News


FAA report looks to change SFO-arrivals path

Federal agency evaluates the feasibility of 104 recommendations submitted in October

A new flight path that would reduce noise over Palo Alto and surrounding cities is being developed by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a recently released report.

The change from the so-called SERFR flight path, which goes from San Francisco International Airport over the Santa Cruz Mountains before traveling southwest, was one of 104 responses the FAA addressed following recommendations made by two airplane-noise committees: the Select Committee on South Bay Arrivals and the San Francisco International Airport/Community Roundtable.

U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier and Sam Farr, convened the temporary 12-member Select Committee, which held 10 public hearings and developed a 35-page report of recommended changes. It submitted the report to the FAA in October 2016. The longstanding SFO Roundtable, which represents cities in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, submitted a separate recommendations report.

Thousands of residents, particularly in Palo Alto where three flight paths cross, were in an uproar after the FAA implemented NextGen, a program it launched in 2015 designed to overhaul the air-traffic system and free up airspace by putting planes in narrow corridors. That system has created increased noise levels by lowering altitudes, putting planes in a narrower travel band and increasing the frequency of aircraft flying over specific areas.

Of particular concern, NextGen moved the flight path of planes arriving from the south at SFO more to the east, putting aircraft over some coastal residents in the Santa Cruz area who had not previously been in the flight path. The previous flight path, called Big Sur, was replaced with SERFR, which put more and lower air traffic over Palo Alto.

The Select Committee recommended creating a new arrival route over the Big Sur ground track and developing a new route as an Optimized Profile Descent, which would enable aircraft to descend in a quieter, idle-power setting instead of using "speed brakes" that require noisier throttling. The FAA characterized the new route as "feasible" and said it has completed developing its conceptual route -- the first phase of its development. The FAA will create a working group to design the route and have an environmental and safety review before reaching a final decision. The entire process is anticipated to take 18 to 24 months, according to the report.

The FAA's report, "Phase Two Initiative to Address Noise Concerns of Santa Cruz/Santa Clara/San Mateo/San Francisco Counties," has addressed 13 percent of the recommendations thus far.

The FAA has characterized an additional 14 percent of recommendations as "feasible," which could be implemented in either the short term (less than two years) or long term (more than two years). Those recommendations include routing planes down the bay at night and modifying so-called restricted Class B airspace so that planes can use quieter idle-power descents rather than noisier speed brakes.

The agency is evaluating 52 percent of the additional recommendations. Another 21 percent were either not endorsed by the Select Committee or are deemed outside the FAA's purview.

The report also outlines a broad timetable for resolving each of the recommendations, ranging from weeks and months to years, depending on how many layers of study, review and rule-making each will require. The FAA can address some of the proposed changes without formally changing federal rules; others must go through cumbersome evaluation and adoption.

Some recommendations cannot be addressed until the FAA completes another recommendation. A proposal to raise the altitude on a Mineta San Jose International Airport arrival route, for example, can't be evaluated until the FAA completes a design for a Big Sur overlay route because of the interaction between the two paths, the agency wrote.

The FAA said that several recommendations are not within its purview. It has directed to the aircraft industry concerns about retrofitting a certain class of aircraft with wake vortex generators to reduce noise. Airbus A320 aircraft built before 2014 make a whistling or whining sound on approach due to the design of the wing. Roughly 35 percent of the aircraft arriving and departing SFO need the retrofit.

The FAA is not addressing several recommendations that would measure the impacts of any of the changes it makes and lists those as "Recommendations which were not the FAA's action." It did not address ways to ensure compliance, monitor noise before and after the new procedures are implemented or add regional noise-monitoring stations.

The Select Committee has recommended noise-measurement modifications to more accurately consider the noise experienced by people on the ground. Noise levels are currently taken cumulatively within a 24-hour period and don't accurately measure the true impact experienced by residents. The U.S. Congress would require the FAA to adopt the new measurements under the committee's recommendation. The FAA should also monitor and document noise exposure of any proposed solutions before and after they are put in place so there is a measurement of how well they are working.

The committee recommended establishing an ongoing, permanent entity to address regional aircraft noise and to evaluate how changes to NextGen are functioning. U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo, Jimmy Panetta and Ro Khanna are pushing ahead with establishing a committee in Santa Clara County that would be similar to the SFO Roundtable. The representatives asked Joanne Benjamin, interim executive director of the Cities Association of Santa Clara County, for assistance in forming the long-term forum, according to a June 28 letter. The Cities Association represents 15 cities in the county.

The letter proposes creating a permanent aircraft-noise mitigation committee to include representatives of cities in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, San Jose International Airport and SFO. The letter recommends that the FAA agree to provide technical assistance as needed, and that the San Jose airport host and staff the meetings. The South Bay Airport Roundtable would also have a subcommittee to work together with the SFO Roundtable on regional and overlapping-noise issues.

