News

Surf Air gets some noise from local residents

Atherton, Palo Alto and other residents upset over planes over their homes

Despite the fact that neighbors and local elected officials have been working for a year with representatives of the commuter airline Surf Air and the San Carlos airport on ways to reduce the noise impact on local residents, the turnout of more than 150 people at a public meeting in Atherton on Sept. 30 showed that many still perceive a problem.

The meeting was also attended by every member of the Atherton City Council and its city manager as well as all the candidates running for Atherton council seats in November. San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum also attended and promised to immediately get more involved.

The meeting's organizers urged even regional involvement, however, and in fact residents from numerous cities, including Palo Alto, attended.

"This isn't an Atherton problem," said Atherton resident David Fleck, who has been active in the meetings with Surf Air for the past year. "This is a problem that spans multiple cities," he said, and even multiple counties.

"You should be asking your elected officials where they stand on this situation," he said.

Supervisor Slocum said he had attended a meeting of the working group that has been meeting with airport and airline officials earlier in the day. "I left that meeting ... somewhat encouraged over what has happened in the past," he said.

He promised to call the mayors of Menlo Park and Redwood City and the rest of the Board of Supervisors, "and try to get them involved," as well as to get in touch with management of the San Carlos Airport.

Some of the speakers emphasized the need for regional cooperation to solve the problem. Richard Brand came from Palo Alto to the meeting.

"This is a regional problem and not just a local problem," said Brand, who works from his home. "This turbo prop plane is a very noisy plane."

Brand said other communities have managed to control airplane noise.

"The government will change; we just have to push," he said. "We've got to go and get regional pressure on this."

Fleck noted that of the more than 500 people who had signed an online petition asking Surf Air and the San Carlos Airport to address the noise by Sept. 30 there were 285 from Menlo Park, 112 from Atherton, 57 from Palo Alto and 31 from Redwood City.

The meeting was the second large public gathering held on the issue of Surf Air's effect on local residents. In December, a similar gathering attracted approximately 100 people, many of whom brought up similar issues. Both were sponsored by the town of Atherton.

Surf Air is a start-up airline whose passengers pay one monthly price for unlimited flights on small passenger planes. In early August the airline announced that it has new funding and has ordered 15 more eight-passenger planes to add to the three it has been flying. The airline said it plans to expand its destinations and might order as many as 50 more planes in addition to the 15.

Residents said the airline's noise is not the same as that of other planes flying over their homes.

Britt von Thaden, who lives on Berkeley Avenue in Menlo Park, said he lives under the flight paths of several airlines, but the Surf Air flights have more impact.

"It's the frequency that caught my attention," he said. "There's a lot of traffic anyway."

Sheri Shenk lives on Virginia Lane in Atherton directly under the Surf Air flight path, she said.

"The first time one flew over my house I thought I was being invaded," she said, adding that the flights shake her home. "It's changed our quality of life significantly."

Recently, Shenk said, she and her family were eating dinner outdoors when a Surf Air flight passed over.

"My grandchildren started to run for the house and ended up screaming when it went over the back yard," she said. "I call it the blue-bellied beast. I love start-ups and I love charter flights, but this is really awful."

Many of those who spoke work from their homes. Nick Peters of North Fair Oaks said he runs a recording studio from his home.

"It has damaged my business immensely," he said.

Carolyn Clebsch, who has lived in North Fair Oaks for 15 years, said she also works at home and the noise has also impacted her work.

"My business is teaching meditation and working with people who are dying," she said.

Debjani Sen from San Francisco has another perspective. Her husband works in Santa Barbara, and Surf Air has allowed him to come home every night instead of only on weekends.

"That's made a huge improvement in our lives," she said. "I hope you can work out a solution with Surf Air. Just place yourself in my shoes."

Jeff Potter, a former Frontier Airlines CEO who became Surf Air CEO in late February, said the airline is committed to working collaboratively with the community.

"We have a situation here that's negatively affecting your lives," he acknowledged. He said the airline is going to test using a new propeller that may be quieter. They also are hoping that pressure from local officials might open up Moffett Field to commercial flights such as Surf Air's. "We would love to be there," he said.

"We can effect change," he said.

The group of residents who have been working with Surf Air, who call themselves, CalmTheSkies, will next meet on Oct. 14, at 6 p.m. in Atherton's Council Chambers, 94 Ashfield Road.

"We need not just ideas," Fleck said. "We need people willing to execute those ideas."

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2014 at 2:38 pm

This sounds like a wonderful idea for a company filling a need and anyone who thinks that private airports are for rich folks and their playthings must be wrong.

However, it does sound that there should be some real work done on how these planes can be quietened. Would coming in over the Bay and departing over the Bay make a difference? Would better suppressors on the engines make a difference?

