Town Square

REDUCE Aircraft Noise - Meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) - Thursday Sept 29, 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Original post made by Sky Posse Palo Alto, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2016

Palo Alto and Neighboring Communities,

If you are concerned with the alarming increase in aircraft noise over our communities, plan to attend the Select Committee Meeting this Thursday. See Calendar event at Web Link

Thursday, Palo Alto City Hall 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm (drop by for as much as you can)

Come show support for the HIGHER altitude solutions recommended by advocacy groups from the Mid-Peninsula, putting planes HIGH over the WATER, not low over people!

Web Link

The Committee was formed by Congressmembers Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Sam Farr (CA-20) and Jackie Speier (CA-14) to develop regional solutions to address aircraft noise. Web Link


Web Link

Petition update
Noise measurements / Proposed solutions
Sky Posse Palo Alto

Sep 24, 2016 — Dear friends,

Thank you for signing our Petition to reduce aircraft noise over Palo Alto and neighboring communities, adding testimony to the alarming increase in aircraft noise. Over 750 people attended the Santa Clara Hearings with compelling accounts of the impacts that airplane noise is having on the health and welfare of citizens.

The Select Committee on South Bay Arrivals is now evaluating noise reports provided by the FAA to assess impacts from proposed changes. The FAA uses a simulation tool ("AEDT2b" or the earlier model "NIRS") to analyze the trade-offs between noise, fuel burn, and emissions, and to quantify the environmental impact of changes of planes flying around. The challenge is that the FAA's noise annoyance metric employed in these assessments (DNL) does not fully reflect the serious noise problems we are experiencing from Nextgen procedures.

In the accompanying Summary, Web Link Palo Alto resident Tom Rindfleisch introduces key considerations about the FAA metric and model, including suggestions for extended metrics to better capture aircraft noise impacts.

There is work ahead to require that the FAA adequately model the impacts of all proposed alternatives, and to assure that meaningful solutions are fairly considered to reduce noise, and to provide real relief. Please view the solutions which have been proposed by Mid-Peninsula Communities at

We will be following up shortly with a review of the recent deliberations by the Select Committee. The next Select Committee meeting is this Thursday September 29, 1:00pm - 4:00pm, Palo Alto City Hall, 300 Hamilton Avenue.

It is very important that residents attend the upcoming meetings.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Sky Posse has done wonderful work for all residents who are weary of airplane noise from SFO (and I'd guess that is half or more of all residents if you ask them.) Unfortunately, our politicians have failed us. Simitian and his ilk love to set up Select Committees and hold study sessions with bureaucrats so that they get their names in the paper. But nothing happens. When Eshoo got serious about San Mateo County's air noise problems, she got action from the FAA. (I wonder if the fact that Eshoo and lots of rich political contributors live in Atherton had anything to do with this?). What do we get? We get lots of meetings and lots of low flying jets ... and no change is in sight.

I love how Sky Posse organized from scratch, put together a truly impressive group of leaders, gathered and analyzed lots of information on the noise issue, and presented it cogently to residents and to politicians. It is a remarkable feat in my opinion. But what are the politicans doing for us? Nothing. Palo Alto doesn't even have representation in the group working on this: and we have by far the lion's share of overflights from SFO.

I want Sky Posse to succeed, but unless they figure out a way to get really tough - and not just plead to lip-service offering politicians, I don't see anything happening to improve things.

Can someone from Sky Posse tell me I'm wrong?

Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2016 at 7:39 pm

-- Put planes HIGH over the WATER, not low over people!

YES, awesome, thank you SkyPosse very much for working this issue so well !

Posted by What?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2017 at 5:53 pm

How come the airplanes seem to be flying LOWER this past week? I thought SkyPosse was making gains.

Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 30, 2017 at 6:50 pm

Virgin flight 755 an Airbus A320 was low and loud over Palo Alto this afternoon. 3775' over PA and 3500' over EPA at 6:46 pm on April 30, 2017.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 30, 2017 at 7:10 pm

There have been so many meetings on this subject. Can our experts please now define the limitations for altitude limitations on:
San Jose Fly overs:
SFO Original flyovers:
SFO Secondary flyovers - redirected flights due to lack of ports available:
Oakland flights going to west locations:
Pesky Surf:
Pesky PAO:
Thank you. My feeling is that airplanes are pushing their advantage now and as people spend more time outdoors this will be very aggravating. We all need to know what has been agreed upon so that we can complain with some confidence. I wanted to smack a Surf Air plane .

Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2017 at 10:23 pm

-- I wanted to smack a Surf Air plane .

Some of them were so low today you almost could have.

I reported 3 loud planes today, and there goes another one just now.
There really were countless planes overhead today, and most of them
loud. Louder also because since it was a hot day I had some windows

When is enough going to be enough?

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 30, 2017 at 11:12 pm

Nice little airshow and hot-rod gathering over at Half Moon Bay airport today ("Dream Machines"). Very noisy; some exhibiters were handing out earplugs. Interesting demographic, I'd say.

Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2017 at 11:25 pm

As I was writing that last post until now many more planes tonight overhead in Crescent Park.
And this is not all of them, just the ones that I seemed to notice that were loudest.

Apr 30, 23:20:31 AA6082 (LAX:SFO E75L 172k, 3852ft)
Apr 30, 23:09:04 DL1939 (SEA:SFO B738 251k, 3825ft)
Apr 30, 23:05:26 VX 969 (SAN:SFO A320 217k, 3866ft)
Apr 30, 22:59:19 AA2508 (MIA:SFO B738 250k, 3868ft)
Apr 30, 22:56:16 WN9015 (SNA:SFO B737 211k, 4001ft)
Apr 30, 22:37:32 DL2780 (LAX:SFO B712 248k, 5034ft)
Apr 30, 22:22:19 UA 538 (SNA:SFO A319 237k, 4643ft)

Now I can understand how there can be so many reports by single reporters.
Off in the distance as I type this I can hear other planes as well.
Too much noise, and here comes another one of the whiny ones.
It is rare anymore to hear just quiet, there is always airplane noise
at the periphery of Palo Alto now. And this can be heard over the
noise of my clothes washer.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 1, 2017 at 12:10 am

Outside at this hour I could distinctly hear the rumble of an EVA Air Cargo 747 that just passed overhead (11:55pm) at 30,000 feet enroute LAX Taipei.

Posted by SFO dumping ground
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2017 at 1:21 am


You complained about a rumble at 30,000 feet? That is sensitive ears. Does the app record altitudes that high?

How many decibels would you say a "rumble" is?

@1 AM UA5107 at 6000 feet sounded like 70 db

The two 747's I heard earlier (around midnight) were probably like 90 db

KE 213 at 4700 feet
UA 2580 at 4500 feet

When its quiet its probably like 40 db outside

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 1, 2017 at 7:44 am

I was at Serramonte Shopping Center in Daly City yesterday and a take-off plane went overhead. WOW - a plane taking off when you are on the high 280 side is very loud. Check out Dick's Sporting Goods - new - very elegant store. Behind Target. That is the most complete store I have ever seen and it is all beautifully displayed.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 1, 2017 at 9:48 am

@Plane Speaker, that list is horrifying.

And here is a weird one from last night, heading to Oakland, nice and low. At midnight.

May 1, 00:04:34 AS 840 (OGG:OAK B738 211k, 4409ft)

Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 1, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Here's 3 more:

SKW5765 - CRJ 702ER - 3,900' over PA - 2,900' over EPA - 12:50 - 12:51 AM on 5/1/2017

UAL1217 - A320-232 - 2,800' over PA - 12:52 AM on 5/1/2017

UAL2580 - 747-422 - 4,350' over PA - 3,575' over EPA - 12:56 AM on 5/1/2017

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 1, 2017 at 1:20 pm

I wasn't feeling well and so didn't sleep much last night. I heard two or three planes very loud and low during this time, but didn't have the energy to turn on the light, get up, and quickly figure out which planes these were overhead and perhaps report them. I guess SFO and various airlines that cut corners by coming in low, figure they are fast enough to get away with this bad behaviour of the past several years. A shame (for Palo Altan's sake); wish we had an effective advocate. Others have largely succeeded in moving sometimes very impactful noise and routes over Palo Alto, while they enjoy the now quiet environment of their communities. Mainly a lesson in government bureaucracy and manipulation by others; we are fully on the receiving end. Loud plane now: 1:18PM monday, wow.

Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2017 at 1:54 pm

resident said:

"Can our experts please now define the limitations for altitude limitations..."

It is complicated but there really are no hard and fast rules. Generally commercial flights bound for SFO,SJC,OAK are supposed to stay within class B airspace which is an inverted wedding cake shaped space over each airport and follow the new lower "nextgen" air-routes which were designed to just skirt the lower limits of class B airspace.

That being said, aircraft can go anywhere ATC tells or allows them to go. ATC very frequently "vectors" aircraft off their nominal "nextgen" flight-path to de-conflict traffic or to sequence their arrival at the airport.