Among the Select Committee recommendations the FAA addressed:

Change restricted airspace around SFO

The FAA found it feasible to change the shape of the restricted airspace around SFO, known as Class B airspace, which is designed to ensure a higher level of safety for arriving aircraft. The agency proposed altering the size or shape of the airspace so that pilots wouldn't need to use altitude and speed adjustments to stay in the prescribed zone. Timeline: 3 years, not including developing a staff study.

Develop new rules for overnight flights

The FAA has been working on this issue through a variety of means, including discussions with SFO to update its Fly Quiet program. The FAA has also worked with the airport to keep nighttime flights on a designated nighttime route as much as possible to reduce vectoring, a kind of "holding pattern" that puts planes off their direct descent route when approaches are backed up. Flights would be directed down San Francisco Bay rather than over land as the preferred procedure during Noise Abatement Procedure hours through 6 a.m. Timeline: Less than two years.

Modify where aircraft can vector

The FAA is working with the San Francisco Roundtable to identify locations for vectoring with the least impact over land. New vector locations could be over the Pacific Ocean or San Francisco Bay.

Vectoring is common over Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Mountain View from the east (Oceanic), north (Bodega) and south-arriving flights. Roughly 50 percent of the arrivals from the south are currently vectored so they will be sequenced and spaced properly for arrival. The FAA is also evaluating raising vectoring altitudes over the Midpeninsula. Timeline: Less than two years.

Shift northern arrivals to the Bodega "East" leg

Planes arriving from the north currently use the Bodega path, in which planes reach a point roughly over Daly City and continue south flying past SFO, using either the Peninsula (the so-called West leg) or San Francisco Bay (the East leg), to make a U-turn for landing on two runways. The Bodega East leg shares the final approach path into SFO with aircraft arriving from the east.

Planes using the East leg create dramatically less noise versus aircraft using the West leg, which flies over the highly populated Midpeninsula, and particularly Palo Alto. Air traffic was almost evenly split between the two legs, but in May 2016 roughly 70 percent of the arriving aircraft began flying over the Midpeninsula.

The Committee recommended greater use of the Bodega East leg for planes. From 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., when air traffic is lighter, virtually all such aircraft should come in using the San Francisco Bay approach. The FAA is evaluating feasibility. Timeline: More than two years.

Changes at MENLO waypoint

The designated point over which all of the planes from the south must pass, the MENLO waypoint, is located several city blocks south of the intersection of Willow Road and U.S. Highway 101. Planes currently cross at 4,000 feet, although by an agreement arranged more than a decade ago through Eshoo and then-Palo Alto Mayor Gary Fazzino, planes were supposed to fly no lower than 5,000 feet.

The Committee had a number of recommendations: raising the altitude over the waypoint, vectoring air traffic at a higher altitude and moving the waypoint to another location, among others. The FAA is currently evaluating raising the altitude of vectoring aircraft over MENLO above 5,000 feet. It is also evaluating establishing different points of entry over land at high altitudes to the final approach on the SERFR arrival or its replacement, such as a different waypoint east or north of MENLO. Timeline: More than two years.

The FAA rejected as not feasible raising altitudes above 5,000 feet over MENLO for all aircraft.

Increase altitudes and how planes descend into SFO

The Select Committee recommended that planes come in at a slightly steeper approach to allow them to begin their descent at a higher altitude, which would reduce noise. The committee recommended that while still ensuring the safety of the aircraft, the altitude should be increased for all flight paths in and out of SFO. The FAA is currently evaluating the recommendation. Timeline: More than two years.

Noise measurements

The FAA is evaluating if additional metrics could be adopted for measuring aircraft noise. Timeline: More than two years.

Modify arrival procedure into Mineta San Jose International Airport

The northern arrival path into San Jose International Airport, called BRIXX, runs down the Peninsula, roughly over La Honda and Boulder Creek before turning and flying south and then east and north for a final approach. The path intersects with the southern-arrival path (SERFR) going to SFO.

Under NextGen, the arrival path became more concentrated; with vectoring moving southward. About 76 percent of the BRIXX flights are vectored or taken off the flight path prior to the point where the two flight paths intersect. These changes resulted in complaints from residents in affected areas.

The FAA is awaiting the new Big Sur route overlay before evaluating higher altitudes where the two flight paths intersect. Timeline: More than two years.

Enforce 8,000 foot minimum over Woodside navigational beacon

In July 1998, the FAA instituted a procedure requiring flights over the Woodside navigational beacon to be no lower than 8,000 feet above sea level, “traffic permitting.” Numerous reports from the community claim the planes are currently not honoring the 1998 agreement. The planes are flying at much lower altitudes including at night when residents are particularly sensitive to noise. Some flights are allowed to come in at 6,000 feet over this point, including overnight. An estimated 36 percent of Oceanic flights arriving at SFO between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. fly over the Woodside point.

The FAA has addressed this concern "to the extent feasible." The agency is currently evaluating altitude restrictions below 8,000 feet to all vectored flights in the Woodside beacon area and prohibiting any overnight crossings at Woodside below 8,000 feet. Timeline: More than two years.

