County Challenge to Surf Air (Encompass) Explained

On June 15, 2017 Encompass filed an Application with the Department of Transportation (DOT) “for authority to conduct scheduled passenger operations as a commuter air carrier.” The San Mateo County filed an Answer in Opposition to this Application on July 6, 2017.
This Answer is attached as a pdf. The material gets complicated.Summarizing Surf Air’s business plan, we quote Mr. Allen, “It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.”

Some of the statements from the County Answer:

“Thus Surf Air’s entire legal structure seems designed to circumvent direct regulation by DOT.” Pg 19

“If Encompass Application is granted, Encompass would facilitate the unauthorized operations of Surf Air.” Pg 18

“Surf Air’s operation is a classic indirect carrier operation and its “innovative” business model is simply a distraction.” Pg 12

…the arrangement between Encompass and Surf Air seems carefully designed to avoid DOT regulation of Surf Air.” Pg 18

“County also requests the DOT to investigate (1) Surf Air for operating as a direct or indirect air carrier without the appropriate economic authority from DOT..” pg 19

There is a more detailed discussion of Surf’s operation in the County Answer. Here are some of the points with their page location if you want to follow the subterfuge as Surf tries to game the system so they can fly what we consider an “airline” (Part 121, flying scheduled passenger service, TSA) under rules (Part 135) applicable to a charter or commuter service.

In the beginning, and “as of late 2016, Surf owned and operated its own aircraft in intrastate travel, and therefore did not require economic authority from the DOT. When Surf decided to add interstate service, which would have made it a direct carrier, it changed its model, as described above, to cease direct operations itself and to use the services of other direct carriers to provide its service.” Pg 18 – 19

The County Answer claims Surf Air knew it would need permission from the federal government for interstate flights and that Encompass has applied for the federal approval “only to facilitate Surf Air’s plans.”

“Surf leased all its aircraft to Encompass and then contracted with Encompass to provide full use of those aircraft for Surf Air’s customers. Surf contracted with Advanced Air to provide its Las Vegas flights, and Advanced Air then sought economic authority to provide interstate service. Now Encompass also seeks economic authority to provide Surf Air’s interstate service.” Pg 19

Encompass, which in mid-May took over Surf Air’s flight operations, currently can only fly within California. “Surf air separately contracts with operators – Encompass and Advanced- and dictates virtually all of the service – schedule, aircraft type, airport, and livery-other than the actual operation of the flight.” Pg 12

Surf Air is a Direct Carrier. See page 12 – 17 for a good explanation of the why Surf would be considered a direct air carrier in spite of their claims otherwise.

Surf Air is a common carrier pg 17 and an air carrier engaged in interstate air transportation pg 18

“If Encompass Application is granted, Encompass would facilitate the unauthorized operations of Surf Air.” Pg 18

“…the arrangement between Encompass and Surf Air seems carefully designed to avoid DOT regulation of Surf Air.” Pg 18

“Thus Surf Air’s entire legal structure seems designed to circumvent direct regulation by DOT.” Pg 19

“County also requests the DOT to investigate (1) Surf Air for operating as a direct or indirect air carrier without the appropriate economic authority from DOT…” pg 19

This situation is discussed further in the website FAQ (26) Who Owns Surf Air Now?

Voice your opinion to the FAA by Oct 27, 2017

On Sept. 27, the FAA held what it called an informational meeting in San Jose as part of its consideration of whether to make what it calls the Bayside Visual Approach an official charted flight path.

The FAA says comments will be taken on the Bayside approach until Oct. 27, 2017 at 11:59pm. Comments can be emailed to: or mailed to: Noise Concerns, AJV-W25, FAA, 1601 Lind Ave. SW, Renton, WA 98057. Comments may also be made on the FAA website, which also includes a number of presentations from the meeting.

It’s important to ensure that your voice is heard to counter opponents of the BVA or supporters of Surf Air. Please write to the FAA to ensure they understand you support the BVA.