Pilots can request routes from ATC suggested by their on-board navigation system and are rewarded by the airlines for saving fuel and on-time performance.

There is also something called a tailored-arrival which allows airlines to submit to the FAA for approval new nominal air-routes and descent profiles which they have designed to optimize their operations.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 1, 2017 at 2:07 pm

@Anonymous -- It's easy to report planes if you have a smart phone (or laptop) nearby. Just visit Once you've set it up, you just tap a button that says "REPORT IT" when you hear a really loud plane, and it figures everything else out.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 1, 2017 at 2:52 pm

@dumping ground, that was just a comment about audibility, not a complaint.

Normal hearing lower limit is zero to 20 decibels. Hearing-aid people say you have a hearing loss if you can't hear 20 dB across a full 250-8000 Hz frequency range. Night-time ambient around here is below the 32 dB bottom end of my sound meter, quiet but still a cacophony of audible noise sources, from crickets to distant freeway traffic. Nothing like the high desert on a calm night.

I've found that most of the loudest airliners overhead are measurable in the 45-65 dBA range for 30 to 45 seconds.

Posted by SFO dumping ground
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2017 at 3:33 pm


"Night-time ambient around here is below the 32 dB bottom"

32 dB is nice and quiet and refutes the claim that we have urban noise in Palo Alto, @ when it's quiet its quiet here.

If you look at the delta for your neighborhood from as low as 32 dB to 65 dB, and my estimate,, from 40 to 90, we could maybe say neighbors are getting disturbances of about 30-50 DB (additions to ambient noise).

While a jet at 30,000 can be "audible", how much do you estimate would be added to the 32 dB?

Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on May 1, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Has anyone looked into why the City / County of San Francisco is allowed to operate an airport in another county, in an area that is not adjacent (not even close) to their city / county? The City / County of San Francisco makes big bucks flying airplanes over our city and neighboring cities, is that right?!?

It may be time for legal action. It's completely reasonable to demand that SFO route all incoming and outgoing flights over the City / County of San Francisco, not over any other cities / counties. If they can't do this then SFO airport should be renamed to "Peninsula Airport" and all peninsula cities should get a seat on the board (and a share of the profits). The situation as it exists now is pure tyranny.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 1, 2017 at 4:39 pm

@dumping ground, that gets into spectral character, hence my description as a "rumble". Low frequencies are less damped with distance. Maybe a few dB were added in the 50-200 Hz band, but I doubt it would register at all on any meter that integrates across the full spectral range of hearing.

Probably subjective whether something needs to rise above ambient to be audible, like you can hear your name amid all the conversations in a crowded restaurant. And if someone finds barking dogs bothersome, they will be bothered by barking even if it's below the ambient noise level.

@Juan, everyone in the Bay Area profits from SFO. That's how our customers get here. It's not like SFO doesn't let Palo Altans use the airport.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 1, 2017 at 5:31 pm

I don't see how a 30,000 foot flight even remotely resembles a 3,000 foot flight. You guys are getting lost in the weeds, and it's not fair to the folks who are impacted by the low flights. The list someone posted above is pretty awful, and nothing like it happened here just a few years ago. This past week or two has been especially bad.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 1, 2017 at 6:18 pm

Actually a 30,000 ft flight is not much different than a 3,000 ft fllght that is one minute away from your location, coming and going. That's a 2-minute period where a low flight will get louder by some amount, and then quieter again. Inverse square law would suggest 20 dB (factor of 100). If a 3,000 ft flight bothers somebody for one minute, than a 15,000 ft flight would bother them at some point also.

And it's not just the noise, but the character of the noise. Quoting Plane Speaker, "here comes another one of the whiny ones".

Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 1, 2017 at 6:41 pm

I don't understand why you are trying to obfuscate the issue, and I find it annoying and unhelpful. A 30,000 ft flight overhead is nothing like a 3,000 ft flight overhead. Period. And that is what we are talking about here. Sorry if I've lost my patience, but it may be due to lack of sleep.

Posted by I got mine
a resident of Mountain View
on May 1, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Ever since I was a child in EPA, most of the takeoff noise was from PAO over the dike We lived near. ( I note with irony that the Tesla Engineer Aircraft Accident crashed into the house next door to our house )
Before all this clamor about jet noise, the " TCA Wedding Cake had much higher minimums that made local airports to operate. We have far too many local airports that don't even have an FBO in the complete Bay Area and South of the Bay Area.
This NextGen System tries to play " traffic cop " for ALL airports by using a computer model that keeps Big Jets from colliding with other aircraft. Like a compromise, someone ( or many in PA's Case ) gets the short end of the stick ( I could think of a stronger way but it would get deleted ).
That means what is done now: recording time and dateand if you are prepared, a sound level meter on the proper weighted scale. Then GENERATE TONS OF REPORTS OF NOISY AIRCRAFT!