Transportation of all kinds is crucial to this valley. Commercial flights for short distances at our major airports take too much time and are likely to be the first to experience weather or congestion delays. Air taxi services and companies like Surf Air are meeting a need that the business community has.

Palo Alto Airport should be winning some of this business. But the right type of rules should be put in places as soon as possible. I hope that whoever is in charge of PAA has experience in this as well as experience of running an airport.


4 people like this
Posted by Austin S
a resident of Atherton
on Oct 1, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Interesting topic. I too attended last night's meeting, and found that people like creating fairy tales. It's perfectly normal, but they are ALL fictional. I am a resident of and a student of Atherton, and I am supposedly under the flight patterns of Surf Air as well. While I hear planes throughout the day, I have never seen any of Surf Air's planes. Just small, private, Cessna-like planes. Again, NONE are Surf Air's nor do they shake, rattle, or roll my home.

In regards to the safety aspects of Surf Air's planes, it is common knowledge to any aviation enthusiast, that a single
engined plane is much more reliable than say a Boeing 747.

In regards to the noise, it isn't there.

In regards to the person who read a statistic of "89 deaths in the same plane used by Surf Air."... Hmm, let's see... Remember Malaysian Airlines? Boeing? Planes, like cars, crash. Tesla's Model S burst into flames a couple of times, like Chevrolet's Volt, but you still see Rick DeGolia driving one.

In regards to the woman, who last night said something along the lines of, "Sometimes, I look up and, *bang* *bang* Of course, I never would." You needn't reside in this country. Join your caliber of people in Iraq. It's only September thirtieth, get a clue.

Bottom line, let's put our taxes to work, the right way. Let's go back to working on an issue that truly exists, like the idea of a high speed rail zipping through our neighborhoods.


6 people like this
Posted by Fairy
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 1, 2014 at 3:40 pm

fair-y tale
noun
a fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.

de-ni-al
the action of declaring something to be untrue.
failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or to admit it into consciousness, used as a defense mechanism.

There are almost 600 people (and growing) who who have declared that the Surf Air noise is not a fairy tale.
Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Steve Wallace
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Where do these people think they live? Surf Air planes do make noise. I live under the approach pattern for SFO. Those planes make as much noise sometimes as Surf Air. We live in a changing world and a dynamic area. San Carlos airport has been around probably longer than most Atherton (or any other local city) residents. I would bet that most of the patrons of Surf Air live in one of the communities where people are protesting, and add to their quality of life by using Surf Air. Get real people. Atherton residents need to figure out a way to get building contractors to build a house in less than two years.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2014 at 4:59 pm

> the noise isn't there ..

There are a lot of people in/around Atherton who disagree.

What's missing here are some bona fide noise measurements. How hard would it be for the City of Atherton to hire a team to measure the sound associated with these airplanes, and get the data to the press, and the FAA?

Something is really wrong when a groups of the world's richest (and presumably the best educated) people in the world can't seem to think their way out of wet paper bag.

Either there is noise, or there isn't. We have to keep in mind that noise does not uniformly distribute itself through the air. It's quite possible to be loud in some sections of the neighborhoods surrounding an airport, and not so loud in others.

Only a good measurement will tell us what is going on.


2 people like this
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

@ Fairy,

How come the map of the impacted area as posted on change.org includes only North Palo Alto? I can guarantee you that we can hear Surf Air planes loud and clear in the southern half of Palo Alto as well. And it impacts schools here too, such as El Carmelo. Your map seems to imply the problem starts north of Oregon Expressway.

Personally, I never like anything that pits or can potentially pit north Palo Alto vs south Palo Alto, especially when both parts of town have the same problem.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2014 at 5:33 pm

The flight tracks linked below show the scale of the problem. flights departing from San Carlos (primarily SurfAir) are shown in an olive-green color, and are easiest to see on the chart for Monday June 2, 2014 (scroll down in the PDF). SFO arrivals are shown in red.

The tracks are from before SFO finished the recent runway construction. Since then the traffic over Palo Alto has increased. Last Friday September 26th, 2104, SFO's noise abatement office reported that 281 aircraft flew over Palo Alto on their way to SFO.

1 day of air traffic over Palo Alto: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2014 at 5:48 pm

> Last Friday September 26th, 2104, SFO's noise abatement office reported that
> 281 aircraft flew over Palo Alto on their way to SFO

But at what altitude?

The high-flying big jets don't make that much noise. It's not hard to hear noise from the Palo Alto airport--which aircraft are on the ground. And then there are the low-flying helos that seem to be going to Stanford Hospital, making a LOT OF NOISE!

