News

FAA, elected officials hear complaints of aircraft noise

Another public forum set for Wednesday, June 29, in Mountain View

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) got an earful in Redwood City on June 15, having completed a study of noise complaints from residents of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties regarding aircraft headed to San Francisco International Airport.

About 100 residents from these three counties showed up at a Sequoia High School auditorium, many articulating their grievances. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last.

The gathering was the second of three meetings of the Select Committee On South Bay Arrivals, a group of elected officials, four from each county, and chaired by Santa Clara County Supervisor and former state legislator Joe Simitian. The first meeting was held in May in Santa Cruz and the third is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 29 in Mountain View at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

The committee, commissioned by local congressional representatives, meets to listen to resident complaints in light of a recent FAA feasibility study on proposed remedies, and to make recommendations.

Complaints at the forum from Midpeninsula residents included allegations that the FAA did not adequately consider having aircraft approach SFO by coming up the Bay, that the agency dealt in half-truths in reporting altitudes over a Woodside navigation beacon, that it cares more about operational efficiency than noise abatement, and that it has not been open, transparent or neighborly in moving air traffic to new flight paths.

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Glen Martin, the FAA's regional administrator, kicked off the forum, saying that the public has asked the agency if it can do better. The feasibility study is "a very important step along the way" for getting local input on noise impacts while modernizing a system that annually transports 750 million people and includes a detailed look at public complaints and suggestions and their impact on aircraft, safety and traffic at Bay Area airports, he said.

A key FAA objective: increasing the number of aircraft that, under satellite control and with engines at idle, glide into airports – like sliding down a banister, Martin said.

Gliding to a landing remains something of an ideal. In complicated air traffic situations, air traffic controllers take over to direct arriving flights. This "vectoring" process has planes descend from altitude to altitude – like walking down steps, Martin said.

Vectoring is annoying to many residents in that pilots use noisy air brakes and rev their engines to maintain momentum in the denser air.

"Vector traffic is much slower and much louder" when crossing over navigation points in the Woodside hills and above Menlo Park, said Dr. Tina Nguyen, a Portola Valley resident who spoke at the forum for Californians for Quiet Skies.

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Nguyen accused the FAA of ignoring its own findings. In its study, the agency said "the majority" of aircraft crossing the Woodside navigation point are from across the ocean and arrive at a quiet 8,000 feet above sea level. A "small portion" glide in, which lowers them to 6,000 feet, the agency said, adding that "there is also some vectoring activity of SFO arrivals" from the north and south.

But a chart in the analysis shows north/south traffic not only exceeding oceanic traffic, but also crossing at 6,000 feet, presumably vectoring over homes that are already 2,000 feet above sea level, Nguyen said.

She faulted the FAA for not examining offshore holding patterns as a way to reduce vectoring, and for not focusing on the Midpeninsula given its preponderance as a source of noise complaints.

Martin did not respond.

FAA responds

The Voice's sister paper, the Almanac, asked the FAA questions on several specific issues, including whether efficiency is a higher priority than noise abatement, the feasibility of returning to older routes over the Bay, the extent to which complaints have gone up since the 2015 debut of new flight paths, the rationale for using computer models rather than actually measuring noise on the ground, and chances for higher altitude crossings over Woodside.

In response, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor referred the Almanac to a technical discussion of noise modeling, and to a May 2015 statement from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta about "a multi-year effort to update the scientific evidence on the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports."

"The FAA is sensitive to public concerns about aircraft noise. We understand the interest in expediting this research, and we will complete this work as quickly as possible," Huerta said. "This Administration takes its responsibility to be responsive to communities' concerns over air noise seriously."

A noise-related survey is ongoing in 20 cities with major airports through December 2016, according to the statement.

Religious freedom?

At the Redwood City forum, a physicist echoed the opinion of many when he said he was "stunned" by the FAA's use of computer models to gauge noise impacts. The agency should "reflect ground truth" by measuring actual noise, he said.