Since I'm near Denver now, I only hear the " flight for Life " Helicopter because I am near the aircraft's highest flight level. The same for many fixed wing aircraft wanting to go West without using Oxygen. Once a plane with engine trouble landed on I-70 unharmed. Bad Av-gas. The CSP stopped traffic and he flew it out 2 days later. I get to see takeoff and landing lights when the right runways are used BUT NO NOISE. The only real noise comes from Fighter jets from several Military Bases;n The sound of freedom, much like the P-3s and airshows at Moffett Field which I went to. I've visited both the the ATCC in Oakland and Longmont, CO. Maybe the Oakland ATCC is where you need to send your complaints; they " own " much of the airspace that commercial airplanes use

Posted by SFO dumping ground
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2017 at 7:19 pm


"everyone in the Bay Area profits from SFO. That's how our customers get here. It's not like SFO doesn't let Palo Altans use the airport."

Yes but it is the *airport's* responsibility to address noise concerns, and community outreach.

SFO has the responsibility for their waste which (to humans) is largely noise and emissions

A jet at 3000, as far as air pollution is concerned, is worse than a jet at 30,000 - not a subjective issue.

As far as noise, airports are notorious for obfuscating.

Not to mention. it's with the airport's information that the FAA makes flight path decisions.

Posted by SFO dumping ground
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2017 at 7:31 pm

As far as noise information goes,

SFO's noise monitors end in Redwood City

and when Nextgen was rolled out, they told people in Palo Alto that "nothing has changed"

No surprise that the FAA declared a Finding of No Significant Impact.

Posted by I Got Mine
a resident of Mountain View
on May 1, 2017 at 7:58 pm

I suggest that you may be complaining to the wrong people. Start at the top:
If you know the owners of the planes; SEND THE NOISE COIMPLAINTS TO THE CEO OF THAT COMPANY, Especially to the CEOs of Delta and United right now! The timing is perfect!
2 the Noise Complaints can be sent to the head of the FAA. He has to keep his Political house in order. Since NextGen was implemented, he has to prove that it worked for EVERYONE. If he gets thousands of noise complaints, it proves the NextGen DOESN'T WORK!

Posted by SFO dumping ground
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 1, 2017 at 8:19 pm

I got..

"... Jets from colliding with other aircraft. Like a compromise, someone ( or many in PA's Case ) gets the short end of the stick ( I could think of a stronger way but it would get deleted"

For sure, like Dr Dao, jet noise sufferers get "the United treatment" every day and night.

This was no compromise, we were never even asked. SFO is the one who should be on the case, playing ping pong is their game though, they blame the FAA and United is SFO's prime customer.

United and SFO dumping ground

Posted by Linda
a resident of Los Altos
on May 2, 2017 at 11:17 pm

These airplanes fly nonstop literally right over my head. Every time I go to lay down, all I hear is a huge descent drop making a lot of noise and rumbling and irking my nerves nonstop. The worst part is I spoke to someone at SFO who just told me that flights have increased tremendously since 9/11 and that they have to deal with exponentially more planes coming into SFO. As if our only option is to just grin and bear it and that we should just put up with it was his basic attitude. Someone should just sue the airport or the FAA for pain and suffering that we're all receiving as a result of this increase without any of us being consulted or allowed to voice our dissent of these choices. Someone is making billions of dollars on these flights and it's very unfair that we are being made to suffer without any regard to our well-being or comfort. In fact, I think they just want to sweep the whole thing under the rug.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 3, 2017 at 7:41 am

EPA is looking at a number of new buildings which will be in excess of 4 stories - possibly up to twelve stories. It will be interesting to see if all of the new growth in EPA will change the altitude positions for the PAO and SFO planes.

Cities do have some muscle but have to be willing to exercise that muscle. The Santa Monica airport - a smaller airport but exclusive to moneyed private jets is being forced to close down in a gradual manner. First by shortening the runway to limit the type of jets then as leases run out closing it permanently - reverting it to parkland in the middle of an affluent SOCAL city. This must have taken a lot of muscle since those planes belong to the wealthy Beverly Hills / Bel Air people. But Santa Monica is also growing in the tech boom so unclear where that is all going. But it is clear that despite high tech and Hollywood money it can be done.
So where is our muscle? Palo Alto is outside the Congressional districts of the San Jose Airport and SFO so the very people that are trying to increase usage are not in our ballpark. We are in limbo as to political and financial clout.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 3, 2017 at 12:24 pm

@resident, none of those new buildings will be any taller than existing structures out there already. In fact the highest currently on the chart is 381 feet right in the middle of the bay where most flights go anyway.