We need altitude and noise data to go along with these flyover tracks.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Joe,

If you take the time to look at the charts I provided, you will see that most of the flights transiting Palo Alto airspace are on approach to SFO. Flights on approach to SFO typically cross Menlo IAF at 3,800-4,000'. SurfAir traffic flies under the SFO approach traffic.

1 day of air traffic over Palo Alto: Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 1, 2014 at 6:42 pm

We all have discussed the problem of Surf Air since it's inception into the bay area airspace. San Carlos Airport is well aware of the controversy regarding the airline but needs the income generated by it's presence.

It also produces jobs for the local people at the airport.

The unfortunate fact is that the type plane used is extremely noisy, they take it down Middlefield Road over all of the school systems. They fly below the SFO planes.

There should be some action to have them fly over the bay and approach the San Carlos airport from the bay - not over the cities below.

If you are familiar with the San Jose Airport flight tracker system you can identify the plane(s) by it's tail number and flight plan.

This is not the beautiful planes you see advertised which are true small jets which use the private and small plane section at SFO and fly higher.

I hope that the county of San Mateo is able to prevail in putting the flight plan over the bay. This is not just a noise issue - it is a security issue.


Like this comment
Posted by Airplane Noise in PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2014 at 8:45 pm

A group of residents have been looking into aircraft noise impacting Palo Alto.

To learn more, contact paairportnoisegroup@gmail.com

A recent letter signed by Ana Eshoo addresses some of the issues,

Web Link



1 person likes this
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

"Health, well-being and property values" are cited as the primary reasons for the request made by Eshoo & others in Congress to the FAA to regulate noise levels down.

Yup, property values really stink here. :-/


1 person likes this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2014 at 1:15 am

Chris,

The letter was not just signed by Anna Eshoo. It was signed by 26 congressional representative from all over the country. This problem is bigger than Crescent Park.

Effects of Airport Noise on Housing Value: Web Link

"A Congressional Letter to FAA, Seeking to Reduce Aviation Noise Impacts"
Aviation Impact Reform ~ September 17, 2014 Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2014 at 8:17 am

The official SFO web site has a program called Flight Tracker. This is a commercial based system which tracks all arriving and departing planes at SFO both graphically - with plane symbols and also with status sheets. You can click on a plane which will tell you its flight plan, specifications as to type plane, commercial owner, and altitude. You can track the planes progress as it moves through the air space. There is a delay between real time and reported graphic display which is intentional.

Flight Tracker is a feature of all major airports - you can access data from other airports from this program.

San Jose Mineta has a similar program on their official website which tracks all airplane traffic, including small planes at San Carlos and Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay Airports. This is a different commercial program.

You need to have the JAVA program on your computer to view the data - but if you don't have it you can update to add that capability. Note information that became available during the Malaysia searches that the programs do have holes in them and plug data where those holes exist. The data is what the FAA requires as to altitude.

Joe, et all - if you have not checked out what is available from the actual official web-sites of airports then do that as it is interesting and an eye-opener. You can do this yourself. Added feature is that if you become a regular user of Flight Tracker you will receive data on an upcoming flights with specifics as to gate number, type plane, any delays, etc. Very useful if you travel a lot.


3 people like this
Posted by Treena
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 2, 2014 at 9:16 am

Thank you to Richard Brand for representing Palo Alto. Low flying planes and frequency of planes have become a big problem for many residents in Palo Alto, including myself. This problem is bigger than just Surf Air. It is the mass number of planes arriving at SFO and these planes flying under 5,000 feet at all hours of the day. My question has always been, why can't the planes on arrival to SFO fly up the 85 freeway and then over the bay to start their descent into SFO? Then the planes wouldn't have to fly over residential neighborhoods and if they fly over the 85 freeway they could fly over 5,000 feet and then once over the bay they can start their descent. As for Surf Air flying under the SFO path, they are just adding to the bigger problem.

To Midtowner - I don't like to pit the north against the south either, but I think the reason north Palo Alto is represented on the map is because we get more planes flying over head due to the fact that we are located right under the Menlo Intersection where two major plane paths converge. We not only get the SFO arrivals from the south but we also get the looping planes coming from the north and looping over us to head back to SFO. You can see on Jetman's link in the above post. Where the two heavy red lines converge, that is over North Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:02 am

Reference to HWY 85 - San Jose Mineta uses that Arrival path - usually in the morning when there is cloud cover. And they do not fly over 5,000 feet. They are under 3,000 feet and make their rotation in South Palo Alto / Moffatt Field to head into San Jose using a north approach vs a south approach which they use later in the day.

Oakland also uses the lower flight path heading to Hawaii so they are not competing with SFO arrivals in the same area.


Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:44 am

Treena,

The area of study for the flight-tracks was set up to capture aircraft transiting Palo Alto and the heavily populated portions of Stanford University. The 1.75 mile radius centered at the intersection of California Av. and Birch St. circumscribes almost all of Palo Alto and Stanford back to about Junipero Serra.

