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Increase in air traffic?

Original post made by Resident, Greenmeadow, on May 15, 2009

Is it just me, or has there been a significant increase in aircraft noise over Palo Alto starting early in the morning and extending to at least midnight? Saw a low-flying plane yesterday that was definitely below the 6000ft altitude requirement. Who can we call? Anyone know what's up?

Comments (5)

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Resident is definitely right. Over the past year or so, there has been a marked increase in airplane noise over my house at all hours of the day. Some weekends, my yard is very unpleasant because of the incessant low-flying jet noise from planes headed to SFO. And both small plane traffic and jets seem more numerous, and more noisy, in the evenings.

I read somewhere that the planes are coming in lower now because they're trying to save fuel. I've complained to the SFO noise abatement office (Web Link), but I get the impression that they just ignore it because there's nothing a mere individual can do when up against them and their lawyers.

The link above has a pretty nifty tool for following airplane tracks over the Bay Area. (Web Link) It clearly shows a major approach path to SFO going right over Palo Alto. I understand that they used to go further north, but because San Mateo County complained and threatned to sue, they moved the main approach to SFO from the south to Palo Alto, which is in Santa Clara county and therefor not covered by the agreement the Airport made with SFO.

I don't think individual complaints do much. Unless some elected officials get involved, SFO won't pay attention. Perhaps someone could convince the Council that noise is an environmental issue: that stuff gets all the attention nowadays.

On small plane noise, the Council could close the money-losing Palo Alto airport. But the small plane pilots from Atherton and Portola Valley have a pretty strong lobbying effort, so that probably won't happen either


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Posted by Also noticed
a resident of Midtown
on May 15, 2009 at 1:04 pm

I have also noticed the trend of more SFO bound airplanes, flying lower, with more noise. I find it disheartening to be kept awake at 11 PM or midnight by such noise.


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Posted by McGrude
a resident of College Terrace
on May 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm

The only thing I really notice is the Stanford Life Flight and CalStar medivac helicopters flying into and out of Stanford hospital. I see / hear a couple a day.




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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Yes, I think they do periodically move flight paths and see who complains. I sold our home in Sunnyvale summer 2001 and right when I put it on the market the SFO or SJS flight pattern (can't remember which airport) changed to fly right over the home! I recall it was a lot of flights and noisy. It had never done that before (nor Moffett, either for the Navy). I was upset.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 17, 2009 at 12:26 am

Bob, Thanks for the links. I'm sure you're right about individual complaints not meaning much. The late night and early morning flights seem to be most excessive lately, and I do remember something in SJ Merc recently about planes flying lower now. Will check the flight maps link you sent.

The lifeflights I'm accustomed to -- the traffic and noise increase I'm referring to are definitely SFO-bound jets.


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