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Surf Air, locals ask FAA to let airline fly over Bay Peninsula as it heads to the San Carlos Airport, the letter says. The letter, dated Dec. 30, but ocal residents, officials and distributed via email on Jan. 3, Surf Air are all trying to says the alternate flight path, convince the Federal Avia- known as the Bayside approach, tion Administration to let the “was developed for use by Surf commuter airline continue to fly Air in an effort to reduce aircraft an alternate route that has allowed noise for approximately 140,000 Surf Air flights to go over the Bay residents living near the GPS instead of Midpeninsula neigh- approach into the San Carlos borhoods 60 percent of the time, