A Brief History of BVA

And How It's Shifted to Sunnyvale & Cupertino Little by Little

To San Mateo County, do not bother to remove your docs, we have captured screen shorts and downloaded everything we see below


Surf Air began service in June 2013 at SQL: 3 daily arrivals & departures. 


Airport began receiving noise complaints about aircraft arrivals in September 2013


On 11/26/2013, Atherton Mayor, Elizabeth Lewis wrote a letter to request FAA researching a new fly route. She wrote” Ideally this new approach would be further east of the existing straight-in approach, possibly over the HWY 101 corridor, with care to not create flight noise over other neighborhoods.” (Source: https://www.ci.atherton.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=335 )


On 12/09/2013, Atherton hosted a town hall meeting and presented a new alternate fly route (now called BVA) to deal with 25 household’s airplane complaints. During the meeting, they presented a new route to  dump airplane noise to Sunnyvale and Cupertino.( Source: http://ca-atherton.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/658 ). Sarcastically, totally it only has 25 households to submit 49 complaints from 06/01/13 to 11/15/13.


Warren Slocum, the 4th district supervisor of San Mateo County, sent a letter to FAA for advocating BVA in December,2014.( http://ca-atherton.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/1747  )




Atherton: County supes step into airport noise battle



Supervisor Horsley said the airline has increased its flights from three a day when it started, to a current 22 inbound and 22 outbound flights a day."This is a general aviation airport; we do not want it to become a commercial airport," Supervisor Horsley said. "We don't think this little airport was meant to have a carrier like this."The county even recently hired a mediator to work with Surf Air in an attempt to get the carrier to limit the number of its flights. Did it work? "No," Supervisor Horsley said, it did not.



San Mateo County officials have discussed ways to reduce the noise with Surf Air for nearly three years, without success. Now the county will conduct an analysis that could lead to some restrictions on Surf Air’s operations.

Supervisor Don Horsley and board President Warren Slocum — who have participated in talks with Surf Air and the Federal Aviation Administration — said they’ve lost faith in the company’s willingness to cut down on the noise voluntarily. Horsley said he’s heard complaints from many residents, some of whom claim that the racket is affecting their health.



Mr. Sullivan said the airline has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration's Northern California air traffic control branch, known as Norcal TRACON. They are trying to find a way to move the commuter airline's planes away from the neighborhoods where residents say the noise has been making their lives miserable.

The route won't provide complete relief to those who live under the current flight path because, Mr. Sullivan said, it can only be used under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions. That means that if pilots can't see the airport from the point at which they start the approach, which is near Sunnyvale, the current GPS approach will continue to be used, he said. Rainy or foggy days can limit that visibility.

At the request of the Almanac, San Carlos Airport Assistant Airport Manager Chris St. Peter examined weather records for the last year at the airport. He said that in 2015, aircraft would have been able to arrive at the airport using only a visual approach slightly more than 86 percent of the time.

Mr. Porter told the supervisors that the county has hired three consultants: an aviation consultant, an aviation noise consultant and a polling firm. "We're looking at policies and procedures," he said, including surveying what other general aviation airports do.

"We're also potentially looking at landing fees," he said, including software to help with that process. He said the county is also examining incentives for those who follow the airport's voluntary noise abatement rules.


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 on June 20 told San Mateo County, which owns and operates the San Carlos Airport, that the modified approach to the airport, which the county had asked for as a "noise mitigation measure," can be used as a test for six months.



Four different procedures were tested before settling on the visual approach solution. Instead of flying the GPSY or Z straight in to Runway 30 and over residential areas, the Surf Air pilots instead cross the initial fix (AMEBY) at about 4,000 feet then turn north toward Moffett Field, fly over the bay then turn back toward San Carlos, leaving sufficient space for a stabilized roughly two-mile final. After selecting the procedure, five Surf Air check airmen flew the visual approach 31 times. “We got universally positive comments from the crews,” Sullivan said. And there was only one noise complaint, but that turned out not to be a Surf Air airplane.

There are some restrictions on using the procedure when San Francisco has simultaneous ILS approaches in low visibility or during inclement weather, but according to an analysis by San Carlos Airport, weather conditions should allow Surf Air to fly the new approach about 85 percent of the time. Surf Air averages 18 operations into San Carlos per day, with more during the week and fewer on weekends.