This area is represented by a pale pinkish circle superimposed on the flight-tracks. As you can see the problem is pretty evenly distributed over all of Palo Alto with the exception of the the heavy red vertical streak which passes over College Terrace, South Gate, the eastern corner of Paly High, Professorville, and Crescent Park. The neighborhood map linked below may help you orient the flight-tracks to Palo Alto's neighborhoods.

1 day of air traffic over Palo Alto: Web Link

Palo Alto Neighborhood Map: Web Link




3 people like this
Posted by resident 4
a resident of Atherton
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:03 am

SurfAir flies at between 1200-1600 feet above the homes in our neighborhood...sometimes even lower. There is another low-flying charter service that uses the same approach to San Carlos airport. We rarely notice the second, but the first is loud enough to wake us out of sleep early in the morning. Why is that? SurfAir has chosen one of the noisiest planes there is.

When the Life-Saving helicopters fly over, we are grateful, knowing that this is the most efficient way to move a dangerously ill or hurt person to a place where life may be preserved. No problem. When the noisy trains roll by, we accept that if one lives near the path of a train, there will be intermittent noise. This is not the same, and those of you commenting who do not live directly under the flight path really lack the experience to make a cogent comment.

It is true that we live in the Silicon Valley ... hub of international business and one of the most dynamic centers in the world. It is a fact of life that everyone benefits from the travelers coming and going. It is also a fact that a very noisy commuter service, flying low at high decibel levels over at minimum 6 schools and innumerable home businesses from Palo Alto through Redwood City is not acceptable.

There are other approaches to San Carlos that would not entail flying over residential areas or schools. If you were at the meeting, you would have heard a very experienced pilot - one who has flown the same Pilatus into San Carlos for years without creating this kind of noise pollution - as he pinpointed the flight path he follows. Seems like quite an easy fix, if that path is available every hour throughout the day for SurfAir's landings.

No one mentions in the above comments that there are very bright people who are working diligently on a solution. There is also a new CEO at SurfAir who is actively pursuing a solution. I believe that this is a problem that can and will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Let's hope we can move on to work on the many difficult issues that affect the wider group of residents.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:11 am

Many SFO planes coming in from the Pacific area arrive over Los Altos Hills, come down South Palo Alto and rotate north over the Menlo station. The planes that are arriving from the northwest come down the peninsula and rotate in south Palo Alto area to turn north for arrival in SFO. I think the Menlo station is part of the northward arrival path but south Palo Alto is the rotation point to get into the queue for the arrival path. I believe that the instruction for the arrival queue is in the south area.

Planes coming from the east coast are arriving over Fremont and the bay - we typically do not have those planes in the Pacific queue.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:38 am

I get the feeing that Surf Air intentionally flies over the school systems for PA, Atherton, RWC to "drum up business". They mistakenly believe that
that is how they call attention to themselves. They don't seem to realize that everyone dislikes them and considers them a nuisance.

Guess what you can fly a small jet owned by Delta, United, etc from SFO or San Jose to the smaller cities. They are safer and conform to higher safety standards.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

> if you have not checked out what is available from the actual official
> web-sites of airports then do that as it is interesting and an eye-opener.

Thanks. But have known about this program for several years now. While it is helpful in tracking flights you want to meet at the airport, how useful is it in actually determining noise in our neighborhoods? It's the low flying plances out of the small airports that currently seem to be the problem. We have had problems in the past with commercial flights over some Peninsula cities, and of course, neighborhoods surrounding the big airports are always subject to the landing/takeoff noise.

What's needed locally, it is submitted, is a similar tracking mechanism that allows residents of cities surrounding the smaller airports to track flights into/out of the airports that are sadly, jammed up into their living space.

Gathering noise data shouldn't be that hard. It's a real shame that the City of Palo Alto has failed its residents for decades by not measuring the noise originating from the Palo Alto airport. As this venture will doubtless end up in the red, there will be increasing scrutiny of the facility, the users of the facility, and the impacts on the neighborhoods within a five mile radius.

We have the technology to collect, manage and display all of the impact data that is associated with these smaller airports. What we don't seem to have is the will to force the city governments where these airports are located to represent all of the people--not just the rich few who can afford the expensive toys that require these large playpens--mostly subsidized by much poorer taxpayers.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Joe - you are answering your own questions. You raised the question of altitude and it is very clear on the San Jose Mineta official website - that is for all planes including Palo Alto and San Carlos - home of Surf Air.
Once we get the PA airport under local control then we should be able to demand a noise tracker - it seems obvious since the FAA has a office at that location.
Or is that the reason that we do not have a noise tracker. It seems that the noise tracker issue is a major thorn - we need to resolve that this year. I suspect that the FAA does not want a noise tracker since it will interfere with their intentions for the airport. Possibly PAO also does not want a noise tracker if they are trying to figure out how to encourage a commercial venture at their location. time to cut to the chase on that issue.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm

While altitude is one of the data items needed--it's the noise that is making people's lives difficult. We also need the noise/altitude/plane ID data in a downloadable format--which can be used to identify individual planes, dates, times when these places were flying over our town. This data needs to be put in a database that can demonstrate that individuals, or companies, are not complying with FAA rules.

This is another of the issues that should be on this year's campaign agenda. Why has Palo Alto taken over this airport--that clearly has always not been able to pay its own way, and has always generated noise, and safety concerns, for the residents who have lived near the flight zones.

At the moment, no one associated with the City's operations of this boondoggle seems remotely aware of the problems that this airport will doubtless impose on our community.



Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I read recently that Surf Air will soon be operating out of an additional airport in the San Francisco Bay Area. Surf Air can solve the noise problem identified by Atherton residents when the planes origin and destination are moved from the San Carlos Airport to the Palo Alto Airport.


Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Hmmm... I heard that SurfAir originally wanted to operate out of PAO, but decided on San Carlos because PAO was still transitioning ownership from Santa Clara County, to Palo Alto.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mike Embley
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm

>Palo Alto Airport should be winning some of this business.

Ha! The runway at Palo Alto has a dangerous depression in the runway, bad enough that a warning about it is always part of the airport's information for pilots broadcast. Why hasn't the runway been resurfaced in many years? Because the city won't take federal money for the repairs, as that would mean giving up the option to permanently close the airport at their own discretion. Nobody visible in city government has any interest in seeing any business development at the airport.


Like this comment
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Mike,

Palo Alto inherited Airport Improvement Program funds (and obligations) when they took over PAO from Santa Clara County. Palo Alto also recently put an additional $1.6M into PAO.


1 person likes this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 2, 2014 at 4:57 pm

" it is common knowledge to any aviation enthusiast, that a single engined plane is much more reliable than say a Boeing 747."

Common knowledge to enthusiasts, not to pilots. A 747 engine quits, the 747 keeps flying. A single-engine engine quits, the zero-engine plane comes down.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 5:31 pm

> Why hasn't the runway been resurfaced in many years?

Airport paving at PAO is usually funded by federal AIP (airport improvement program) grants. Previously, Santa Clara County ran the Palo Alto Airport, in addition to Reid-Hillview in San Jose and South County Airport in San Martin. The County was sued by Garlic City Skydivers because they wanted to operate out of South County Airport. As a result of the lawsuit, the County was unable to access federal AIP funds. One of the reasons for the rush to take over PAO by the City was to get AIP funds during the during the current funding cycle. Since the County no longer runs PAO, the funding restriction related to the lawsuit no longer applies.

As another poster wrote, the City of Palo Alto has already contributed over a million and a half dollars to PAO for operations and improvements. As an incentive to get Palo Alto to take back operations from the County, the County wrote off the accumulated deficit they incurred while running PAO. The exact number was disputed by the County, City and PAO supporters, but was between half and three quarters of a million dollars. PAO already has AIP grant restrictions and agreed to abide by the ones incurred by the County as a condition of the FAA approving the management transfer. So, there's no possibility of PAO closing within the next nearly 20 years. Furthermore, the PAO business plan created by airport supporters relies heavily on federal AIP grants now and into the future.

When they started, Surf Air named the Palo Airport as one of their possible destinations. Given the noise issues they've created, it will be interesting to see what kind of tension this generates with the airport's neighbors.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Hopefully another airport of interest to Surf Air is the Hayward Executive Airport as it has better facilities and a longer runway. Many tech companies are now located in the east bay so that is a good match. Since a long term option is what they would be looking for they need a good facility with full service. Also San Jose has a large executive area now.


2 people like this
Posted by Paul Ling
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

" it is common knowledge to any aviation enthusiast, that a single engined plane is much more reliable than say a Boeing 747."

What "aviation enthusiasts" are you referring to, completely ignorant ones? What an absolutely absurd statement. I fly single engine airplanes a couple of hundred hours a year, fully aware that I may need to execute a forced landing at any moment. There are dozens of forced landings caused by power loss in the US every year. Try to find even ONE incident of a four engine jetliner (or even a twin engine jetliner in recent decades) forced down by power loss.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2014 at 10:09 am


> Palo Alto also recently put an additional $1.6M into PAO.

This is money that came out of our (the resident’s) general fund—money that is supposed to benefit all of the residents, not an elite group of non-residents. This airport has been a financial embarrassment to everyone of its operators—meaning that as the loses continue to mount, all of the General Fund dollars will be lost.

