News

FAA vows to take fresh look at flight paths, altitudes

Federal agency responds to flurry of Bay Area complaints about airplane noise

Responding to a rising volume of complaints about airplane noise, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has agreed to take a fresh look at flight paths, plane altitudes and new procedures that would bring some peace to the afflicted skies above San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

In a letter prepared for U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr and Jackie Speier, the federal agency has announced a new three-phased initiative that will explore a variety of possible modifications to flight speeds, altitudes and waypoint locations.

After a preliminary feasibility study in the first phase, the administration would then spend the second phase further studying any amendments and procedures "determined to be initially feasible, flyable, and operationally acceptable from a safety point of view," according to an FAA report released Monday by the three House members. In the third phase, the FAA would formally implement the revised procedures and make whatever airspace changes are deemed appropriate.

The FAA announced its initiative at a time when the number of complaints about airplane noise is skyrocketing and new citizen groups devoted to the topic are sprouting up to lobby change and, in some cases, take legal action.

For many, the problem was exacerbated by Next Generation Air Transportation System (commonly known as NextGen), an effort that the FAA began to roll out last year that standardized travel lanes for aircraft and, in doing so, required planes to share a more narrow band of airspace.

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The change was particularly acute for Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Woodside, Santa Cruz and other communities that are located within the flight paths. In Palo Alto alone, the number of complaints shot up from 60 in June 2014 to 2,733 in June 2015, according to a resolution the City Council passed in August. And in Portola Valley and Woodside, hundreds of residents signed a petition last year complaining about the rising decibel levels.

In August, there were 8,770 complaints from Palo Alto, 12,967 from Santa Cruz and 15,562 from Los Gatos and 2,440 from Portola Valley, according to a report from the SFO Aircraft Noise Abatement Office.

A group, led by Portola Valley resident Dr. Tina Nguyen and Woodside resident Jim Lyons, has filed a petition challenging the FAA's analysis of the new flight plan and its impacts. Both Palo Alto and Portola Valley have also hired consultants to further analyze the airplane noise levels and consider mitigations.

Other communities, including Santa Cruz and Los Gatos, have also reported growing noise levels. The resolution adopted by Palo Alto City Council in August notes that the number of complaints from Los Gatos and Summit/Skyline increased from zero in January and February 2015 to 3,553 in June 2015.

The FAA's new initiative doesn't guarantee any changes, though it does commit the agency to further studying its flight procedures and to coordinating its findings with local stakeholders. During the second phase of the initiative, the FAA will "conduct the formal environmental and safety reviews, coordinate and seek feedback from existing and/or new community roundtables, members of affected industry, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) before moving forward with the formal amendment process."

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According to the FAA's timetable, some of these analyses had already been launched in early October. This includes the analysis of raising the allowed altitude at several Bay Area flight paths, including the "MENLO" waypoint in the Menlo Park and Palo Alto area. The analysis will look at raising the altitude at this waypoint to 5,000 feet, the altitude to which the FAA had previously committed in 2000. Since the launch of NextGen, residents have complained that the altitudes in the area have fallen to between 3,500 and 4,000 feet.

As part of this initiative, the FAA will also consider moving speed adjustments to over water, rather than land; consider changes to air-traffic operations and the potential for using more "fly-friendly" runways to reduce concerns in certain locations, according to the FAA. The agency has also committed to hold community forums to engage the community about the ongoing effort to curb the noise level.

"Addressing noise concerns in a densely populated and operationally complex area like Northern California is best done in a forum (such as existing and/or new roundtables) that includes community leaders and is supported by the FAA and Bay Area Airports," the FAA report states.

Though the outcome is yet to be determined, the three California representatives lauded the FAA's action to address the complaints. In a joint press release, Eshoo called the FAA plan an "important first step."

"The FAA leadership will follow with community meetings, coordinated through our offices, to explain in detail the FAA's plan to address the noise problem being experienced in our regions," Eshoo said.

Farr also characterized the FAA initiative as a good first step and cited is as evidence that the FAA "is willing to consider the changes proposed by the community."

"For months, the commercial aircraft noise in Santa Cruz and the surrounding area has been terrible," Farr said. "From the beginning, I have told the FAA that they created this mess so it is up to them to fix it."

The initiative, he said in the statement, shows that "everyone is committed to developing some real solutions."

