Filing claims Surf Air is using deception to avoid regulation.
Article written on July 17, 2017 and appeared in the Almanac.
Read the article >>
Filing claims Surf Air is using deception to avoid regulation.
Article written on July 17, 2017 and appeared in the Almanac.
Read the article >>
News coverage by San Jose Mercury News. Calm the Skies mounts protest against Surf Air at San Carlos Airport.
County board of supervisors expected to address noise issue sometime in July
Calm the Skies, a group formed of residents of Atherton, North Fair Oaks and other cities that are under the flight path of Surf Air Pilatus PC-12 turboprop airplanes, held a protest at San Carlos Airport on Sunday calling for Surf Air to leave the area.
Some 80 people, residents of cities as far away as Sunnyvale, showed up with signs and bullhorns to chant “Go away, Surf Air” and other slogans. They also chanted at some Surf Air passengers — on the other side of a fence from the tarmac — who reacted by making photos of the protesters, according to Jennifer Tasseff, who was there.
Sunnyvale residents have joined the protest because when the Surf Air airplanes are on one of two approaches to land at San Carlos Airport, they go over a portion of that city. It is indicative of the noise created by the turboprops that even at that higher altitude, they still significantly disrupt the quiet.
On the other approach, which passes right over Atherton’s Holbrook-Palmer Park, at a much lower altitude, the planes make so much noise that people standing next to each other can’t hear each other in conversation. Windows rattle, dishes fall, babies wake.
The airport has received many thousands of complaints about the noisy airplanes since Surf Air began operations there in 2013, and, as Atherton City Council member Elizabeth Lewis remarked on Wednesday, “It hasn’t gotten better, it’s gotten worse. I am very, very frustrated.”
Lewis has long been a part of a working group trying to find a solution to the noise created by the planes, and has attended countless meetings with Surf Air and airport authorities and San Mateo County officials, but said the airline has “continued to expand and disrupt the quiet.”
“My personal feeling is that the county supervisors should be doing a lot more than what they are doing,” said Lewis. “They have some legal standing to manage the airport for the community at large.”
A phone call to Supervisor Lee Horsley, who attended a meeting on the issue in the Pavilion Building at Atherton’s Holbrook-Palmer Park in August 2016, was not returned before deadline.
Adam Ullman of North Fair Oaks, who has long worked to combat the noise created by the Surf Air planes, also thinks the county should take action, and has his “fingers crossed that the county will put something forth.”
Ullman, who has filed suit against Surf Air in the past in Small Claims Court, in an action that lost on appeal because the judge thought it should go to Superior Court, said Ullman, appreciated the protest on Sunday.
“Absolutely. It’s a good new approach. …
“These planes are loud. This particular plane (the Pilatus PC-12) is louder than a 737 or a 757.”
Ullman agrees that the county “has to put something together,” and notes that the recent management change at Surf Air — CEO Jeff Potter and senior vice president of operations Jim Sullivan are out, and a management company, Encompass Aviation, has taken over — has put efforts to regain some quiet behind.
“We’ve been working with Surf Air for years,” Ullman said. “Now we’re back at ground zero, starting with a new management team. The county needs to put something in place.”
The county board of supervisors is expected to take up the issue again in July, and several options have been floated, from establishing some kind of curfew limiting flights to raising airport fees enough to make it a problem for Surf Air to operate.
On Saturday, June 17, 2017 a protest was held specifically targeting Surf Air. Residents from Bay Area cities attended the protest at San Carlos Airport (KSQL).
Customers of Surf Air arriving or departing from the San Carlos Airport Saturday morning, June 17, were greeted by a crowd of protesters waving picket signs and passionately shouting, “No more Surf Air,” and other slogans.
When one of the blue-and-white turboprop PC-12s used by the subscription-based commuter airline arrived, the group of protesters – numbering more than 50 people at times – moved to a chain-link fence to confront the five passengers who disembarked.
“No more Surf Air,” the group chanted in unison. “You disturb our lives,” shouted one protestor. “We’ve had it,” yelled another.
Picket signs ranged from professionally printed signs that said “No Fair – No More Surf Air” to hand-drawn signs with slogans such as “Like a Bad Neighbor, Surf Air is There,” “Horsley – Say Neigh to Surf Air” (aimed at county Supervisor Don Horsley), and “Surf Less, Sleep More.” One said simply: “Surf Err.”
“There are humans underneath these airplanes who are suffering so a few people can have a convenient service,” said North Fair Oaks resident Heather Brinkerhoff, who was there with her 23-month-old son. The planes often wake up her son, she said, and make it unpleasant to be in their yard.