All of the reports to date, including past FAA and Select Committee documents can be viewed here.

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Comments

29 people like this
Posted by from Flight Path Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2017 at 10:16 am

Flight Path Facts

Web Link

"One positive is that the FAA recognizes that the communities under SERFR and BSR are NOT in agreement regarding any flight path shift, a criteria that they consider important. FAA plans are at this point "notional" and pre-design, so we have time and an opportunity to work with our congressional representatives and FAA administration to stop the new path.

Important to share with our neighbors - this is not a return to a quieter path. It is a brand new NextGen flight path with the concentration and noise that prompted Happy Valley and Los Gatos residents to protest in the first place.

Additionally, the report notes the 8-4 Select Committee vote. Not a consensus. In Santa Cruz County that vote was a 2-2 split vote, not a majority. The Select Committee voted 8-4 based on assurances from Supervisor John Leopold that unachievable mitigations would accompany any new path. Those mitigations have not appeared.

For our neighbors in the mid-peninsula - this flight path shift does nothing to resolve their jet noise issues, it simply shifts the path to the west with the same altitude, noise, concentration, and emissions issues that have plagued their communities. "


38 people like this
Posted by Tired of Noise
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2017 at 6:49 pm

The solutions to aircraft noise are quite simple: set real noise limits that protect the health of communities and the environment, based on per instance maximums, not averages. Set a curfew between 11pm and 7am. Establish minimum approach and departure angles; approach needs to be at least 5 degrees, departures need to be steeper.

Aviation is the most polluting form of transportation. It is hypocritical to claim we care about the environment while expanding aviation. Policies need to be put in place to reduce air traffic, such as: a high tax on all types of aviation fuels, a ban on frequent-flyer programs, fees that increase based on how often a passenger has flown during a year, restoration of airports to local control, etc.


5 people like this
Posted by Charlie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2017 at 6:05 am

Idle-power descents.

Two points in the FAA report addressing noise concerns make me optimistic that final implementation steps years from now will be an improvement:

1. A new arrival route over the Big Sur ground track. The recommendation is to develop a new route as an Optimized Profile Descent (OPD), which would enable aircraft to descend safely using higher altitudes in a quieter, idle-power setting

2. A proposed modification of Class B airspace, if approved, should allow more SERFR arrivals to fly quieter idle-power descents

Idle-power descents using higher altitudes will reduce noise considerably for virtually all of us.


11 people like this
Posted by from flight path facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2017 at 8:52 am

Charlie,

The Big Sur ground track would not fix noise because it would end in congested airspace.

You can Google Optimized Profile Descents and congested airspace.

The promise and reality of Optimized Profile Descents
Web Link

"Why OPDs Don’t Work in Crowded Airspace
For OPDs to work, aircraft must be sequenced prior to entering TRACON terminal airspace (an area about 60 miles from the arrival airport) using long-range sequencing tools such as Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM). Unfortunately, as detailed by the Department Of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (report number AV-2015-081), as late as August 20, 2015, the FAA has not yet successfully deployed TBFM. The Inspector General’s report specifically calls out Oakland Center’s inability to use TBFM, stating that “Oakland Center cannot rely on Los Angeles, Salt Lake City or Seattle to help manage arriving traffic”."


36 people like this
Posted by Justin Beck/5th Grade
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 30, 2017 at 9:18 am

When I get older, I'm going to design an all-electric passenger plane with back-up solar panels on the wings. In the early stages it may have to be a hybrid in order to generate adequate thrust.

The plane will be as quiet as a drone and might even be useful for stealth airborne military attacks.

After I get rich from the profits, I will devote my efforts towards transporter type methods of transportation. Like in Star Trek. The key is to be able to convert matter to energy and back again. This will be very challenging and some passengers might get lost or sent to the wrong places in its early stages of development.

With these designs, runway personnel won't have to wear ear protection anymore and fly-overs will be noise free.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 30, 2017 at 2:10 pm

More power to you, Justin. It's been 50 years since I was in 5th grade here, when Star Trek was brand new. Mixed results on most things I planned to do. Mixed results on most things our Nation planned to do. When 2067 gets here, you can go back through your notes and wonder where all the time went. I suspect very little change compared to what people are predicting. I still shop at the same Safeway as in 1967.

Flight time to New York hasn't changed in the past 50 years.


6 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm

The planned return to the Big Sur flight path is a good thing. There are areas
where the elevation below is lower and the population density is lower under Big Sur, so fewer people will hear any noise. The air space is congested, but we have two paths into SFO because planes land simultaneously on both runways. About half the traffic never
goes over the peninsula land but comes in over the Bay clear from Milpitas.
One of the recommendations included favoring the over the Bay approach any time both aren't being used. Some people in Palo Alto had the idea that the over the bay approach was not being used but it has been constantly in use. The only alternative to returning to Big Sur is to stay where the planes have been flying, over areas that are more vulnerable to noise than the path used for a few decades before the abrupt change. That's clearly not good. Go back to what worked, even if traffic is growing and planes are louder.