"I hope the FAA will continue to listen to the communities it serves and work with them to solve any problems that arise from the switch to the NextGen flight plan," he said.

Speier, whose district encompasses portions of San Francisco and San Mateo County, called that the FAA initiative a "compilation of ideas that were offered by the public regarding SFO and the FAA's recent meetings in our three congressional districts, as well as requests made by the SFO Airport Community Roundtable." Some of these ideas, she said, may be "deemed workable by the FAA and some may not."

"However, having previously been resistant to taking community suggestions, the FAA, for the first time in many years, has committed to studying ideas submitted by the affected communities," Speier said in a statement. "I am gratified that the FAA is rolling up its sleeves to come up with solutions. The health of those who live under constant bombardment of airplane noise is being seriously compromised and the FAA has a responsibility to take action to address it."

Related content:

Two new bills aim to lower volume on airplane noise

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FAA vows to take fresh look at flight paths, altitudes

Federal agency responds to flurry of Bay Area complaints about airplane noise

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Nov 16, 2015, 5:02 pm

Responding to a rising volume of complaints about airplane noise, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has agreed to take a fresh look at flight paths, plane altitudes and new procedures that would bring some peace to the afflicted skies above San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

In a letter prepared for U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr and Jackie Speier, the federal agency has announced a new three-phased initiative that will explore a variety of possible modifications to flight speeds, altitudes and waypoint locations.

After a preliminary feasibility study in the first phase, the administration would then spend the second phase further studying any amendments and procedures "determined to be initially feasible, flyable, and operationally acceptable from a safety point of view," according to an FAA report released Monday by the three House members. In the third phase, the FAA would formally implement the revised procedures and make whatever airspace changes are deemed appropriate.

The FAA announced its initiative at a time when the number of complaints about airplane noise is skyrocketing and new citizen groups devoted to the topic are sprouting up to lobby change and, in some cases, take legal action.

For many, the problem was exacerbated by Next Generation Air Transportation System (commonly known as NextGen), an effort that the FAA began to roll out last year that standardized travel lanes for aircraft and, in doing so, required planes to share a more narrow band of airspace.

The change was particularly acute for Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Woodside, Santa Cruz and other communities that are located within the flight paths. In Palo Alto alone, the number of complaints shot up from 60 in June 2014 to 2,733 in June 2015, according to a resolution the City Council passed in August. And in Portola Valley and Woodside, hundreds of residents signed a petition last year complaining about the rising decibel levels.

In August, there were 8,770 complaints from Palo Alto, 12,967 from Santa Cruz and 15,562 from Los Gatos and 2,440 from Portola Valley, according to a report from the SFO Aircraft Noise Abatement Office.

A group, led by Portola Valley resident Dr. Tina Nguyen and Woodside resident Jim Lyons, has filed a petition challenging the FAA's analysis of the new flight plan and its impacts. Both Palo Alto and Portola Valley have also hired consultants to further analyze the airplane noise levels and consider mitigations.

Other communities, including Santa Cruz and Los Gatos, have also reported growing noise levels. The resolution adopted by Palo Alto City Council in August notes that the number of complaints from Los Gatos and Summit/Skyline increased from zero in January and February 2015 to 3,553 in June 2015.

The FAA's new initiative doesn't guarantee any changes, though it does commit the agency to further studying its flight procedures and to coordinating its findings with local stakeholders. During the second phase of the initiative, the FAA will "conduct the formal environmental and safety reviews, coordinate and seek feedback from existing and/or new community roundtables, members of affected industry, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) before moving forward with the formal amendment process."

According to the FAA's timetable, some of these analyses had already been launched in early October. This includes the analysis of raising the allowed altitude at several Bay Area flight paths, including the "MENLO" waypoint in the Menlo Park and Palo Alto area. The analysis will look at raising the altitude at this waypoint to 5,000 feet, the altitude to which the FAA had previously committed in 2000. Since the launch of NextGen, residents have complained that the altitudes in the area have fallen to between 3,500 and 4,000 feet.

As part of this initiative, the FAA will also consider moving speed adjustments to over water, rather than land; consider changes to air-traffic operations and the potential for using more "fly-friendly" runways to reduce concerns in certain locations, according to the FAA. The agency has also committed to hold community forums to engage the community about the ongoing effort to curb the noise level.