Ms. Brinkerhoff said her family previously lived near the train tracks in Menlo Park, so she’s had experience with noise. But unlike train noise, which she said her family got used to, the noise from Surf Air’s turboprop PC-12s is grating and impossible to ignore, she said.
One of Surf Air’s customers had a suggestion for the protestors. “You guys ought to move,” he said, as he exited the terminal and got into his car.
Winn Siegman, who has lived in North Fair Oaks for 29 years, said he’d never really even thought about the fact that there was an airport in San Carlos until Surf Air began using it.
Because Surf Air’s Pilatus PC-12s carry fewer than nine passengers, under FAA regulations they may operate out of the San Carlos Airport even though it is a general aviation, not a commercial, airport. The airport is considered a “reliever airport,” keeping small planes out of busy regional airports such as San Jose, San Francisco International and Oakland.
Mr. Siegman’s sign expressed support for the San Carlos Airport, as did many of the other protestors.
“The airport is not at all the issue. The pilots are not the issue,” said Tom Holt of Atherton, who lives under the flight path used most often by Surf Air. The issue is, he said, “just Surf Air and the noise they make.”
Anna Traver and her husband, Michael Pagano, and many of their neighbors came from North Fair Oaks, an unincorporated neighborhood between Atherton and Redwood City that is also under Surf Air’s flight path.
“The noise is getting increasingly incessant,” Ms. Traver said, with planes waking her up at 5:45 a.m. and again at 11:30 p.m. “They’re growing,” she said of Surf Air, which recently announced it would add 48 weekly flights at the San Carlos Airport this summer.
Other protesters came from Sunnyvale and Cupertino, where Tony Guan said he has 200 flights headed to different airports going over his house daily.
“We really cannot take more,” he said. Although the Surf Air flights are at a much higher altitude there than they are closer to the airport, the noise from the turboprop planes is impossible to ignore, he said.
The Sunnyvale and Cupertino residents said their main concern is that the attempts by San Mateo County and Surf Air to shift flights away from the communities close to the airport by sending planes over the Bay means more flights are going over their homes.
“It’s a shifting of airplane noise,” Mr. Guan said.
Organizers of the protest estimate that 120 people took part during the 9 a.m. to noon protest, with about 30 to 40 of them from Sunnyvale and Cupertino.
Participants said they plan more protests, and have begun organizing one for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors’ offices in Redwood City.
Posted in The Almanac by Barbara Wood June 18 2017
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A Surf Air Protest March will be held Saturday, June 17, 2017 from 9AM-noon at Surf Air’s San Carlos terminal at 701 Skyway Road, San Carlos. Parking will be available nearby at 795 Skyway Road. Restrooms and shady areas will be available for protestors.
The purpose of the protest is to encourage Surf Air to significantly curtail the disruptive noise disturbances their planes create or to cease their San Carlos airport operations completely.
Protestors are encouraged to not disrupt airport operations, block road traffic and to stay on sidewalks as much as possible.
Volunteers are needed to create and design signs and pamphlets, to help with media outreach/coordination and other things that may come up. Please use the contact form to reach out to help!
Download the flyer of the event – print to hand out to your neighbors.
Per the following news article: May 20, 2017 Daily Journal article by Anna Schuessler. One paragraph states
“At the meeting 5/18/17, county officials shared the new measures generated since they proposed the curfew in March, which include improving the system used to track flights coming in and out of the airport, developing an incentive program to encourage pilots to fly planes at less disruptive times and hiring a communications specialist to ensure pilots understand noise abatement procedures.”
For many who thought the curfew did not go far enough, particularly those who experience departures starting at 6 am, those County suggested measures were insufficient.
Mike Callagy, Assistant County Manager, emphasized a new Surf owner, a new chief pilot, a new CEO, and a new attitude. There was no mention of an agreement to scrap the curfew or any mention of the increase in flights June 1. Mr. Callagy is new to us to this issue, and he has now been “schooled” by Surf like the rest of us. They have no intention of cooperating or doing anything other than maximizing revenue.
Here is a paraphrase of the County’s response:
“As of the meeting time on Thursday, we had no idea about the proposed 12 new flights by SA into San Carlos. We don’t have any agreement with Surf Air, the Pilots Association or any other charter company in regard to the curfew or any of the other proposed changes. We have had productive conversations with these entities over a period of time and those discussions are ongoing, but these 12 proposed new flights a week by SA cause us all great concern and will be the subject of any future discussions with all involved parties. I did not find out about the proposed new flights until Friday night around 5p.m. In fact, I spoke to the new Chief Pilot Friday at 4 pm about how disappointed I was with this announcement about a deal and he was also shocked that something like that went out when we were just starting to have good discussions. He likewise didn’t say anything about new flights. I called him back on Monday and he confirmed he had no idea SA was adding new flights and neither did his boss. He explained Encompass operates the planes, but don’t have anything to do with the schedule and no one from SA had conferred with him about the schedule.
