in an hour.
If it is carrying 8 passengers then each passenger is 'using' 7.5 gallons to go 280 miles which is 37 miles per gallon. Very few passenger cars get 37 miles per gallon.
Ohhh, the Pilatus PC-12 is a nice little plane.
I can't afford the service -- how much to take a ride or two??
For the record, I am 100% for this business idea. Palo Altans do a ton of regional travel, and this will be a major convenience for some.
Let the market decide...
Any discussion of this airport should be in the context of shutting it down. Have we all gone mad? This terrible idea would mean constant buzzing over our neighborhood, a problem that's already pretty bad, great increase in deadly pollution, insufferable noise and perhaps an end to the baylands wild life as we know it. Is that the kind of place we want to live in?
@wes - there are dozens of instrument takeoffs and landings into Palo Alto airport every day. Surf Air will need 1 mile visibility to take off or land at Palo Alto.
@Chris - +1 your support. This is a great idea and a great convenience for many who need to travel around the state regularly. You can potentially land in Socal before you'd even make it to a gate at SFO. If it saves you a night in a hotel, it nearly pays for itself.
You don't like airplane noise? Then move. the Bay Area is a vibrant business community. Try Clear Lake.
Excellent business idea! I really hope it is profitable. What a delight to skip the security lines and hassle of parking at SFO and SJC. As far as the noise I doubt that it will make much difference since these pilots are professionals and following noise abatement procedures. The ones that drive you crazy are the low flying flights and/or numerous touch and go procedures. It will bring money into the community and offer wonderful convenience. It is a step in the right direction! Best of luck Surf Airlines!
> Very few passenger cars get 37 miles per gallon
Maybe true today, but what about in the future?
What is true today, however, is that cars don't need billions of dollars of government subsidy in airports and other control mechanisms to provide planes places to gas up.
If people want to own, and fly airplanes--they should do so on their own dime, and from places that don't endanger other people--such as the Palo Alto Airport.
@Walter Wallis -- and if we want to minimize air traffic noise and pollution as much as possible, we absolutely should work to that end. Of course noise is inevitable, no one expects quiet, but there is a reasonable limit. Buzzing our houses from Greenmeadow through Midtown and then to the airport well into sleeping hours is not acceptable noise. Shouldn't have to move to avoid that. This new endeavor does sound like something of benefit to only a few, but a hassle for many.
"Buzzing our houses from Greenmeadow through Midtown and then to the airport well into sleeping hours is not acceptable noise. "
There is no evidence that such activity ,"buzzing our houses", occurs. And if it does it should be promptly reported to the FAA at the Palo Alto Airport tower. Flying below 1000 ft over populated areas is prohibited except when taking off or landing and the PAO traffic patterns intentionally avoid this area and keep most of the traffic east of Bayshore.
Lots of questions. This cannot be rushed through.
We need a much clearer handle on this business since we residents are at risk with a substantive increase in close-nearby air traffic.
Safety record of the business? What is to prevent others from coming in? (What comes to mind are the revelations a few years back about the business and safety issues of "regionals" -- the sub-contractors of American, Delta etc.) Small airlines that were alleged to undepay and overwork their pilots/crew. What has materially changed? For the record, I do occasionally fly on a regional and believe me, I am selective about which one.
What really will be the level of noise pollution of the planes?
How many flights/when -- any limits/parameters? Will our property values be lowered?! (I live in Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood and I will fight this if my values will be diminished).
Will there be an increase in auto traffic and pollution (taxis, limos) to/from the airport, Highway 101/Embarcadero, city streets picking up/dropping off/transporting executives around?
Will there be an environmental impact in the Baylands (an increase in noise seems obvious, but to what extent?)
Above all - safety, to those who scoff, we DO have a tremendous number of families and children in Palo Alto not all that far from this airport -- even a new daycare center opening close nearby -- and there is the potential for a crash to be devastating. A thorough assessment of such concerns is absolutely necessary.
> Flying below 1000 ft over populated areas
> Contact the FAA
The problem is, of course, how does one know the actual height of an airplane flying at any height? There are distance measuring binoculars:
but they are very expensive. Even if a homeowner were fortunate enough to have access to some sort of distance measuring device, he would need the tail code, and possibly a video of the offending airplane to make much of a case.
Trying to talk to the FAA about the safety of people on the ground is like talking to a brick wall. For the most part, they do not respond to emails, and even if you are able to find someone in the local offices--they are not much help. Their attitude is pretty dismissive toward concerns about safety of those on the ground.