"Addressing noise concerns in a densely populated and operationally complex area like Northern California is best done in a forum (such as existing and/or new roundtables) that includes community leaders and is supported by the FAA and Bay Area Airports," the FAA report states.

Though the outcome is yet to be determined, the three California representatives lauded the FAA's action to address the complaints. In a joint press release, Eshoo called the FAA plan an "important first step."

"The FAA leadership will follow with community meetings, coordinated through our offices, to explain in detail the FAA's plan to address the noise problem being experienced in our regions," Eshoo said.

Farr also characterized the FAA initiative as a good first step and cited is as evidence that the FAA "is willing to consider the changes proposed by the community."

"For months, the commercial aircraft noise in Santa Cruz and the surrounding area has been terrible," Farr said. "From the beginning, I have told the FAA that they created this mess so it is up to them to fix it."

The initiative, he said in the statement, shows that "everyone is committed to developing some real solutions."

"I hope the FAA will continue to listen to the communities it serves and work with them to solve any problems that arise from the switch to the NextGen flight plan," he said.

Speier, whose district encompasses portions of San Francisco and San Mateo County, called that the FAA initiative a "compilation of ideas that were offered by the public regarding SFO and the FAA's recent meetings in our three congressional districts, as well as requests made by the SFO Airport Community Roundtable." Some of these ideas, she said, may be "deemed workable by the FAA and some may not."

"However, having previously been resistant to taking community suggestions, the FAA, for the first time in many years, has committed to studying ideas submitted by the affected communities," Speier said in a statement. "I am gratified that the FAA is rolling up its sleeves to come up with solutions. The health of those who live under constant bombardment of airplane noise is being seriously compromised and the FAA has a responsibility to take action to address it."

Related content:

Two new bills aim to lower volume on airplane noise

Comments

Paul
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2015 at 6:15 pm
Paul, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2015 at 6:15 pm
14 people like this

Hooray!
There is some hope that our local political system actually works.
I sent a long letter to Eshoo, and it seemed at the time to disappear unnoticed. But maybe not! Our rep is doing her job. Thanks, Anna!
:)


Yeah, right
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm
Yeah, right, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm
39 people like this

I'll believe it when they come talk to us.


anonymous
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2015 at 7:38 pm
anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2015 at 7:38 pm
25 people like this

Well, conditions changed. It hasn't always been like this - excessive noise, low flights re-directed right over Palo Alto.
This almost sounds "surprised" in tone..."addressing noise concerns in a densely populated....area"
My point is the CHANGE. All this noise wasn't here before and now it is. It is right here. It isn't a generalized concern about a rise in air traffic.
There was a CHANGE and why we should be made the focal point for the suffering is unacceptable.
And -- We need a CHANGE so the suffering is spread out. There is no logical reason why NOW Palo Alto must take all the suffering.


Resident
Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2015 at 9:12 pm
Resident, Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2015 at 9:12 pm
16 people like this

I'm living with the hope that maybe someday we will have a more peaceful sky over Palo Alto again.


Paly Grad
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 16, 2015 at 9:52 pm
Paly Grad, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 16, 2015 at 9:52 pm
47 people like this

Lots of "Low and Loud" flights this evening:

UAL 384 @ 9:27 pm
JBU1136 @ 9:30 pm
UAL731 @ 9:37 pm
VRD947 @ 9:38 pm
UAL1806 @ 9:40 pm
UAL1263 @ 9:42 pm

all flying under 3,700' over Palo Alto!


stephanie enos
Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2015 at 11:27 pm
stephanie enos, Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2015 at 11:27 pm
15 people like this

Thanks to Paly Grad for registering overhead flights tonight in real time.
The FAA cannot argue with real facts.


Chris
Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2015 at 2:40 am
Chris, Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2015 at 2:40 am
5 people like this

Low and slow is the problem. Adding power is the only way to correct each problem.

Adding power greatly increases the airplane noise we object to.

An airliner gliding down the flight path using minimum power, even if low, is quiet. Add power, not quiet.

I applaud the FAA considering, among other things, two things that can really help...

1. Increase altitudes for airline glide paths and
2. Only permit adding power over water.


resident 1
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 17, 2015 at 7:57 am
resident 1, Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 17, 2015 at 7:57 am
12 people like this

Hi - good work. I find most offensive the China Airlines flight SQ2, Hong Kong to SF flying over at 2,523. This is a huge plane.