Curfew is still on the table as an option.”
Anna Schuessler of the Daily Journal covers the meeting in her May 20, 2017 article.
The article reads as follows:
County floats efforts to mitigate airport noise: New flight routes, improved tracking among new measures
County officials presented a number of measures aimed at addressing citizen concerns about aircraft noise stemming from the San Carlos Airport Thursday amid continued concerns expressed by Peninsula residents and their neighbors to the south.
Among the new strategies proposed at a community meeting at the FATCO building in downtown Redwood City was the exploration of new flight patterns taking planes over fewer residences, which Assistant County Manager Mike Callagy said had come out of renewed conversations between small-aircraft, members-only Surf Air, the San Carlos Airport Association, which represents many pilots using the airport, and the county in recent weeks.
“These conversations have been fruitful, they have been progressive, they have been good,” he said.
Though no formal agreement had been reached, Callagy said talks between these groups since the county proposed changes to the airport’s policies calling for few flights and even 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. restrictions for certain aircraft has yielded several new measures aimed at addressing resident concerns about flight, takeoff and landing patterns coming in and out of the airport just south of Redwood Shores and east of Highway 101.
Noise from aircraft using the San Carlos Airport has drawn the ire of nearby residents in the last few years since 2013, when Surf Air began routing flights through the general aviation airport where pilots of small aircraft train and store their aircraft. To mitigate the effects of Surf Air flights, a cross-jurisdictional working group, including the Federal Aviation Administration, county Supervisor Warren Slocum, staff from the offices of U.S. representatives Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, San Carlos airport staff and Surf Air representatives, designed a six-month trial from July to January of a flight route directing Surf Air flights in and out of the San Carlos Airport over the Bay instead of Peninsula neighborhoods. The FAA, which is responsible for approving new flight patterns, is in the process of conducting an environmental review of what was called the Bayside Visual Approach.
At Thursday’s meeting, county officials shared the new measures generated since they proposed the curfew in March, which include improving the system used to track flights coming in and out of the airport, developing an incentive program to encourage pilots to fly planes at less disruptive times and hiring a communications specialist to ensure pilots understand noise abatement procedures.
For Dimitri Vandellos, president of the Greater East San Carlos Neighborhood Association, the new measures did not signal meaningful change. Vandellos expressed frustration that members of his community, which has been active in voicing concerns about the number of planes and training helicopters flying at low altitudes over their homes in recent years, have not been included in recent stakeholder meetings.
“The county process has suffered from a real lack of transparency,” he said at Thursday’s meeting.
Vandellos said he found the conclusions coming out the conversations between the county, Surf Air and the San Carlos Airport Association to be deeply disappointing because they did not incorporate the input of the various communities affected by the noise.
Several Sunnyvale residents attended the event to voice concerns about use of the Bayside Visual Approach, which has sent an increased number of Surf Air planes over their homes, which are already passed over by several commercial airplanes using San Jose International Airport. Though the flight pattern is still under review, Callagy confirmed that Surf Air has been given authorization to use the route on a case-by-case basis even after its trial ended in January. Sunnyvale Councilman Larry Klein said he was hopeful the agencies involved would identify a solution that addressed the concerns voiced by residents of the many cities affected by increased airplane noise in recent months.
“My biggest concerns are we need better communication and ways for our residents and the rest of the Peninsula to raise noise issues,” he said.
Marsha Cohen, a resident of Redwood City’s North Fair Oaks neighborhood, said she has been involved in community outreach meetings on this topic since 2012. Cohen expressed frustration with the lengthy process, which she said has included several studies by federal, state and local agencies.
“Study after study has been conducted, there seems to be a lot of overlap between these studies, and I think these studies tend to drag on,” she said.
In April, the county began collecting community input on a noise compatibility study the FAA is conducting, expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete and provide a comprehensive assessment of the airport’s traffic. Callagy said he would know more about the feasibility and timeline after county supervisors review some of these measures at their June meeting, and thanked residents for coming to express their views.
“We have a good dialogue going on right now, and we hope to continue that dialogue,” he said.