Of course, the City could sell this enterprise to a private sector outfit. But given that the land is worth over $5M an acre—the price would not likely be in the range that any intelligent private sector operator would be interested to buying it.

> A single-engine engine quits, the zero-engine plane comes down.

Absolutely true. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. My father, a WWII pilot used to say: once the plane loses its engine--it has the glide angle of a rock.

> Airport paving at PAO is usually funded by federal AIP
> (airport improvement program) grants.

This is true—but it is only true since this was the decision of the County Airport Management, and the County Supervisors. The underlying problem is that the users of these airports don’t want to pay what it costs to build them, maintain them, and operate them. The users, the greedy pilots, want the government to stick its big maw into the pockets of hardworking taxpayers to pay for their toys, and their playpens.

If the true costs of keeping this airport open were to be distributed among those who use it--and no one else—then it’s unlikely it would be open for very long.

The PAO is a money pit, that will never stop sucking the taxpayers dry!
-----


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Embley
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 10:38 am

>So, there's no possibility of PAO closing within the next nearly 20 years.

Thanks for updating me, I appreciate it.

Now...how can we fix the damn runway before somebody gets killed?


1 person likes this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

The real, and full, cost of these airports is never really calculated. Any benefits must be weighted against the costs. What are the costs of increased cardiovascular disease which is associated with aircraft noise? What are the cost in productivity due to sleep disruption? What are the costs in lost property values due to the noise? What are the costs to the taxpayers in the form of government subsidies that are used to maintain these airports?

"NextGen" is a perfect example of the government largess that forms the foundation of the aviation industry.

"NextGen" was originally forecast to cost $40 billion, split between government and industry, and to be completed by 2025. But an internal FAA report estimates it will cost three times that much and take 10 years longer to complete... FAA officials have largely stopped talking about end dates and completion costs as the technologies that make up NextGen continue to evolve."

"After a decade of work and billions of dollars spent, the modernization of the U.S. air traffic control system is in trouble"
Associated Press ~ October 28, 2013 Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2014 at 11:58 am

In a previous stream on this topic it was pointed out that the costs associated with the airport were tabulated against the airport but the income was put into the County general plan with no identifier as being airport specific. So any conversation on the cost of the airport is inaccurate.

Hopefully now that the airport is in the management of the city then the income generated from the airport will not go into the city general plan but correctly be reported against the costs of the airport so that we can realistically plan for any upgrades and revenue generation.


1 person likes this
Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 3, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Don't you guys have more worrying things to worry about? I mean theres war, ebola, and Justin Bieber. I see most of the people against surf air and other aircrafts flying in the sky are more concerned about their "quality of life" than anything else. Just sad.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 4, 2014 at 9:10 am

Concerned Citizen - if you are not interested in this topic then why are you even reading it. The topic is aircraft in the airspace so that is what we are addressing. The topics you threw out are not topics on the overall PA On-Line system.

We did have a topic on the amount of traffic on the Page Mill / 280 convergence which may be more to your quality of life issues. After all - eventually you have to get out of the hills to do something. Or how about building low cost housing in the PA Hills? There are a lot of issues which should be more relevant to your interests which may not be of interests to other people.

Or maybe you are an investor in Surf Air or have a plane at the PAO and are not pleased with the focus on this issue.

Side Note - there is now a TV show on Airline Repos - one of which was at Hayward Airport - very expensive high end jet. So everyone who has a plane today may not tomorrow if you don't keep up the payments. You could be on TV as a repo.


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Posted by KNUQ
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

What about Moffett? Google and NASA seem close to finalizing the lease deal. Will some portion of the permitted flight operations be commercial traffic or is that completely off the table?


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 4, 2014 at 11:37 am

Moffett is classed as a government facility which houses a number of government functions including FEMA, NASA, and reserves for military air force activities. They have a problem of hazardous waste which is being reviewed by the EPA which is seeping into the housing units across the freeway, and commercial properties. Google has built a facility at the San Jose Airport for its aircraft.

The cities of Sunnyvale and Mountain View have previously fought small aircraft landing at Moffett, as well as any commercial flights for Fed-Ex.

The business case for Surf Air at PAO is not there - they would face too much opposition which would prevent their growth at that airport, as well as physical limitations on size of runway.

Major growth for Surf has a better business case at San Jose, or Hayward. The Tesla major factory is in Fremont, Space-X is in SOCAL so assume a lot of interchange. Also a lot of new commercial growth in the Fremont, Hayward areas. The Hayward Executive Airport can handle a full jet - assume personal jets for Tesla, etc. that need a full-up location to land near their businesses.

There is also a private commuter jet section at SFO.