Also the overnight which start at 4:20 AM. These are the United flights in from Hawaii - 3 which each follow a different flight path over the city.

I know they have to come over but they need to get more altitude - there are not a lot of other planes in the air at that time so they are not competing with many other flights.

One problem I notice is that flights that come in from overseas bottom out on the turn over PA but then increase altitude as they get into the north bound queue over the bridges. Once they have to compete with other planes in the northbound path they stabilize their altitude. Also - once they are on the northbound path they are over the bay. If you are in the Kaiser -RWC parking lot on Veteran you cannot hear any noise.


Marie-Jo Fremont
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 17, 2015 at 8:53 am
Marie-Jo Fremont, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 17, 2015 at 8:53 am
5 people like this

Indeed an important first step on the FAA's part. But it may take a while until we see changes and improvements.

In the meantime, affected residents and businesses should continue to speak up about the repeated noise impact. As Rachel Kellerman stated in today's great LA times article (Web Link), “I don’t think of it as complaining, I think of it as testifying,”.

To know what you can do about low and loud flying jets over your neighborhood, download the SkyPosse one-page handout (Web Link). It explains how you can send complaints via your phone or computer.

Sending complaints regularly is one of the most effective ways to put pressure on the FAA because the data are reported. As Stephanie Enos said, "The FAA cannot argue with real facts."

And it’s easy to do.


Menlo Park Willows resident
Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2015 at 11:19 am
Menlo Park Willows resident, Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2015 at 11:19 am
8 people like this

Raising the minimum elevation at the MENLO waypoint to 5'000 will do little. I have been tracking noisy flights for about a month: the average elevation above my house (about a mile from the waypoint) is about 4,500' and the noise is loud enough to disrupt conversation with the windows closed. Also it is the sheer number of flights that is the problem rather than the individual noise level: during peak periods, every 3 or 4 minutes.

Mandating airfoils on Airbus 320 jets would be a helpful step (see SkyPosse website for details)- that would at least reduce the high whine that sets one's teeth on edge. But FAA may not have the jurisdiction to demand that step.


chris
University South
on Nov 17, 2015 at 11:50 am
chris, University South
on Nov 17, 2015 at 11:50 am
Like this comment

SQ2 HKG-SFO would be Singapore Airlines, not China Airlines, which flies to/from Taipei.


Chip
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Nov 17, 2015 at 11:58 am
Chip, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Nov 17, 2015 at 11:58 am
Like this comment

C'mon Sheyner, "vowed"? Spicing up the headline much? Agreed or decided is more accurate.


tt
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:26 pm
tt, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:26 pm
Like this comment

We shall see if FAA "vows" or just doing us a favor


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:36 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:36 pm
14 people like this

Raising the crossing altitide for the MENLO intersection from 4000 ft to 5000 ft would, given the inverse square law for sound transmission, have a significant impact on the ground noise level from any one individual flight.

The FAA study fails to adequately consider how NextGen technology could be used to more evenly distribute the inbound SFO flights over a broader geographical area.


No Big Deal
Nixon School
on Nov 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm
No Big Deal, Nixon School
on Nov 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm
2 people like this

[Portion removed.]

The area was much nosier when Moffat NAS was operating.

The planes are much quieter than 20 years ago.

[Portion removed.]


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2015 at 6:28 pm
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2015 at 6:28 pm
10 people like this


Planes are NOISY. They howl, whine, screech, 100% joy kill if you want to concentrate or have some peace. No peace, no joy.

and think of all the jet fuel burned over here every day.



Boo
Palo Alto High School
on Nov 17, 2015 at 9:03 pm
Boo, Palo Alto High School
on Nov 17, 2015 at 9:03 pm
13 people like this

The frequent loud and low planes have stolen my desire to ever watch the Blue Angels again. I used to be excited to see them.


Eric
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:35 am
Eric, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:35 am
16 people like this

This morning at 6:40 there was a Boeing 747 (4-engine jumbo jet) cargo flying at less than 3500ft across Palo Alto. The noise was so LOUD that it woke up everyone in the house. Thanks to this article and Web Link I know how to file a complaint now. I encourage everyone affected to voice their concerns.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 18, 2015 at 7:28 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2015 at 7:28 pm
7 people like this

I spent most of today at MPFPD's Station 77 located on Chilco Ave in Menlo Park. Four hours were in the classroom and two hours were outside doing training drills. There were about 30 people in attendance.