This Community Meeting message does not say whether community members will be able to speak for 2 minutes. This posting is not easy to find. The County wants a low turnout, except for the members of the airport community who received notice of this meeting.
From the County of San Mateo Email Updates
Please join us for a Community Meeting to share ideas generated by neighborhood representatives and airport users in recent focus groups and provide input on options the County is currently evaluating for reducing aircraft noise generated by the San Carlos Airport, including the proposed curfew ordinance.
Please join us on Thursday, May 18th at 6:00 PM until 7:30 PM:
555 Marshall Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
Parking is available (free after 6:00 PM) in the County Parking Garage at 1017 Middlefield Road (between Veterans Blvd & County Center) in Redwood City.
All information presented at the meeting will be available on the Airports website at http://publicworks.smcgov.org/san-carlos-airport. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can email a comment to SQLFlightRestrictions@smcgov.org. If you have any questions, please contact Airport staff at (650) 573-3700.
To be notified of future meetings, please subscribe to San Mateo County’s GovDelivery Service at: http://cmo.smcgov.org/newsroom.
The County and the airport have hired a firm to do a Part 150 study. There will be four meetings. First one was the evening of 4/20/17. Others will be scheduled later and (more) notice provided. Calmtheskies.org will post them as will the website below. We are part of the steering committee – the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC). We will post information from those PAC meetings, including information from the first one held the afternoon of 4/20/17.
This study does not solve our noise issue with Surf Air and others that fly the Pilatus and/or fly at very later or very early hours. There is minimal noise metering with the study. This is explained later on this website in the FAQs. The Open House format will allow you to pick up the same material that you can get on the website. The consultants will be there to answer questions. This is not the venue for policy discussions. The meetings have Comment cards and the website has the Comment section with the same card. They prefer emailed comments.
“The Public Information Meeting will be an Open House format. Please feel free to drop by the meeting anytime between 6:00 PM and 7:30 PM to gather information and ask questions about the San Carlos Airport Part 150 Noise Study. In the event you are unable to attend, the materials from the Public Information Meeting as well as subsequent meetings will be posted on the following website http://sancarlosnoise.airportstudy.com.”
The Board of Supervisors will likely consider noise abatement solutions, including the potential restrictions in July. The proposed operational changes at the airport are the latest step to address continued community concerns about the number of flights into the airport and noise levels, especially during hours when more residents are at home. The proposal calls for fewer flights for some aircraft, based on their certified noise level. If approved, flights for some aircraft will also be prohibited between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. every day.
Comments regarding the proposed ordinance should be emailed to: SQLFlightRestrictions@smcgov.org. If clicking on the link does not open your email client, you can open your email and send directly to SQLFlightRestrictions@smcgov.org. The suggested Subject Line for the email is SQL Flight Restrictions.
We encourage you to communicate your support for the proposed ordinance (curfew).
Angered by noise from Pilatus PC-12s operated by Surf Air, residents of San Mateo county have taken a new tack in their fight to shut down the operation. A proposed curfew ordinance, drafted by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, would limit any operator to one take-off and one landing of a noisy airplane between 6pm and 9pm and prohibit all operations after 9pm. In a thinly-veiled attempt to target Surf Air s PC-12 specifically, the definition of noisy airplane is one whose FAA certificated noise level exceeds 74.5dBA. There are several PC-12 configurations, but the quietest one is rated at 74.6dBA.
Noise from turboprop planes is affecting the visitor experience at the National Wildlife Refuge on Bair Island in Redwood City.
Bair Island in Redwood City provides public trails, observation decks, wildlife viewing, spring wildflowers, and outstanding educational exhibits. As a National Wildlife Refuge, it is a place for public recreation and appreciation of nature, and personal renewal in the midst of our urbanized lives. Bair Island was preserved only through the efforts of many dedicated people who stopped the plan for a massive “South Shores” development. Several of these stalwart champions are no longer with us, never having had the chance to enjoy the restored island as we do today.
The levee separating Inner Bair Island from San Francisco Bay was breached in December 2015, returning tidal waters to the island after over one hundred years of separation.
Unfortunately, while the island was closed to the public for habitat restoration, commercial turboprop planes began flying into nearby San Carlos Airport in 2013. Over the past three years, these flights have increased to up to 24 per day. This video shows how the noise from turboprop planes is affecting the visitor experience at Bair Island. The airport is owned and operated by San Mateo County, but officials have told County residents that they are powerless to stop the negative impacts of turboprop planes on our quality of life, and enjoyment of the Refuge.
This video was made with a Nikon D5200 camera on one day, with the microphone volume setting constant throughout the recording.