That's negligible compared to the 4000-foot altitudes of the SFO airliners drawing complaints, or even the 2000-foot SJC reverse weather approaches.

Palo Alto is doing its share of increasing airliner usage, the same way we are increasing our local congestion. I see nothing in the Comprehensive Plan about downsizing.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 3, 2017 at 2:23 pm

@Resident -- while air traffic through SFO may have increased since 2011, that is largely not responsible for the great increase in noise that you are experiencing, which has largely been over the past two years. You may find it useful to read this FAQ prepared by Palo Alto's Sky Posse volunteers: Web Link

In particular, this paragraph is relevant, but there is lots more you will find helpful on that page, and on the site more generally.

Air traffic has indeed increased over the last ten years, but recent SFO arrival air traffic has not changed (per SFO data, the number of arrivals in 2013 and 2015 is about the same). One cannot blame the tremendous and recent aircraft noise increase over Palo Alto and nearby communities on more planes landing at SFO. On the other hand, arrival patterns have been changed. Planes are now flying at much lower altitudes and are concentrated over narrow corridors. In addition, arrival traffic has been moved over Palo Alto and nearby communities (for instance, the majority of traffic arriving from the North is now flying over the mid-peninsula; most of that traffic was previously flying over the Eastern part of the Bay).

Posted by Saturday Mornings
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2017 at 7:57 am

What causes the onslaught Saturday mornings from 7:00 - 8:00am?

Posted by SFO dumping gheound
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2017 at 8:51 am

Saturday mornings

So, Im not in Midtown, I'm in North PA, wonder if we are getting hammered by same ones.

A few things about Saturday. (Other than the jets) saturdays probably have quieter ambient noise levels than weekedays, so the jets are "insanely loud" in my book. Then, weekdays there's one jet after another but Saturdays at 7 am one would expect to have peace and quiet.... the combo is insane.

One after the other :((

May 6, 08:47:58 UA2 (SIN:SFO B789 191k, 5051ft)
Flight was LOUD
May 6, 08:33:18 Y4 910 (MEX:SFO A320 219k, 4258ft)
May 6, 08:29:55 (could not decide which flight)
May 6, 08:27:37 UA 862 (HKG:SFO B77W 231k, 6118ft)
May 6, 08:25:00 AS 222 (SEA:SFO B739 204k, 5677ft)
Flight was LOUD
May 6, 08:11:11 UA5339 (TUS:SFO E75L 213k, 4279ft)
May 6, 08:08:24 VX 352 (SAN:SFO A320 201k, 4337ft)
Flight was LOUD
May 6, 07:56:39 EY 183 (AUH:SFO B77L 210k, 5248ft)
May 6, 07:49:13 B61136 (LGB:SFO A320 228k, 3982ft)
May 6, 07:44:36 UA5982 (SBA:SFO E75L 209k, 4366ft)
May 6, 07:42:02 KZ 109 (LAX:SFO B748 233k, 4450ft)
May 6, 07:33:23 WN4271 (LAX:SFO B737 241k, 4665ft)
May 6, 07:28:22 UA 400 (SAN:SFO B738 226k, 4078ft)
May 05: 6 reports (6695 reports by 686 users)

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 6, 2017 at 9:12 am

Ms. Eshoo needs to step up to the plate and enlist help from Feinstein in re-organizing air routes. We know that Feinstein did that in SOCAL because they are more appreciative of her position. Maybe the SF progressives can get on board with some appreciation so that she is willing to help us. And how about Gov Moonbeam and Gavin Newsome. They seem to be focused on everything social - immigration - and need to address the other needs of the area / state. And some help would be appreciated from the City of San Jose who is also contributing to the problem by increasing flights at SJX which conflict with the SFO flights and then fly lower. So happy that they all think they are BLUE but all seem to be matching to narrowly regional issues. We have twenty shades of BLUE who spend their time complaining about RED tax returns - the results of which have nothing to do with our daily life.

Posted by SFO dumping ground
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2017 at 9:20 am

Ambient noise can apparently be as low as 32 db in PA and jets this morning sound way over 70, some probably 90 db.

This type noise is not like background noise one can adapt to, it's persistently jarring and way too loud.