While outside I noted a stream of SFO inbound planes that were passing directly over the location. Never once was it necessary to stop the training because of airplane noise.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:07 pm
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:07 pm
8 people like this

Peter Carpenter,

"I noted a stream of SFO inbound planes that were passing directly over the location"

Were you leading the training drills or a participant? How did the stream of planes get your attention, were they in a flock?

Not sure what your point is but enjoying the peace and quiet of one's home or trying to sleep with the windows open is different than doing fire station training drills in the middle of the day.





Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:13 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:13 pm
13 people like this

"Were you leading the training drills or a participant? How did the stream of planes get your attention, were they in a flock?"

I was participating.

Given the concerns posted by others I simply took the time to observe the flights which were going over - presumably having being cleared by ATC via the MENLO intersection.

Each flight was properly separated by time and distance from any other flight.

The point is that none of these flights were loud enough to interrupt the training and all of these flights were, at that point, at a lower altitude than they were when they passed over either Palo Alto or MENLO intersection.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm
6 people like this

[Post removed.]


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:46 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:46 pm
5 people like this

[Post removed.]


Paly Grad
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:58 pm
Paly Grad, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:58 pm
9 people like this

CAL4 @ 3,350' over Palo Alto at 7:03 pm
CAL4 @ 2,775' over East Palo Alto at 7:04 pm

How low can you go?


Gleason
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2015 at 9:14 pm
Gleason, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2015 at 9:14 pm
3 people like this

[Post removed.]


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm
1 person likes this

Peter Carpenter,

"The point is that none of these flights were loud enough to interrupt the training and all of these flights were, at that point, at a lower altitude than they were when they passed over either Palo Alto or MENLO intersection."

Thank you for sharing your personal observations and those of the 30 participants in the training drills at the firehouse in Menlo Park.I would be very pleased to know that Menlo Park fire officials are not distracted by aircraft noise.

I can share that I am extremely bothered by aircraft noise. I can only speak for myself, not 30 people. This being said, I probably would not stop a training drill at a fire house to yell plane! stop the training!

One never knows who is bothered by aircraft noise and many are also intimidated to speak up - for example by comments that others have it much worse, or by the suggestion that it's not a problem for others, why should anyone be bothered.


Boo
Palo Alto High School
on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:25 am
Boo, Palo Alto High School
on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:25 am
7 people like this

Seems the planes have been flying lower (thus louder) in this past week. Maybe it's the FAA's strategy to lessen the noise (to where it was prior) then claim they lessened the noise.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:22 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:22 am
12 people like this

"I would be very pleased to know that Menlo Park fire officials are not distracted by aircraft noise. "

The class consisted of local civilians not fire officials.

"One never knows who is bothered by aircraft noise and many are also intimidated to speak up - for example by comments that others have it much worse, or by the suggestion that it's not a problem for others, why should anyone be bothered."

Are you asking for a "safe zone" where only one perspective is allowed?


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:53 am
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:53 am
1 person likes this

Peter Carpenter,

A differing perspective about noise is one thing, you added the perspective of 30 people and made suggestions about Menlo Park vs Palo Alto.

I was pointing to how would you know who is really bothered by noise, and that nobody was interrupted could mean other things. Who expects quiet in a fire station, or would interrupt the training "drills" due to airplanes.

If those same 30 people were having a meal with their family in their back yard, a "stream of SFO bound planes" could mean something else.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 19, 2015 at 9:17 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2015 at 9:17 am
14 people like this

"A differing perspective about noise is one thing, you added the perspective of 30 people and made suggestions about Menlo Park vs Palo Alto. "

That is exactly what is called a different perspective - it was my personal experience, shared by 30 other people and reported as to time and place. That is certainly as valid as is any other poster's experience.


Curmudgeon
Registered user
Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:09 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:09 pm
2 people like this

I bet SJC would be very pleased if we closed PAO and removed its hazard to aeronavigation. A few pilots might have to give up their toys, but far more paying passengers would benefit.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:36 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:36 pm
6 people like this

"I bet SJC would be very pleased if we closed PAO and removed its hazard to aeronavigation."

This is a non problem.

Every plane that enters SJC's Class C airspace must be in contact with ATC and under positive control.

There is very little uncontrolled airspace in the Bay Area - even the area around PAO requires radio contact with the Palo Alto tower during the hours of PAO tower operation.

