Local officials have requested another meeting with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representatives, similar to one held in Palo Alto recently, to discuss noise from Surf Air, a commuter airline that started flying in and out of the San Carlos Airport in June 2013.
The July 24 meeting in Palo Alto with four FAA officials (including Glen Martin, the FAA's Western-Pacific Region regional administrator) focused on the problems with flights in and out of San Francisco International Airport. After that meeting local officials, including Supervisor Don Horsley and Atherton City Council member Elizabeth Lewis, requested another meeting to discuss Surf Air.
Local residents began complaining about the noise from Surf Air soon after the airline began using the San Carlos Airport, which is owned by San Mateo County. A working group made up of local residents and officials has been meeting with airline and airport representatives since 2013.
A petition at Change.org asking the airline to stop using the San Carlos Airport or change its route had 746 signatures on Aug. 6. The petition was posted by Calm The Skies, a group formed to combat the Surf Air noise.
Despite the efforts, the airline has continued to expand its San Carlos operations. CEO Jeff Potter said in May the airline would go from 79 round-trip flights a week to 106. The airline's latest schedule shows that expansion has taken place, and that it added another 10 weekly round-trip flights on Aug. 3.
The upcoming meeting with FAA representatives may not provide much relief, if a recent letter from the FAA to Gretchen Kelly, who manages the county-owned airports in San Carlos and Half Moon Bay, is any indication.
Kelly had asked the FAA to answer several questions from local residents about Surf Air's operations and the airport's ability to regulate them.
The July 15 response from James Lomen, the FAA's manager of the San Francisco Airports District Office, says federal law governs the services an airport must provide.
Lomen's letter, quoting from federal law, says the San Carlos Airport's federal grant funding requires it make the airport available "to all types, kinds and classes of aeronautical activities, including commercial."
The FAA letter also says the airport is allowed to adopt regulations that put into place "reasonable, and not unjustly discriminatory, conditions to be met by all users of the airport as may be necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the airport."
In response to questions from Atherton City Council member Elizabeth Lewis, airport manager Kelly said Surf Air operates under a permit agreement with the San Carlos Airport, signed by her as the airport manager. Surf Air is one of two "charter companies" operating at the airport under permit agreements, she said.
Kelly said that three other charter companies have an additional concession agreement with the county because they also lease office space at the airport, but that Surf Air does not have such an agreement. Kelly said four of the airport's charter companies operate the same Pilatus PC-12 aircraft that Surf Air uses.
Kelly said the county may not "deny access to an aeronautical business" that wants to use the airport, unless the FAA agrees to the denial.
Surf Air's latest schedule shows a total of 20 round-trip flights Monday to Thursday, 21 on Friday, five on Saturdays and 10 on Sundays for a total of 117 weekly round trips. The schedule also says that one Friday-only round trip will be eliminated on Sept. 7. That would leave the airline with 116 weekly round-trip flights. The inbound flights pass over parts of Midtown and downtown Palo Alto, and over Menlo Park, Atherton and North Fair Oaks near and west of Middlefield Road.
The flights are scheduled to arrive in San Carlos between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on weekdays, between 9:35 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and between 11:15 a.m. and 9:15 p.m. on Sundays.
Surf Air offers members unlimited scheduled flights for a monthly fee. It flies to Santa Rosa, Monterey, Sacramento, Palm Springs, Oakland, San Carlos, Truckee, Hawthorne, Santa Barbara, Burbank and Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas flights are operated in partnership with another airline, allowing Surf Air to not be governed by federal regulations regarding passenger airlines that fly in more than one state.
Complaints about noise from the San Carlos Airport may be made by calling 650-573-2666 and leaving a name, address, time of day, and phone number on the recording.
CalmTheSkies.org has more information including a link to the airline's schedule, information on how to contact public officials and updates on meetings.