One thing that should really be done is to require all these Airbus 320's to be retrofitted for the noise reduction. They are 5 times as annoying as other planes, for no reason.


11 people like this
Posted by flight path facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Realist in Los Altos,

Big Sur route only worked when altitudes were at 5000 feet and above, and when it did not carry concentrated traffic.

The breach of the Fazzino/Eshoo agreement makes Big Sur no longer what it was.

If what you mean by less people will be affected with Big Sur, because there are fewer people in Los Altos Hills than Los Altos, that doesn't mean noise will be reduced. Los Altos is close enough to the Menlo waypoint though that any path ending below 5000 is a problem because Nextgen routes have a greater reach than the path itself.


23 people like this
Posted by Tired of Cronyism
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2017 at 4:59 pm

If you want to know what a healthy night of sleep is again, if you want peaceful enjoyment of your home (inside and outside), and peace in the outdoors then you'll need to hit this industry in the only place it cares about: it's profits. When a ticket carrying passenger was dragged off a United flight, bleeding and unconscious, United said too bad that's our policy. Then the video led to a PR nightmare and the value of its stocks began to plummet. Instant policy change; we won't do that anymore. And our brave Congress, after the fact, has added a "protection" to this summer's FAA reauthorization bill to ensure it doesn't happen again; way to show your courage Congress, go in the direction the industry you serve is already going.

TOO LOUD, TOO LOUD, TOO MANY 24/7 nationwide would change over night if the profits of the airlines plummeted because people chose to make a temporary sacrifice for a long-term gain. Don't fly or ship by air unless absolutely necessary.


3 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 30, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Altitude might be higher than "at 4000": at MENLO in the future. The altitude for instrument flight was "at 4000" at MENLO with BIGSUR also but visual approaches were allowed that were reached at 5000. One waypoint, EDDYY near the Lehigh Quarry just south of Los Altos Hills is at "above 6000" even for SERFR. SWELS was set at "above 4700". Many planes are much higher even with SERFR. Others do fly flat at 4000 starting soon after SWELS, but this is not the intent of the STAR. It has to do with the Class C airspace stair stepping. There's no reason for an immediate descent to 4000 after SWELS. In fact it's the opposite of OPD.

Inexplicably, vectoring increased on SERFR compared to BIGSUR. This is the opposite of a concentration going on. The new procedure would work to make OPD and less vectoring, as well as higher altitudes. The best ground track is the one used for BIGSUR, compared to any other possibility. There's every reason to think that other factors will also revert to what they were in BIGSUR.


10 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2017 at 9:10 pm

"would change over night if the profits of the airlines plummeted because people chose to make a temporary sacrifice for a long-term gain"

That's about as likely as people cutting back driving in order to reduce traffic...


6 people like this
Posted by flight path facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2017 at 9:20 pm

Los Altos Realist,

There is probably a really good explanation for why vectoring has increased with Nextgen routes. One reason may be many more planes, crowded airspace, planes are directed to leave the route, probably to maintain a safe enough distance.

The opposite of vectoring means planes staying on the narrower concentrated paths. That would mean even more noise for the population below! if that matters to you.


7 people like this
Posted by Hum
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 30, 2017 at 10:42 pm

Why do we believe the plans would reduce noise in PA?


47 people like this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2017 at 12:02 am

"Why do we believe the plans would reduce noise in PA?" Indeed, Why do we believe the plans would reduce noise at all?

The FAA is engaged in a very long drawn out process of rearranging the chairs on the Titanic and hoping low-information ground-lings will think it is progress instead of passive-aggressive obstructionism.

There is only one clear win-win solution... all aircraft must maintain a minimum of 7,500 feet AGL over all residential areas while proceeding to the southern most tip of the Bay to begin final descent into SFO entirely Over the Bay.


22 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2017 at 4:52 am

Keep complaining Web Link and is convenient to use
Gives full reports identifies the airliners speed path distance
There will be no change unless more people speak up
The arrogance of the industry is on display
Airlines using a densely populated area as their personal landing area to increase profit


5 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2017 at 12:00 pm

@Justin Beck, why wait until you get older? Start right now, working with models. You can get a head start learning about what works and what doesn't, and about how to finance projects. It's true what @musical says about things not always turning out as we plan, but addressing contingencies is all part of the process.


14 people like this
Posted by Tired of Cronyism
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Todd: "That's about as likely as people cutting back driving in order to reduce traffic..."

That's what the aviation industry is banking on - people valuing air travel and shipments on demand over human health and the environment. So far, the industry has banked right. Congress mandates the TOO LOW, TOO LOUD, TOO MANY procedures nationwide phenomenon and the agency it funds and oversees, the FAA, runs interference and is duly commended for making appearances at meetings, committees, etc. and collaborating on studies all after the fact of implementation and with its heels dug firmly into the ground on its fundamental position of no significant impact on the human environment. Patently false, but this finding is where all challenges to this industry's take of the skies leads.