"This is war," said Phil Wasserstein, a Menlo Park resident and a neurologist. Dr. Wasserstein said he reviewed medical literature and found studies linking noise to increased cardiovascular disease risk.

Supervisor Horsley said Surf Air's initial move into the San Carlos Airport "really caught us off guard." What was once three round trips a day is now 22, he said.

The county has done a number of things to try to control the noise problems, including forming a working group of local officials and residents, consulting with the Federal Aviation Administration and, most recently, starting a study and hiring consultants to look at possible actions.

He said the county has taken some concrete actions, including bulldozing the building that Surf Air used for its passengers before and after flights and putting restrictions on airport parking. They hired a mediator to try to get the airline to cut flights back to eight round trips a day, but were not successful, he said.

One action which both sides had hoped might cut back noise complaints is a new route the airline may use in good weather, when air traffic allows, that takes the planes over the Bay instead of the Peninsula.

A six-month test of that route was approved by the FAA and began July 5, but foggy weather and air traffic have allowed it to be used just a little more than 67 percent of the time. Residents say early morning flights continue to go over their homes most of the time



Jim Sullivan, Surf Air’s senior vice president of operations, told this newspaper in an August phone interview that it was a mistake not to consult Sunnyvale about the new flight path, saying the initial focus was on communities immediately surrounding San Carlos.

“In hindsight it was an oversight not to include Sunnyvale, but the majority of the focus was on entry which starts farther up from Sunnyvale,” he said. “It’s our desire this [new flight path] would be a permanent addition to the procedures. We feel this mitigates noise concerns from the Peninsula and so far it’s been very easy to implement for our pilots and would bring a lot of relief to the communities.”



In an effort to remove some of its planes from the flight path that takes them over the Midpeninsula, Surf Air in July began flying a new route that takes it over the Bay. Many of the Sunnyvale residents at the meeting said they believe the new route is now over their homes.

Surf Air said it is now using the new route a little more than 50 percent of the time.

Sunnyvale resident Kerri Webb said Sunnyvale is "the dumping ground" for the Surf Air noise. "We hate Surf Air, too," she said. "They sound like go-carts in the sky."

Another Sunnyvale resident, Rachel She, had a similar complaint. "You're basically just taking the waste from one back yard and dumping it in another," she said.

After the meeting, however, airport manager Gretchen Kelly said that while the San Carlos Airport has received 333 noise complaints from 61 households in Sunnyvale since Surf Air began flying the new approach, only two of the households making complaints are actually under the new flight path. "The other 59 homes were already impacted by Surf Air flights prior to the implementation" of the new approach, she said.



FAA says six-month trial is over and evaluation will start

The letter, dated Dec. 30 but distributed via email on Jan. 3, says the alternate flight path, known as the Bayside approach, "was developed for use by Surf Air in an effort to reduce aircraft noise for approximately 140,000 residents living near the GPS approach into the San Carlos Airport." The letter says Surf Air used the alternate route for about 60 percent of its flights during the trial period.

Board of Supervisors President Don Horsley said he at first had believed the FAA's approval of the Bayside route was permanent. "Only later did the county become aware that this was a 'test' and the county didn’t necessarily know that the FAA would abruptly end the test," he said.

Atherton Mayor Mike Lempres said he had received numerous emails from residents upset about the ending of the Bayside route trial. He said the town would let the FAA know "we don't want this to go back to the old way" and try to get permission to continue to use the route during the evaluation period. "It's clearly important to our residents," he said.

Mr. Callagy said the county hopes the FAA sees the continuation of the alternative route "as not the perfect solution to this ongoing issue, but rather the best solution for now to bring some relief to those most impacted by commercial flights coming into the San Carlos Airport."




The county was told, Horsley said, that not only were there no regulations stopping Surf Air from operating out of San Carlos Airport, but that there are federal regulations that make it so the county can’t stop Surf Air, at least not while it is receiving federal transportation grant money.




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." from San Carlos County Noise Meeting May 18, 2017 




Redwood Assistant County Manager Mike Callagy said though the flight pattern is still under review, Surf Air has been given authorization to use the route on a case-by-case basis even after its trial ended in January. 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.