"The Bay Area airspace is dominated by the 10,000-ft tall SFO Class B. Nestled against the underside of the Class B are two Class C's for Oakland and San Jose, and Class D's for San Carlos, Hayward, Palo Alto, and Moffett. Reid-Hillview's Class D lies 1 mile outside the 30-mile SFO Class C veil. Adding to the complexity are the coastal and Diablo mountain ranges that enclose the central portion of the Bay Area in a narrow V shape."

Web Link

Many private pilots who have learned to fly elsewhere give up flying when they move to the Bay Area because of the complexity of the airspace. It is not uncommon for a VFR flight to have to talk with 4 different ATC controllers when entering or leaving the Bay Area.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2015 at 1:05 pm
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2015 at 1:05 pm
2 people like this

[Post removed.]


All quiet on the Palo Alto front
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 19, 2015 at 1:27 pm
All quiet on the Palo Alto front , Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 19, 2015 at 1:27 pm
6 people like this

Howl, IMHO there is no airplane noise problem in Palo Alto. Yes I hear planes but they do not bother me. The planes I hear do not howl, whine and screech. [Portion removed.]


Marie-Jo Fremont
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm
Marie-Jo Fremont, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm
11 people like this

To "All quiet on the Palo Alto front" --I wish you had a name

The data exist --not only flight data but also noise measurements and there will be more in the future. You can read an excellent noise monitoring analysis that is posted on the SkyPosse website.

Maybe you don't get many airplanes flying at low elevation (below 4000 ft) all day long (including late evening and early morning) over your house.

I do. Sometimes I get 30 jets flying low and loud in one hour. I get the noise before 6 am and way past midnight. These planes do wake me up with all my windows closed. They are so frequent that at times I cannot concentrate on my work. Forget about going outdoors. This is new and did not exist until early this year.

By the way, there is no mystery about SkyPosse. Use the contact link on the website to connect with the organization.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2015 at 2:03 pm
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2015 at 2:03 pm
8 people like this

All quiet,

Right, the post I originally responded to is the idea that planes are quiet. Airplane noise is a non-issue if you don't hear the noise but why would an "organization" be necessary to know what I hear or not?

For my ears - planes howl. Some are more like a roar, others are very whiny.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:13 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:13 pm
6 people like this

"the post I originally responded to is the idea that planes are quiet"

Please reread the post that you originally responded to - it makes no claim that "planes are quiet".

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
19 hours ago
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
I spent most of today at MPFPD's Station 77 located on Chilco Ave in Menlo Park. Four hours were in the classroom and two hours were outside doing training drills. There were about 30 people in attendance.

While outside I noted a stream of SFO inbound planes that were passing directly over the location. Never once was it necessary to stop the training because of airplane noise.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm
1 person likes this

Peter Carpenter,

Please refer to my post *before* the one you use.

2 days ago, I responded to "no big deal" whose comments are partly deleted.

my original post was not to respond to your comments. sorry.

Posted by Howl
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2015 at 6:28 pm


Planes are NOISY. They howl, whine, screech, 100% joy kill if you want to concentrate or have some peace. No peace, no joy.

and think of all the jet fuel burned over here every day.


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:33 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:33 pm
Like this comment

"I bet SJC would be very pleased if we closed PAO and removed its hazard to aeronavigation."

"This is a non problem. Every plane that enters SJC's Class C airspace must be in contact with ATC and under positive control."

Yeah, positive control. That's what they said in these airliner-private plane collisions:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Keep those aeronavigation hazards on the ground. It bothers a few privileged individuals but benefits a big, big majority.


Peter Carpenter
Atherton
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:46 pm
Peter Carpenter , Atherton
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:46 pm
5 people like this

All of the examples cited are from the last century.

The ATC system today is dramatically better than then including the requirement that almost all planes must now have radar transponders.


marc665
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:55 pm
marc665, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:55 pm
7 people like this

I agree with "All quiet", I have no idea why all these people think the noise from the planes is unbearable.

I live in Midtown near Matadero Creek. Yes, sometimes during the summer when we are sitting outside most of the day/night I can tell when a plane is overhead. Yes it makes noise. No it is not unbearable or even disturbing.