Nancy Dietz Mosbacher said her family did not move to Woodside to live next to the airport, but that the airport had moved to Woodside – an argument heard several times in the context of other communities.

A Santa Cruz County resident accused low-flying aircraft of endangering his religious freedom.

"My prophet is Ralph Waldo Emerson," he told the committee, perhaps mistaking Emerson for his solitude-loving acolyte Henry David Thoreau.

Many residents spoke of a noise-reduction kit available to remedy a high-pitched tone from the Airbus A320, and that airlines flying into SFO should be required to retrofit the aircraft.

At least one resident accused the FAA of gradually moving traffic onto newer, more concentrated flight paths before claiming those paths as existing routes for implementing the Next Generation (NextGen) gliding system of arrivals.

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FAA, elected officials hear complaints of aircraft noise

Another public forum set for Wednesday, June 29, in Mountain View

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Jun 29, 2016, 10:25 am

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) got an earful in Redwood City on June 15, having completed a study of noise complaints from residents of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties regarding aircraft headed to San Francisco International Airport.

About 100 residents from these three counties showed up at a Sequoia High School auditorium, many articulating their grievances. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last.

The gathering was the second of three meetings of the Select Committee On South Bay Arrivals, a group of elected officials, four from each county, and chaired by Santa Clara County Supervisor and former state legislator Joe Simitian. The first meeting was held in May in Santa Cruz and the third is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 29 in Mountain View at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

The committee, commissioned by local congressional representatives, meets to listen to resident complaints in light of a recent FAA feasibility study on proposed remedies, and to make recommendations.

Complaints at the forum from Midpeninsula residents included allegations that the FAA did not adequately consider having aircraft approach SFO by coming up the Bay, that the agency dealt in half-truths in reporting altitudes over a Woodside navigation beacon, that it cares more about operational efficiency than noise abatement, and that it has not been open, transparent or neighborly in moving air traffic to new flight paths.

Glen Martin, the FAA's regional administrator, kicked off the forum, saying that the public has asked the agency if it can do better. The feasibility study is "a very important step along the way" for getting local input on noise impacts while modernizing a system that annually transports 750 million people and includes a detailed look at public complaints and suggestions and their impact on aircraft, safety and traffic at Bay Area airports, he said.

A key FAA objective: increasing the number of aircraft that, under satellite control and with engines at idle, glide into airports – like sliding down a banister, Martin said.

Gliding to a landing remains something of an ideal. In complicated air traffic situations, air traffic controllers take over to direct arriving flights. This "vectoring" process has planes descend from altitude to altitude – like walking down steps, Martin said.

Vectoring is annoying to many residents in that pilots use noisy air brakes and rev their engines to maintain momentum in the denser air.

"Vector traffic is much slower and much louder" when crossing over navigation points in the Woodside hills and above Menlo Park, said Dr. Tina Nguyen, a Portola Valley resident who spoke at the forum for Californians for Quiet Skies.

Nguyen accused the FAA of ignoring its own findings. In its study, the agency said "the majority" of aircraft crossing the Woodside navigation point are from across the ocean and arrive at a quiet 8,000 feet above sea level. A "small portion" glide in, which lowers them to 6,000 feet, the agency said, adding that "there is also some vectoring activity of SFO arrivals" from the north and south.

But a chart in the analysis shows north/south traffic not only exceeding oceanic traffic, but also crossing at 6,000 feet, presumably vectoring over homes that are already 2,000 feet above sea level, Nguyen said.

She faulted the FAA for not examining offshore holding patterns as a way to reduce vectoring, and for not focusing on the Midpeninsula given its preponderance as a source of noise complaints.

Martin did not respond.

FAA responds

The Voice's sister paper, the Almanac, asked the FAA questions on several specific issues, including whether efficiency is a higher priority than noise abatement, the feasibility of returning to older routes over the Bay, the extent to which complaints have gone up since the 2015 debut of new flight paths, the rationale for using computer models rather than actually measuring noise on the ground, and chances for higher altitude crossings over Woodside.