Road traffic congestion is an issue, but two things should be kept in mind when people divert to this issue. One, air travel is the most polluting and inefficient mode of transportation. Two, roads are static. The noise and pollution of a static road or freeway can be physically avoided. You can't escape the skies. Since the launch of the NextGen program with its environmental whitewash song about safety and efficiency (the Congress, FAA, and industry mantra) and fuel savings, nationwide the skies are blanketed with low-altitude flight paths and here's why:

Key to FAA NextGen torture is “Wake RECAT” (Wake Turbulence Recategorization). Aircraft create a turbulence wake, but flying aircraft close together increases capacity (more aircraft in the sky year on year) and efficiency (quicker landings/takeoffs), so altitude is lowered to take advantage of denser air that allows aircraft to fly slower and closer together when lining up on arrival/departure paths. Our skies have been taken over as tarmac for these slow, close together lineups of aircraft.

It’s all about increasing capacity to increase aviation profits. Safety, efficiency, and fuel savings? What a joke. Miles and miles away from airports, arriving aircraft take low, looping routes with landing gear down which in addition to the denser air gives more drag (more fuel burn) which aids slowing down and lining up.

So, whenever enough people get fed up with losing sleep, the peace in and around their home, and the degradation of the outdoors by this constant barrage, then they'll talk with their money since Congress and the FAA are ultimately captured and so far the strategy is the theater of endless meetings, committees, studies but fundamentally nothing is changes because the industry's profits are going up year after year.


16 people like this
Posted by Tired of Cronyism
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2017 at 1:48 pm

The only state in the U.S. I've found where people refuse to go down the rabbit hole of shift the burden to citizens to come up with solutions (to wear them down and divide and conquer while buying time to continue with the NextGen program's full implementation agenda) is Maryland.

Credit has to be given to elected officials in that state who have shown the basic human decency of calling the NextGen program's impact exactly what it is "completely unacceptable," a program that makes citizens "pay a human cost with their health and emotional well-being" for the financial benefit of the airline industry.


Link to Maryland Governor Hogan's letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta:
Web Link

Not surprisingly, the lie of no significant impact remains the FAA's position and by extension Congress since it directs and controls it. "FAA Says Study Found No Significant Noise Impacts..." article link:

Web Link

Also, anyone see the SFGate 7/30/17 article with the misleading title "Change coming for neighborhoods plagued by noisy SFO flight paths"? Link: Web Link

Notice the FAA's it could take 18 to 24 months to implement any changes. Conditional language AND up to 2 years away. Wow. It must be nice to get paid to go to all these meetings, sit on committees, etc. just to string people along. Not so nice for citizens doing this pro bono. War of attrition. This program's official implementation timeline is 2012 to 2025. They're almost there.


14 people like this
Posted by Tear down this wall!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2017 at 1:56 pm

What's with the paywall on Palo Alto Online? This is a country with free speech, I should be able to speak freely!!!


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 31, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Each week SFO serves over a million passengers.


8 people like this
Posted by Mr Gorbachev - - -
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Censorship is not the answer! Well, I suppose my views shall go- I N C O G N I T O ...


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2017 at 4:29 pm

"When I get older, I'm going to design an all-electric passenger plane..."

Good for you, Justin. I had great ideas like yours when I was your age, and I actually achieved some of them, plus others I hadn't thought of then.

So you go for it, and don't listen to anybody who says you can't do it. You will do it if you really want to.


3 people like this
Posted by SFO winning
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2017 at 12:29 am

Justin Beck/5th Grade,

"This will be very challenging and some passengers might get lost or sent to the wrong places in its early stages of development."

compared to the millions of passengers that your transporter will serve, that should be no significant impact



12 people like this
Posted by Tiffany
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 1, 2017 at 6:02 am

I am conflicted. I support these new routes so that our city is bit quieter, but I know that the new traffic will all end up over poorer areas. Does anyone else feel just a little bit guilty? Would this even be considered if we weren't so wealthy??


23 people like this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2017 at 10:00 am

@Tiffany,

East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park are already the two areas hardest hit by arrival traffic. Half of all traffic or over 300 flights a day converge on the Menlo waypoint (or there about) and then continue to descend in a northeasterly direction over East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park.

The citizen's group Sky Posse has been working with activists in East Palo Alto since its inception and the city of Palo Alto and the city of East Palo Alto (staff and elected officials) are cooperating to find a solution to the "nextgen" noise problem. In the recent Select Committee hearings Palo Alto, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Atherton were represented by East Palo Alto vice mayor Larry Moody.

Your world view that everything can be explained by discrimination doesn't apply to the effort to find a solution to the "nextgen" aircraft noise problem.


12 people like this
Posted by Kung PAO
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 1, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Personally for many of us near Embarcadero and 101, the private planes from Palo Alto Airport (PAO) are more annoying than the big planes going to SFO. Airports like SFO and SJC are critical for our local economy and the planes have to go over someones heads if not ours. Meanwhile we have mostly recreational flights at PAO which add no value to our local economy and if fact degrade quality of life with more noise pollution (not to mention leaded fuel used in these planes).