There are some on-line reporting capabilities, but without any hard proof, it becomes a clear waste of time to report a plane that has flown too low over your home without at least some sort of aircraft identification code.
Helicopters routinely flow over Palo Alto at altitudes which are lower than most aircraft. Do they have special dispensation to do so? Some of these helicopters belong to law enforcement (SCC Sheriff's Office). They usually are involved in some sort of support for the Palo Alto Police when they are overhead--so presumably they have authority to fly at these lower altitudes. They still make a lot of noise, though.
Unfortunately, the Courts have ruled consistently that local governments can not trump FAA rules/regulations. So, if the FAA doesn't do anything--that leaves residents having to fight these unlawful overflights by going after the airports--shutting them down when we can.
Has there been one pilot in the history of this airport who was punished for flying below 100f over a populated area? The answer which is probably a resounding NO is pretty much harbinger of things to come if this silly idea comes to pass. The Palo Alto neighborhoods within 2 miles of the airport, and perhaps other neighborhoods as well will see a dramatic change in their quality of life, for the worse. Extreme and frequent noise, dramatic increase in pollution and traffic, serious increase of plane crash risks, possible serious damage to the natural habitat of the baylands:a nightmare. And some posters talks casually about what a great idea this is. Unbelievable.
If you have noise complaints about the Palo Alto Airport, you can call 866-638-2344 toll free. The County tallies requests and is empowered to take action because they are required to do so under federal law. The County almost never receives airport noise complaints concerning Palo Alto. However, they often receive noise complaints about Reid-Hillview. In fact, the County is planning to install a noise monitoring system to address these complaints at Reid-Hillview (see: Web Link).
You don't need to be extremely specific about the tail number and exact altitude when you call the county's number. Obviously, any details help, especially the exact time and direction of the aircraft. Even if you don't have lots of details, it helps to call and make your voice heard.
Relax people, it's only an 8 passenger airplane- sounds like a legitimate alternative to this HSR mess
@Mike: "cars don't need billions of dollars of government subsidy".
i don't know if this helps, but when I used to fly out of PAO, we were requested to stay much higher than FAA minimums, while over Palo Alto and Stanford. I know I always did. I also know that that we were told to turn 10 degrees to avoid noise in EPA on takeoff. I did and, as far as I know, the vast majority of pilots did.
"I also know that that we were told to turn 10 degrees to avoid noise in EPA on takeoff. I did and, as far as I know, the vast majority of pilots did."
But we know that a certain percentage of the pilots don't follow those instructions and never suffer any consequences, which encourages other pilots to disregard safety and noise abatement regulations.
"But we know that a certain percentage of the pilots don't follow those instruction"
And was is the basis for this assertion? What percentage and according to what source?
The frequent buzzing over my neighborhood, and I live over a mile from the airport, multiple complaints over many years from many residents from neighborhoods as far as Midtown, and an admission by a local pilot on the TownSquare forum in the aftermath of the February 2010 crash that not all pilots follow the safety and noise abatement procedures. Is that basis enough for you or do you need satellite pictures and close-up videos too?
Anecdotal evidence does not equal "a certain percentage ".
I was trained at KPAO when I got my ASEL (Airplane Single Engine Land) rating. I was working on commercial and instrument ratings when some medical issues grounded me about 10 years ago.
The noise abatement procedures are spelled out in every publication that informs people about Palo Alto airport. Yes, on occasion, a pilot new to the area doesn't follow the procedures to the letter, but those are very rare. They usually get a call to come to the tower to go over the procedures.
Most flights coming in from Southern California approach over Moffett, not over any residential areas of Palo Alto. I know that when I would return from the SoCal area, I would slowly descend as I crossed over Santa Clara and Sunnyvale before crossing over Moffett at about 2000', then would descend to PAO's pattern altitude over the Bay.
Most Palo Alto residents who also fly are very protective of the privilege, and go out of their way to abide by the noise abatement guidelines. There are instrument approaches and departures for Palo Alto airport as well.
Turning 10 degrees towards the Bay is the typical flight path when taking off from Runway 31 in order to avoid climbing over EPA. There is a lot of misinformed hysteria about flight operations out of Palo Alto. I encourage all of you who are so negative about it to take one flying lesson out of PAO so you can learn what procedures pilots adhere to at our local airport.
"Anecdotal evidence does not equal "a certain percentage ".
Since you live in Atherton and don't have to experience the airport gifts on a daily basis, I invite you live within 2 miles of the Palo Alto airport for a month or two and experience the pleasures of buzzing and Sunday 5:30AM takeoffs and landings. Perhaps then the anecdotal will become a percentage to you.
