The Federal Aviation Administration will hold a meeting this Wednesday night, Sept. 27, about an alternative air route that has allowed Surf Air's planes to avoid the Midpeninsula on their way to the San Carlos Airport. The meeting will be in San Jose.
The informational meeting, which will be from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Santa Clara County Government Center, Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium, will include presentations by the FAA, Encompass/Surf Air and the San Carlos Airport, plus a question-and-answer session.
The FAA allowed Surf Air to use what is called the Bayside Visual Approach, which takes planes over the Bay -- starting in Santa Clara County near Moffett Field -- as they descend toward the San Carlos Airport, for a six-month experimental period that ended in January.
The route was available only under visual flying conditions, when weather and air traffic allowed.
Although the test period has ended, Surf Air pilots have continued to use the route while the FAA studies the results under existing regulations that allow pilots to fly non-standard routes under visual flight conditions. When pilots use a non-standard route they, not air traffic controllers, are responsible for maintaining separation from other aircraft and obstacles, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the FAA and Surf Air have "determined the route is viable," but it would not be available in low-visibility conditions.
Gregor said the FAA is currently conducting an environmental review of the trial route, including a noise analysis, which will include a look at all comments received. Depending on the outcome of the environmental review, the route could be implemented in 2018, he said.
The route was developed by Surf Air in cooperation with the FAA after Midpeninsula residents complained about the noisy Pilatus PC-12 turboprop planes the commuter airline uses.
Surf Air started using the San Carlos Airport in June 2013, and by July of this year had 228 flights a week arriving at or departing from San Carlos. Its customers pay a monthly fee for unlimited flights.
The FAA says comments will be taken on the Bayside approach for 30 days after the meeting. Email to [email protected] or mail to Noise Concerns, AJV-W25, FAA, 1601 Lind Ave. SW, Renton, WA 98057.
FAA spokeswoman Lynn Lunsford said the meeting is being held in San Jose because the FAA "typically hold(s) hearings across large areas. Planes flying to and from an airport fly over many communities with often varying interests and concerns."