Compounding that are helicopters doing lessons circling PAO!! ugh!!


5 people like this
Posted by Tony Verreos Brisbane CA
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Real Issues: Noise ruining quality of life & sleep deprivation, Chemical pollution not being tested and reported, in some cased homes vibrating or shaking, real safety abuses increasing crash risks. FAA is in charge. Failed or Fraud Aviation Accessories. Rather than regulating all aspects of aircraft use, they seem to treat the airlines as their customers. We the people are the FAA's customers and their bosses, but they are not listening to us. After spending $30B and taking 10-20 years, they should have had all of these issues figured out. Instead politics dominates ever aspect. Mr. Kung Pao I find low flying noise objectionable too, but to say that there is no value to our community from civil aviation suggests you don't understand it. Too bad the area with the largest number of volunteers and complainers is not on board with the concept of improving life for everyone, and the idea of First Do No Harm. The FAA won when it split your community. At least in the North Peninsula we are hanging together.


Like this comment
Posted by Shari
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2017 at 4:14 pm

@Justin Beck - These are wonderful ideas and I wish you much success in your endeavors.

Instead of people getting lost or winding up in the wrong place during the alpha-test phase of your transporter, you could use animals. You could put collars on the animals with transponders so that they can be located after they've arrived. This way, you will know if the animals are at the place you wanted them to be. If not, you can adjust the transporter accordingly.

Please keep working hard on both your ideas and any other ideas you might also have.

Good luck!


12 people like this
Posted by SFO winning
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Tony Verreos @ Brisbane,

"At least in the North Peninsula we are hanging together."

North Peninsula has hanging together in the exclusive San Francisco Roundtable.

How long have you guys been doing this, 20-30 years? Same metric, same standards, and now folks South of the San Mateo County are supposed to spring into compliance to do no harm?



10 people like this
Posted by ricardo
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 2, 2017 at 9:25 am

Within a 25 mile radius of downtown Palo Alto we have:

1) Three major international airports
2) Five regional airports
3) A federal airbase that doubles as Google's private airport

How spoiled do we have to be to think that we should live so close to so much yet not have to hear an occasional airplane? BY FAR, the worst areas for airplane noise over residential areas are south-central San Jose and East Palo Alto. Our neighbors seems to handle it ok. Raising these issues makes us seems petty.

Thank you.


23 people like this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2017 at 10:35 am

@Ricardo,

You know who is really spoiled? The City of San Francisco.

The City and County of San Francisco owns and operates SFO in San Mateo County and plagues San Mateo county and Santa Clara County with relentless aircraft noise all while making $40 million a year from SFO and scrupulously avoiding air traffic over the City of San Francisco.

In the map of departure tracks below note how few the departure tracks are over San Francisco. Even the flights leaving runway 28 heading east fly all the way up to the golden gate or even Marin County before turning east to avoid flying over San Francisco.

SFO Departure tracks: Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Not a problem for me
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2017 at 11:02 am

Jetman-- and what is your point? That is the way the airport is configured and obviously the airport cannot be in SF. Your solutions is to either close SFO or divert traffic to another city besides palo alto. Very self serving


7 people like this
Posted by Tired of Cronyism
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Ricardo: Pre-NextGen program, which officially kicked off in 2012 (not so long ago), Americans nationwide still lived "so close to so much" and not only did they not have to hear "an occasional plane" but they didn't hear what we have now: a 24/7 barrage of low-flying aircraft (commercial, cargo, GA) everywhere (urban, suburban, rural areas). People living in poor, disadvantaged communities historically took the brunt of deadly greed's byproducts. Increasingly, the NextGen program being a prime example, the 1% are treating the 99% with the attitudes generally reserved for disadvantaged segments of the population.

Understanding what the aviation industry is doing not only nationwide but globally, as it is a powerful, global industry, is only an online search away. This has been going on long enough for people to get their heads around the fact that there are no special cases with this issue. It's a blanket screw of human health and the environment. It requires federal action. Congress has to right the wrong it started and quit hiding behind the FAA while feverishly doing this industry's bidding with token PR stunts to keep citizens running in circles instead of focusing on where the buck stops.

In the meantime. Everyone sick of this take of the skies by the industry should think twice about inessential air travel and shipments. Talk with your money. Losing money will do more than a thousand committees, roundtables, studies, etc.


11 people like this
Posted by Tired of Noise
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2017 at 12:37 pm

The argument that aircraft noise should be shared more equitably is ridiculous, and belies the claims that noise from aircraft does no harm. If aircraft noise causes no harm, then having them concentrated would be perfectly acceptable.

The solution is not to spread the noise. No one argues that, because some communities have higher levels of lead in their water, we should make sure that everyone has the same levels of lead.