The county's growing number of employees who are addressing the airport problems say they are also frustrated, but a solution may still be more than a year away. Later this month the Board of Supervisors plans to consider spending more on the search for a solution by:

• Hiring a full-time airport communication specialist to work with the public and airport users, attend industry conferences and neighborhood meetings, and educate airport users about voluntary noise abatement procedures.

• Hiring a consultant to determine if there is a flight route that will let aircraft use the San Carlos Airport while avoiding residential areas, both in good weather and bad.

• Purchasing an automated system to track planes near the airport, so county employees no longer need to spend 10 to 20 minutes per noise complaint figuring out which aircraft was involved. (Gretchen Kelly, the airport's manager, says in the past 90 days 6,492 noise complaints were filed from 193 households. About 40 percent are about aircraft not using San Carlos Airport, she said.)


In the meantime, the county's work on a possible curfew on noisy planes, limiting hours and numbers of flights for certain aircraft, has moved to the background while the county investigates other possible solutions.

The issue was muddied when the San Carlos Airport Association, representing some of the 25 businesses and the pilots operating out of the airport, issued a press release on May 18. The statement said the county, Encompass Aviation (a subcontractor that took over Surf Air's flight operations on May 15) and the airport association had reached an agreement "in principal" that included a county promise "to drop any further discussion of the proposed curfew ordinance, entirely and permanently."




San Carlos airport manager , Gretchen Kelly, presented “BVA is a successful community outreach case” to FAA. They claimed that the BVA was a success with 90% noise complaint reduction from San Mateo County residents, and 60% overflight reduction for the residents in the same area (see Image 1). But nowhere in the paper they mentioned or acknowledged the increased airplane traffic as well as noise complaints from cities like Sunnyvale and Cupertino. (https://www.faa.gov/airports/western_pacific/airports_news_events/annual_conference/2017/media/case-study-community-outreach.pdf)


The Bayside Visual Approach was tested for six months (7/16 - 1/17). During the six month test, this approach reduced overflights for San Mateo residents by 60%.Please sign this petition to ask the FAA to reinstate the approach and make it permanent. Sign Petition to the FAA



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.”



The six-month trial ended in January, and according to a statement released Wednesday from Surf Air, the results of the trial “found the routing had a noticeable and positive impact on residents living around San Carlos Airport.”

The company stated it will continue to use the route and to work with the Federal Aviation Administration on alternative flight paths. Surf Air might also increase flight altitude over Sunnyvale and reduce the use of engine power to dampen the noise.


06/21/17 Atherton City wrote a letter to San Mateo supervisors


06/21/17 Atherton resident wrote a letter to San Mateo supervisors


07/6/17 San Mateo Supervisor, Don Horsely, wrote a letter to Atherton Mayor



County OKs $1 million for airport noise solutions



The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the landing and overnight parking fees at its Tuesday, Aug. 8, meeting. The landing fees, which apply only to a class of aircraft that includes charter operators and Surf Air, are effective immediately at both the county-owned airports, in San Carlos and Half Moon Bay.

The $75-per-landing fee means Surf Air would pay $444,600 a year for its current 114 weekly landings.



The Federal Aviation Administration is considering making the route Surf Air has used to avoid homes on the Midpeninsula – by flying over the Bay – an official fair-weather route.

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.

Because the air space in the Bay Area is so congested, the FAA had little choice in choosing the route, she said. "We run out of room very, very quickly," she said. "This was the best we could do."

Surf Air and Encompass, the company that has taken over the operations part of the SurfAir business, say that they have been working to find another air route to the San Carlos Airport and have experimented with a route that comes in from the east over the Bay and avoids more residential areas.

"We need a global solution," said Charlie Caviris, the Encompass chief pilot. The route from the east "is a way that we can greatly reduce noise for communities," he said.

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.



After a six-month test of the route in the second half of 2016, the FAA and Surf Air determined the route was viable, confirmed FAA spokesman Ian Gregor in an email.

The FAA is in the process of conducting an environmental review of the proposed route, including a noise analysis,” he said in the email. “The review also will include evaluating all comments we receive. Depending on the outcome of the environmental review, the route could be implemented in 2018.”



The Bay Side Visual Approach is undergoing environmental review, according to the FAA's presentation. Once that concludes, the FAA will decide whether or not to make it a published flight route, which would allow pilots relying on on-board instruments to use the route. Pilots relying on visuals rather than instruments are not bound to approved routes.