Residents of Sunnyvale are in the Surf Air GPS flight path. They are justifiably upset with the Surf noise as we are. They feel that the approval of the BVA will be the end of Surf’s efforts to appease residents. We need to continue efforts to get Surf out of San Carlos airport.

According to the FAA, the Sunnyvale GPS slight path is 15 miles. Surf planes have flown 13 of those miles (86%) before the decision is made to continue over some of Sunnyvale and over Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, and San Carlos with the GPS path or to fly east over some of Sunnyvale to Moffett Field and over the bay. Use of the BVA will still have significant flight time and noise over Sunnyvale. The effort to reduce Surf noise does not end with the BVA.

(FAA) To Host Meeting for KSQL Bayside Visual Approach

There will be a meeting on Sept 27, 2017 in San Jose to hear from the FAA regarding the Bayside Visual Approach. If you can’t make it to the meeting, please write to the FAA at the email address at the end of this announcement.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is planning to hold an informational meeting regarding the six-month operational test of the Bayside Visual Approach (BVA) that was conducted July 2016 through January 2017. The BVA informational meeting will include presentations by the FAA, County of San Mateo, and Surf Air/Encompass. The FAA’s meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 from 6pm until 9pm at the following location:

Santa Clara County Government Center
Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium
70 West Hedding Street, San Jose, CA 95110

To submit a comment on the Bayside Visual Approach please email
or write to:
Noise Concerns
1601 Lind Ave SW, Renton WA 98057.

For additional information regarding the FAA’s meeting please contact Mindy Wright, Manager, NAS Analytics & Environmental Team, Operations Support Group at

New fees imposed at two San Mateo County airports

County board adopts $75 landing fee for charter flights at San Carlos, Half Moon Bay airports

The Mercury News
August 8, 2017
By Kevin Kelly

San Mateo County is introducing two new fees at two airports to address impacts from an increase in charter flights.

The county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday adopted new fees for charter flights into San Carlos Airport and Half Moon Bay Airport that will be paid by charter operators and passengers. Beginning immediately, all charter flights will be charged a $75 landing fee at both airports.

In addition, for a six-month trial period, passengers at San Carlos Airport will be charged $10 a day for vehicle parking. At the end of the period, the board will review the parking fee and consider whether to continue imposing it. The parking fee was rejected for Half Moon Bay Airport because it has sufficient parking. The board also adopted a new policy that will allow airport cameras to be used to verify incoming charter flights and then bill the operators.

The landing and parking fees together are expected to generate roughly $150,000 in net revenue annually, according to a news release. The landing fee will go toward offsetting increasing costs needed to maintain runways, taxiways and aircraft parking areas, as well as additional staffing and expanded hours of operations to deal with the increase in charter landings.

“While the total number of operations has remained steady over the last five years, commuter and charter operations have increased significantly in that same period,” the release states.

Surf Air is one of five charter operations that fly out of San Carlos, according to the airport. Of the charters, Surf Air runs the most flights by far and is the only one that has scheduled departures.

The board argued that the $75 landing fee is consistent with landing fees charged at several nearby airports. The fee is supported by the San Carlos Airport Association, the California Pilot Association and the San Carlos Airport’s aviation consultants.

Read the Article >>

No More Surf Air Protest June 17, 2017

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.

Read the full story >>

Surf Air Protest

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.

Surf Air plane taking off from tarmac while protesters wave signs. June 17, 2017

Surf Air plane taking off from tarmac while protesters wave signs. June 17, 2017

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.

Protesters at the San Carlos Airport on Airport Way, in front of Surf Air office. June 17, 2017

Protesters at the San Carlos Airport on Airport Way, in front of Surf Air office. June 17, 2017

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.

Protesters at the San Carlos Airport near the Surf Air tarmac. June 17, 2017

Protesters at the San Carlos Airport near the Surf Air tarmac. June 17, 2017

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
Read the full article >>

June 17 Surf Air Protest March – Come Join Us!

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.

What is status of the curfew proposal and the increase in flights June 1?

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.”