Studies have shown that aircraft noise damages health regardless of whether the recipient is bothered by the noise. The only solution that makes sense for the health of both communities and the environment is to reduce aviation and ensure that those on the ground are subjected to the least amount of noise and air pollution from aviation as possible.

And if you hope simply for a reduction in noise in communities by spreading the flight paths, you need to pay attention to the plans for growth. If the aviation industry gets its way, everyone will be subjected to endless flights, day and night, all for the profit of a minority and with total disregard for the damage done to the environment.


27 people like this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2017 at 12:56 pm

@Napfm,

My solution is all aircraft on approach to SFO maintain a minimum altitude of 7,500 feet AGL over all residential areas while proceeding to the southern most tip of the Bay to begin final descent into SFO entirely Over the Bay.

My solution employs the same techniques San Francisco has successfully used to avoid having aircraft noise in San Francisco and applies those techniques to the Peninsula problem. Aircraft approaching SFO from the north fly over San Francisco at 10,000+ feet and aircraft departing SFO for the east fly north over the Pacific all the way up to the Golden Gate before turning and flying east over San Francisco Bay.

Over the Bay is a big win.


SFO departure tracks: Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Mrs. Tilley/92
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Couldn't the manufacturers of the airplanes simply design a muffler for the engines? They have them on cars and leaf blowers.

When I first started flying on airplanes, they had propellers and were not as noisy as these modern planes.

The only time it got loud was when the Navy was flying jets out of Moffett Field. The blimps were very quiet.


6 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2017 at 7:09 am

Planes should use a sharper descent and take off. This is not only easier on the ears of those who live in the southern end of Palo Alto, but on those who suffer when their ears don't clear easily from the altitude changes. Also, take off and landing should be over the Bay, not over homes.


11 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2017 at 10:34 am

Real Noise Regulation cannot happen soon enough. But it seems like what passes for regulation often turns out to be long time-wasting dodges to run out the clock and do nothing while pretending to look concerned and generate astro-turf groups funded by industry to tell us that we all really and truly like noise I am sick of it, and I know this never used to happen before so we can go back to whatever we used to do keep noise levels down.


3 people like this
Posted by Tired of Cronyism
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Maryland Governor Hogan 8/1/17 letter to US Dept. of Transportation Secretary Chao about NextGen program aircraft noise blight:

Web Link

"chronic aircraft noise exposes otherwise healthy people to stress and potential medical conditions"

Hogan wants a meaningful response this month...


6 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Keep all flights higher over residential areas. Only allow flights at a lower level when they are on a direct descent into the airport landing. Any flights that cannot stay higher should not be allowed over residential areas. This applies to both large commercial flights into SFO and smaller private and commercial flights into the small airports.


10 people like this
Posted by Tired of Cronyism
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Ruling overturns FAA rerouting of Phoenix departure paths

August 29, 2017 2:36 PM

PHOENIX

A court ruling overturns the Federal Aviation Administration's 2014 order that set new flight paths and procedures for aircraft departing Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.

The 2-1 ruling Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agrees with claims by Phoenix and a historic neighborhood association that the FAA's action was "arbitrary and capricious."

Many residents complained about increased aircraft noise after the FAA implemented the new flight paths as part of an effort to streamline aircraft routing for safety and fuel efficiency.

(Link to above article copied in full from Miami Herald: Web Link)


12 people like this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2017 at 11:19 pm

Aviation Impact Reform has an article on the Phoenix v. FAA case which includes scroll-able and downloadable PDF versions of the judgement.

"FAA Ordered to Vacate Their 2014 NextGen Routes in Phoenix"
AIReform ~ August 29, 2017 Web Link


13 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2017 at 4:19 pm

So when do we go to court? I'm fed up with the noise every evening and morning!


11 people like this
Posted by Going to court
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 12, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Going to court is a registered user.

Apparently Maryland's governor just directed the attorney general to sue the FAA over airplane noise. Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Resident1
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 12, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Resident1 is a registered user.

Apparently Maryland's governor just directed the attorney general to sue the FAA over airplane noise. Web Link

It would be great if we could be more aggressive about this. It's non-stop noise and pollution over our heads.


14 people like this
Posted by EvieP
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 12, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Thanx John and Jetman...I've been hammering our Congressional and local Reps. Planes 24/7--too low, too loud, too many...commercial and commuter companies making a huge profit by hammering residents who pay with total loss of quality of life yet have no recourse or say to any of these changes. Of course the FAA plans to wait out citizens with their insane 18 mos.-2 yr wait to implement "change." Citizens need to take back their communities. This is a clear case of environmental over-reach and Govt. no-can-reach.Call SFO and SJC daily to register your complaints...400K calls since '16 from SJ, 300K% increase in complaints to SFO. This purely a profit grab from commecial interests at the expense of peninsula residents. Easily mitigated. Take back our communities!


Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm

@Mrs. Tilley/92

"Couldn't the manufacturers of the airplanes simply design a muffler for the engines? They have them on cars and leaf blowers."

They do. They are called "hush kits" and are used to quiet older low bypass turbofan engines. Newer aircraft have high bypass engines and are probably as quiet as they know how to make them right out of the box.