Buzzing over neighborhoods - please...this operation is all about getting out of town, not circling over your homes for joy rides.
"There is a lot of misinformed hysteria"
Welcome to Palo Alto Online.
"Since you live in Atherton and don't have to experience the airport gifts on a daily basis,"
Wrong. I flew out of PAO for almost 20 years and I served on the Palo Alto Airport Joint Community Relations Committee from 1991-2009 including ten years as Chair of the JCRC. During my term as Chair of the JCRC I personally investigated every single complaint made regarding airplane noise/operations including using radar tracks of flights over Palo Alto that included altitude information. That real life experience just doesn't validate the charge of frequent buzzing over homes.
But you never lived in the vicinity of the airport. Flying out of it or being on an airport community board are unrelated to living on the ground. Just as being attacked by a Stealth bomber is an entirely different experience from flying it. I'll be happy to exchange my Palo Home with your Atherton home for a couple of months so can enjoy the anecdotal experience of living a couple of miles from the airport.
Daniel - You are not listening. I personally investigated every single complaint made regarding airplane noise/operations including using radar tracks of flights over Palo Alto that included altitude information. I spent hours on the ground at the addresses that had filed complaints. I spent all night at the airport monitoring traffic after the tower was closed.
Been there, done that.
There is no evidence to support your claim of frequent buzzing over homes in Palo Alto.
Getting back to the subject of this topic - the service described would be operated under FAA Part 135 rules and would almost certainly use instrument approaches and departures from PAO. Those instrument approaches and departures do NOT fly over any populated Palo Alto areas.
Really Peter? What decade was it when you spent all night at the airport monitoring traffic? Was it 20, 30, or perhaps 40 years ago? Let's talk about now. The best way for you to get an idea of the noise and buzzing, and on the very early take-offs and landings, NOW, not back in 1975 or 1985 would be to live within a couple of miles from the airport, and my offer of the use of my house still stands.
"What decade was it when you spent all night at the airport monitoring traffic"
Daniel - you are just not paying attention. As stated, I served on the Palo Alto Airport Joint Community Relations Committee from 1991-2009 including ten years as Chair of the JCRC. My night time surveys at PAO were done within the last five years - when the number of daily operations was considerably higher than it is today.
Now let's get back on topic.
And of course you were scrupulously unbiased in favor of the airport and the pilots, given your background as a pilot and corporatist.
"And of course you were scrupulously unbiased "
> If it is carrying 8 passengers then each passenger is 'using' 7.5
> gallons to go 280 miles which is 37 miles per gallon. Very few
> passenger cars get 37 miles per gallon.
So, you are saying it is 37 person-miles / gallon.
Out on the road, my '98 M3 got about 30mpg so I would expect most cars to day get at least that. Put two people in the car, and you get a person-mpg of 60. And if the plane only has 7 passengers instead of 8 ...
The thing I am curious about that I haven't heard anyone mention, is what is in it for the city of Palo Alto? How much would we charge for each 'operation'? Would it generate enough revenue to fix some of our more pathetic streets? EG. 20 operations / day @ say $100 per operation = $2000/day = $10k/week...
85% of all automobile trips have only 1 passenger.
How much would Palo Alto charge for each operation? Why don't we just put up toll booths at every entrance to the city? If you want revenue, you don't charge people to come here. You welcome them in freely, and then bleed them dry. If anything, Palo Alto should offer the air service a subsidy like other cities do.
What worries me is that if ABAG figures out the airport can be a transit hub, we'll have to build condo developments at each end of the runway.
High Speed Rail is a much better alternative, more economical, convenient way to travel North-South in California. I spent considerable time in Europe and miss the convenience of high speed trains when I come home. You can work, get up and walk, eat and drink at your pleasure during the trip instead of getting buckled up in a cramp seat waiting to land all the time.
There has been an airport there for a LONG time. Work on the times that are appropriate re: noise.
I DON'T believe that it should be closed. Keep it OPEN.
I live within the 2 mile radius that Daniel refers to.
Occasionally, I hear airplanes. Some of them are bound for SFO; when we have bad weather, like last week, some of them are bound for SJC. Some of the other, small aircraft are going to Palo Alto. Sometimes it is the Stanford helicopter.
A neighbor has a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It's louder than anything I've heard from overhead.
We live in a city with many amenities; one is an airport. Get over the "buzzing" BS.
The airport serves a transportation function, just as trains and cars do. If these guys can make a go of their service, well, that's why the airport's there!
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