In response, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor referred the Almanac to a technical discussion of noise modeling, and to a May 2015 statement from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta about "a multi-year effort to update the scientific evidence on the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports."

"The FAA is sensitive to public concerns about aircraft noise. We understand the interest in expediting this research, and we will complete this work as quickly as possible," Huerta said. "This Administration takes its responsibility to be responsive to communities' concerns over air noise seriously."

A noise-related survey is ongoing in 20 cities with major airports through December 2016, according to the statement.

Religious freedom?

At the Redwood City forum, a physicist echoed the opinion of many when he said he was "stunned" by the FAA's use of computer models to gauge noise impacts. The agency should "reflect ground truth" by measuring actual noise, he said.

Nancy Dietz Mosbacher said her family did not move to Woodside to live next to the airport, but that the airport had moved to Woodside – an argument heard several times in the context of other communities.

A Santa Cruz County resident accused low-flying aircraft of endangering his religious freedom.

"My prophet is Ralph Waldo Emerson," he told the committee, perhaps mistaking Emerson for his solitude-loving acolyte Henry David Thoreau.

Many residents spoke of a noise-reduction kit available to remedy a high-pitched tone from the Airbus A320, and that airlines flying into SFO should be required to retrofit the aircraft.

At least one resident accused the FAA of gradually moving traffic onto newer, more concentrated flight paths before claiming those paths as existing routes for implementing the Next Generation (NextGen) gliding system of arrivals.

Comments

PH
another community
on Jun 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm
PH, another community
on Jun 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Were you here before the airports? Probably not. Would an intelligent person think that as time passes airports would be busier and therefore noisier? Probably so. Why do so many people want to live near airports and expect to get special treatment to abate the noise at the cost of all taxpayers? If you live in the bay area the least noisy thing might be aircraft. With all the trains, cars and trucks, leaf blowers and other noisy things it seems that people are whining about things they should have known about before moving here. I've lived near airports all my life and just don't understand these complaints. Yes it is noisier, but there has always been noise somewhere over us. It seems that when the pattern shifts we get a new crowd of people whining about the noise others were exposed to before. This is like soda taxes. What's next? Candy bars, cakes, pies, lattes...the list goes on. Aircraft, garbage trucks, cars, trains, leaf blowers, loud music...the list also goes on. Take care of your situation as an individual and let others be. If you don't like noise you can always move somewhere really quiet and live with the inconvenience of having to go get everything you need because it is so far away. But at least it will be quiet.


Tired of Noise
another community
on Jun 30, 2016 at 9:18 am
Tired of Noise, another community
on Jun 30, 2016 at 9:18 am

PM:
I'm sure the same argument has been made about all kinds of pollution: people shouldn't live near the sources, they should just move somewhere else, etc. No one is asking for a completely silent world, but what we do ask for is freedom from pollution of all kinds that has significant negative health and/or environmental impacts.

Besides, where is one supposed to move? Many of us chose where we lived to avoid aircraft noise and now, with no warning or voice in the matter, find ourselves subjected to it relentlessly. Considering how many places are dealing with aviation noise, whether commercial or general, avoiding it is becoming increasingly difficult.

Even if aircraft were completely silent they are far too polluting for continual expansion of aviation to be sustainable. There is simply no justification for the NextGen procedures, the way they were implemented, or their ultimate goal: the significant expansion of aviation.


MVLA
another community
on Jun 30, 2016 at 11:53 pm
MVLA, another community
on Jun 30, 2016 at 11:53 pm

Yeah, like people in MVLA are really close to SFO. 30 miles is nothing.

No, the planes have always been here. There are less than 10% more flying than
before March 15,2015. But the noise is 25 times more.

This is not a question of unavoidable noise. This noise is ON PURPOSE and NEEDLESS.


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