I think the decision for Surf at San Carlos at this time is lack of funds to support a larger airport location. San Carlos also needs the funds to stay in business. If Surf Air is successful they will need to move up to larger facilities.

The push at this time is to get them out of the Middlefield airspace where many schools for PA, MP, Atherton, and RWC are located. They persists in this action because they are short of funds and cannot afford to go up the bay and cross into San Carlos for the bay side. It is like Barnum and Bailey - beat the drums to tell people you are here. Does not work on a daily basis.

It is all about the money.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Concerned Citizen,

Let me know what you are doing about war, ebola, and the Justin Bieber problem... maybe I can help.


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Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2014 at 1:32 pm

At the start of the September 22, 2014, City Council meeting, the City Manager announced at the beginning of the meeting (during City Manager's comments) that, "On September 17th, the Federal Aviation Administration -- the FAA -- authorized the transfer of the airport and named the City of Palo Alto as the official sponsor of the airport. And today I received the airport operating certificate from the state Department of Aeronautics. And the FAA has authorized the grant that we were pursuing for improving the runway and taxiway."

How many additional years does acceptance of this grant require Palo Alto to operate the airport?

Do the improvements to the runway and taxiway paid for by the grant make it more likely that Surf Air will operate from the Palo Alto Airport?

Video tape of City Manager's comments at Web Link starting at about 1:55.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Deep Throat,

>Do the improvements to the runway and taxiway paid
>for by the grant make it more likely that Surf Air
>will operate from the Palo Alto Airport?

Acceptance of AIP grants make it very difficult for Palo Alto to refuse any operator, use of the airport. Note... the FAA considers Palo Alto the "sponsor" of the airport, not the owner.


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Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2014 at 2:54 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

Deep Throat, Jetman, and resident 1,

"operating certificate from the state Department of Aeronautics. And the FAA has authorized the grant that we were pursuing for improving the runway and taxiway."

Did this current City Council pull yet another secret arrangement without transparency, or has it been common knowledge that the City has been grooming itself for Surf Air.

Weekly,

Have you also missed out on reporting on this?

This preview given by Atherton residents is not good. I'm beginning to respect Atherton a whole lot more, and maybe selling Palo Alto and buying Atherton is the next play.


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Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

I wonder if this is one of those situations where we will be told that the airplane itself is a benefit.

How much does it cost to improve the runway and taxiway anyway, the amount of these grants?

More or less than what it takes to re-decorate the first floor of CIty Hall.




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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Resident3,

Bingo! This is how development is done in Palo Alto. The developers and the City Manager work quietly behind closed-doors to tee projects up to be a fait-accompli, while residents run around trying to figure out how to close the gate, long after the horse is gone.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Jetman,

The recent grand jury indictment over the Ariillaga affairs was glossed over as a mistake. I wonder how this one would be explained.

With Arrillaga, we all figured as much, and the Weekly reported enough bits and pieces, but this airport and Surf Air information seems to be very hush hush (unlike Surf Air airplanes).

Not fair Deep Throat, if you know more, it would be nice of you to share.


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Posted by iconoclast
a resident of University South
on Oct 4, 2014 at 4:23 pm

"Note... the FAA considers Palo Alto the "sponsor" of the airport, not the owner."

But Palo Alto owns the land the airport squats on. It should charge PAO market rent.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm

If you have been to the San Carlos Airport you will note that it has advantages over PAO. Good runway, lots of hanger space, and easy access to Atherton up to SFO. I suspect that if Atherton people have planes that is where they are so it is of benefit to them to have a profit producing entity on the property. Just clean up the noise. San Carlos is now going into a building boom for the property along the CALTRAIN tracks. Apartments and hotel.
If you have visions of our local millionaires using Surf Air you can forget it - they have their own company JETS.

Also - Foster City and Redwood Shores have many high tech companies which may use Surf Air.

If I was trying to get to an airplane at PAO that is leaving on schedule - yes there are other paying customers - then that is where the major freeway gridlock is.

Bottom line is that we now can demand a noise tracker since we control the airport. It will serve us for PAO, SFO and San Jose when the climate changes up their flight paths. That gives us some documented facts as to what is going down at that location.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm

> In a previous stream on this topic it was pointed out that the costs
> associated with the airport were tabulated against the airport but
> the income was put into the County general plan with no identifier
> as being airport specific.

This is true.

> So any conversation on the cost of the airport is inaccurate.

Not so much inaccurate, as indeterminate.

We can determine some of the costs and revenues--from on-the-table sources. It's the sources under the table that are much harder to deal with.

For instance, the Feds charge a hefty tax for fuel sold at airports. This money should be seeen as a revenue (even if only indirectly) for each airport. Unfortunately, this money ends up in the FAA budget, and is not broken out by airport.