I can also hear the trains passing through town, the traffic on 101 late at night, the games being played at Hoover park. This is just urban life. Palo Alto is an urban environment, get used to it. Please don't talk about what it was like back in the '50s or the '70s. It's not the the '50s or the '70s, that is long gone and never coming back.

As I am writing this I can hear a plane passing by at 4:40pm. Not unbearable. Nothing to get upset about.

And what specifically does anyone think that the FAA is going to do? They are not going to close SFO,SJC or OAK. They are not going to have the plane to steep landing maneuvers. They are not going to restrict the amount of planes coming into/out of the airports. There is no uninhabited land to direct the flights over. They are not going to change the runways in use.

The best anyone could hope for is a slight spreading of the flights over a wide flight path. But then the other towns being impacted will complain and say that their population quality of life is being infringed upon. Then it would be one town vs another town. It is Palo Alto more important than Mountain View or Redwood City?

/marc


Few real complaints
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:48 pm
Few real complaints, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:48 pm
5 people like this

[Post removed.]


DifferentStrokesForDifferentFolks
Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm
DifferentStrokesForDifferentFolks, Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm
9 people like this

to marc665
I live perhaps 1/2 mile from you and I am disturbed by many (not all) of the air flights over our neighborhood. We are different people and are affected in different ways.

To some it is the actual *volume* that they hear (too loud).
To others it is the tone or *frequency* of the sound that bothers them (the whine).
To others it is the repetition of flights, seemingly "one after another" that disturbs their day/work/activity (like the drip, drip, drip of water in a downspout after a rain).
To others it is the time of day (I was awakened this morning at 4:49 a.m. - probably a light spot in my sleep cycle - but at a time within 2 hours of my normal wake-up when getting back to sleep was then impossible, at least for me.
And to others, it is not a bother at all.

Regardless of where any of us are on this spectrum, what is (IMHO) true is that NextGen made changes to the flight patterns which has increased how often these events occur and the sound levels associated with them from what they had been for decades prior to NextGen.

As I've said before: "Where's the Environmental Impact Report - because my environment has certainly been impacted!" (this is tongue-in-cheek; I understand that the FAA was specifically exempted from EIR in the NextGen legislation).


Resident
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2015 at 8:39 pm
Resident, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2015 at 8:39 pm
10 people like this

This is what's killing me:

"To others it is the repetition of flights, seemingly 'one after another' that disturbs their day/work/activity (like the drip, drip, drip of water in a downspout after a rain)."


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 22, 2015 at 2:26 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2015 at 2:26 am
Like this comment

It is shortsighted to keep harping on individual noise events.

Now that the FAA is committed to a review of South Bay flight paths and procedures it is time to focus on specific changes that are needed.

For example, the FAA propsal to raise the crossing altitude at MENLO from 4000 ft to 5000 ft will produce very little relief IF even more flights are vectored via the MENLO intersection.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:22 am
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:22 am
6 people like this

Peter Carpenter,

A poster already made an original comment that raising altitude at Menlo would do "very little", which you immediately disagreed saying that it would be "significant." Good to know you have come around, as you seem to eventually come around.

And who would believe that a raising of altitude would be kept? Altitudes at 5000 were promised before, and are now below 4000. I have heard that San Mateo has agreements in the 10,000 feet range, that would be more like it.

Anyway, if it were not for us "harping" about stuff,you would have had us convinced that the 1000 change was "significant."


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:28 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:28 am
7 people like this

Please read my comments more carefully:
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:36 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
Raising the crossing altitide for the MENLO intersection from 4000 ft to 5000 ft would, given the inverse square law for sound transmission, have a significant impact on the ground noise level from any one individual flight.

The FAA study fails to adequately consider how NextGen technology could be used to more evenly distribute the inbound SFO flights over a broader geographical area.

*****
That comment specifically states " have a significant impact on the ground noise level from any one individual flight."

Such an individual flight impact would, as I posted, :
"the FAA propsal to raise the crossing altitude at MENLO from 4000 ft to 5000 ft will produce very little relief IF even more flights are vectored via the MENLO intersection."

****
Details are important.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:49 am
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:49 am
8 people like this

Peter Carpenter,

Your initial response failed to include agreement with the poster that the move would do "very little."

The original poster may not have had "details" but made the point crystal clear, better than you did. And initially, you thought it was ok.

Anyway, nobody should judge what is "short sighted" about people's experiences.

It is not short sighted to mention the "drip, drip, drip" of flights. Whoever is working on this should make sure they know that is a problem.