Would love to see blimps return as an air travel option. :)


3 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 13, 2017 at 6:37 pm

No one here is going to get aggressive on this, just the usual waste of time meetings among our "leaders" and hand wringing for ever after.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 13, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Vortex generators can reduce the "whine" on Airbus A320 jet aircraft.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by What's New?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 22, 2017 at 9:15 am

The air traffic noise seems to have shifted in the last month or so to directly over my condo to the point of making it almost uninhabitable. This leaves me wondering if some further change to the flight patterns has occurred in the past several weeks.

I plan to become more involved with local and state government to voice my concerns, but if anyone has any insights on why the problem has increased, I would appreciate your insights.

If anyone out there is currently working on this problem, I would eagerly join your efforts.


6 people like this
Posted by E. Preston
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Oct 22, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Eshoo's responses are a joke re meetings, committees, etc. and pretending that she's going to bat for us. Commercial and commuter flights continue to profit at our expense while locally and nationally Reps.have abandoned their constituents via biz-as-usual. (Ariz. and Maryland the exceptions to date.)
Thanks to all the expert reasoning as explained via comments....boils down to--too many flights, too low, too loud, too often. In addition to lower corp. profits, fewer votes for incumbents will also spark attention.


1 person likes this
Posted by Flight Noise Orgs
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 22, 2017 at 9:27 pm

@What's New, for existing orgs, try Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by About time
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 22, 2017 at 10:37 pm

I'm thrilled to hear something is finally in the works.


3 people like this
Posted by Flight Noise Orgs
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 23, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Well, it's not clear what's in the works that will make a meaningful difference. They seem to be rejecting the best ideas we have. South Palo Alto gets a double whammy from SJC arrivals (2000 feet!!) on windy days, as well as the all-weather SFO arrivals. And some of the proposals push yet more traffic over us. Please keep reporting the low-flying planes (stop.jetnoise.net) and contacting Congresswoman Eshoo.


6 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 25, 2017 at 9:00 am

This is a shame. FAA NextGen has significantly reduced fuel use by airlines through automated routing that considers fuel consumption. Lots of math, science and simulations go into the routing decisions. The CO2 reduction alone is equivalent to several hundred thousand cars off the road each year. It is a great achievement.

But unfortunately it seems we only care about the environment until we're inconvenienced in some way. I wish we could be less self-centered about this.


5 people like this
Posted by flight path facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2017 at 9:52 am

Terry,

"Lots of math, science and simulations go into the routing decisions."

The math and automation are not working well yet. Not the last miles

You can't automate pilots 100%, at least not yet. So, in the last miles, to avert accidents, planes are vectored off the automated paths. Per the FAA's account, optimized profile descents were working 30% of the time.

More fuel is being burned a the lower altitudes, which is not just an "inconvenience."


See earlier post

The promise and reality of Optimized Profile Descents
Web Link

"Why OPDs Don’t Work in Crowded Airspace
For OPDs to work, aircraft must be sequenced prior to entering TRACON terminal airspace (an area about 60 miles from the arrival airport) using long-range sequencing tools such as Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM). Unfortunately, as detailed by the Department Of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (report number AV-2015-081), as late as August 20, 2015, the FAA has not yet successfully deployed TBFM. The Inspector General’s report specifically calls out Oakland Center’s inability to use TBFM, stating that “Oakland Center cannot rely on Los Angeles, Salt Lake City or Seattle to help manage arriving traffic”."


8 people like this
Posted by flight path facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2017 at 9:53 am

Terry,

"Lots of math, science and simulations go into the routing decisions."

The math and automation are not working well yet.

You can't automate pilots 100%, at least not yet. So, in the last miles, to avert accidents, planes are vectored off the automated paths. Per the FAA's account, optimized profile descents were working 30% of the time.

More fuel is being burned at the lower altitudes, which is not just an "inconvenience."


See earlier post

The promise and reality of Optimized Profile Descents
Web Link

"Why OPDs Don’t Work in Crowded Airspace
For OPDs to work, aircraft must be sequenced prior to entering TRACON terminal airspace (an area about 60 miles from the arrival airport) using long-range sequencing tools such as Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM). Unfortunately, as detailed by the Department Of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (report number AV-2015-081), as late as August 20, 2015, the FAA has not yet successfully deployed TBFM. The Inspector General’s report specifically calls out Oakland Center’s inability to use TBFM, stating that “Oakland Center cannot rely on Los Angeles, Salt Lake City or Seattle to help manage arriving traffic”."


6 people like this
Posted by flight path facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2017 at 10:03 am

Terry,

Also, what should be corrected for the last miles, at least in theory should not prevent jets doing efficient things above 10,000 feet, and for 99% of the flight route, taking shorter routes from NYC or other ways to reduce emissions.

The estimate in fuel savings for the entire Northern California are was $6 million. There has been no count yet of how much extra fuel was burned with the system not working adequately.


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

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