Other taxes, such as SCC property tax (tax on the airplanes themselves), goes into the County's general fund, with no way to link it back to each airport where the plane is kept. This was a failure on the part of the County. Now, Palo Alto will not see any of that property tax, other than perhaps through new grants that somehow are linked to local airports--should such grants ever materialize in the future.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2014 at 6:07 pm

> Bottom line is that we now can demand a noise tracker since we control the airport.

In theory this is possible. But will bet you a month's salary that no one on the City Council, or the City Manager's Office, will ever take such a suggestion seriously.

It will take a ballot item to force the hand of those people who are running this airport for their wealthy non-resident friends, and business associates.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 4, 2014 at 9:06 pm

My understanding of us taking over the airport from the county obviously is short on facts.
Why wouldn't PA get credit for the property tax on the planes? It is on our property.
Why wouldn't we get credit for the gas tax if PAO is pumping the gas?
Why are we dependent on county grants since we are no longer associated with the county?

Time for the accounting facts to be laid out for this effort so we can see what the income items are and what the expenses are. If this is suppose to be an income producing effort - or at least a self-supporting effort then all of the data needs to be available to determine where we as a city go from here. We need facts - opinions don't count.


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Posted by longing for quiet skies
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2014 at 6:54 am

I'm so glad to see this issue is being addressed in Atherton. Palo Alto should also be actively involved in addressing this noise problem. The air noise during this past few months has been horrible. It certainly has changed quality of life for our area in N. Palo Alto. We can hear constant air traffic in our yard. We can hear air traffic inside our home early in the morning and late at night. One plane after another crosses our skies. I am not sure which air ports these planes are flying to. Some are large, some small-all too noisy. I hope our Palo Alto representatives see this problem as a serious one affecting our whole community. I also hope our newly acquired small Palo Alto Airport does not make this worse.

Atherton neighbors, please make sure all public meetings about this air noise problem are announced in advance in Palo Alto papers so that we can deal with it as a community problem on the Peninsula.


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Posted by Treena
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

I think that SFO is having much more of an impact on our quality of life here in Palo Alto, than our local airport or Surf Air. The arrivals into SFO flying over Palo Alto are disproportionate to other surrounding cities. Palo Alto is taking the brunt. It's important to send in complaints because they are added to the monthly report that goes to the roundtable.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2014 at 11:47 am

> Why wouldn't PA get credit for the property tax
> on the planes? It is on our property.

The planes are taxed as unsecured property of each owner, by the County. That is a County tax, which is applied no matter where the plane is kept. Palo Alto does not receive “credit” for this unsecured property, in any direct fashion. And the planes are not Palo Alto's property. And in case you don't know--the grounds of the airport, as City Property, are tax exempt.

> Why wouldn't we get credit for the gas tax
> if PAO is pumping the gas?

This is a Federal tax, which is uniformly applied across all US airports. Dollars collected at the PAO go into the FAA’s General Fund. No doubt the FAA keeps track of the dollars generated by these taxes as a routine book keeping matter, but it does not return those dollars to the airports where they were generated in any direct way. For instance, the FAA operates the tower at the PAO. The funds for this Federal intervention in the operation of the airport is not linked to the gas tax. The funds for the Tower Operation come from the General Fund.

> Why are we dependent on county grants since
> we are no longer associated with the county?

You miss the point. The dollars that used to come to the PAO from County sources will now dry up—unless, and this only a supposition, that the County does offer the PAO grants. Remember, most of the people using the PAO are not Palo Alto residents, but are SC County residents (and SM County, too). This is only a supposition, and the PAO will not be “dependent” on the County for any particular thing. The PAO will be dependent on the taxpayers of Palo Alto for funding that is not generated by the users of the airport.

If the PAO were to really be "dependent" on sources of funds beyond those generated by the users and the PA taxpayers--it would be the FAA, and the never-ending giveaway of Federal funds to the owners of general aviation aircraft.


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Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Longing and Treena,

The flight-tracks linked below will give you a good idea which airports are responsible for the increase in aircraft noise over Palo Alto. All of the red lines are SFO bound arrivals, and they are flying 1,000" lower than they were a year or so ago. SurfAir arrivals into SQL are shown in an olive gray-green color.

1 day of air traffic over Palo Alto: Web Link


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Did anyone else hear the jet this morning? It sure rattled some windows and set the neighborhood dogs to barking. I'm grateful that this doesn't happen more often.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Concerned Citizen from the Palo Alto Hills - now we can focus on your quality of life regarding the 7.7 acres in the hills. You may be seeing more traffic in the hills.

If you go to the SU Jasper Ridge site you will note that airplane noise is a recorded problem at that location - enough to note it in their blog.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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