Drip, drip, drip,

I of course would like to share about the howls, whines, and screeches.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:54 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:54 am
14 people like this

Howling accomplishes nothing.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:36 pm

"The FAA study fails to adequately consider how NextGen technology could be used to more evenly distribute the inbound SFO flights over a broader geographical area."


Please provide and support positive solutions.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2015 at 9:02 am
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2015 at 9:02 am
10 people like this

Peter Carpenter,

I resent you saying that.

I file a complaint about all the intrusive flights. I write and call congress, senators, and have been advised that without complaints, there is no record about the problem.

Have you filed complaints to SFO?

Maybe this is a technical exercise for you, but this is personal problem for me.

You cannot say I accomplish nothing.


Howl
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2015 at 9:35 am
Howl, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2015 at 9:35 am
6 people like this

Peter Carpenter,

Just noticed the lead sentence of the article,

"Responding to a rising volume of complaints about airplane noise, the Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to take a fresh look at flight paths,.."

**Responding to a rising volume of complaints*

Solutions are obvious, spread out, higher, etc. but complaints about what to fix seem to get people to work on them.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 22, 2015 at 9:51 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2015 at 9:51 am
9 people like this

"Solutions are obvious,"

Not really - real solutions require understanding of the ATC system and then designing and proposing specific proposals.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 22, 2015 at 11:30 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2015 at 11:30 am
1 person likes this

This was in my proposal that I posted months ago:

"Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Entry to this approach via MENLO intersection would not be permitted."


resident 1
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm
resident 1, Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm
2 people like this

Can you all please remind us all where the Menlo location is? I mean street and cross street. Last I heard it was at Willow - what is the cross street?

I know the VOR is at the top of the hills and the overseas planes are typically about 7,500 ft at that point as they come down and cross HWY 280. At that point they cross over SLAC. Who thought that up? A US Government site worth billions? Does the FAA have a death wish? Are they hoping that some Chinese Airline - or Korean Airline will crash and burn on top of SLAC? There is no rational thinking here?

SU - you have got yourself into a lot of uproar lately about divestment of coal and gas. Are you trying to help divest SLAC? Can you please get your act together and help out here - no flights over SLAC or SU. Or is this revenge from the US CAL- Bears? Is the Lawrence Livermore Lab taking on SLAC? Do planes fly over CAL and the Lawrence Livermore Labs?

I am actually not being facetious here - we are surrounded by truly crazy people in high places. They need to work hard to create a "distraction" from what ever they are up to. And of late what they are up to is not good.


resident 1
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm
resident 1, Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm
2 people like this

Let me remind you all the former head of "Homeland Security" is the head of the UC system, and Diane Feinstein's husband is on the Board of Regents of the UC System - Richard Blum. And he is not a shrinking violet relative to investments in defense companies.

Is there a competition in government funding for SLAC and LLLs?

Very subtle but it is there. And note that Facebook is at the foot of Willow and HWU 84. A lot of new construction in that area that is starting to push?


resident 1
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 22, 2015 at 10:37 pm
resident 1, Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 22, 2015 at 10:37 pm
Like this comment

My question is where exactly is the MENLO intersection and the MENLO waypoint - It that the same thing?

Is it at Willow and O'Keefe?

If so then the planes that are crossing at that point are not using the PAO as a rotation point? It looks like they are mutually exclusive as to approach patterns.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 22, 2015 at 11:58 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 22, 2015 at 11:58 pm
1 person likes this

"My question is where exactly is the MENLO intersection and the MENLO waypoint - It that the same thing?"

Yes, although an ATC intersection usually involves the intersection of two different airways most people refer to this ATC waypoint as MENLO intersection.

MENLO is a static vertical and virtual pole located above Latitude 37° 27' 49.27" N and Longitude 122° 9' 13.17" Using Google Map you can see the precise location

Its ground termination point is near Willow Road and O'Keefe in Menlo Park.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 23, 2015 at 1:56 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2015 at 1:56 am
1 person likes this

Here is the exact location of the MENLO waypoint:

Web Link


At is closed point the City of Palo Alto is 0.45 miles from MENLO way point.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Nov 23, 2015 at 1:58 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Nov 23, 2015 at 1:58 am
Like this comment

At its closest point the City of Palo Alto is 0.45 miles from MENLO way point.


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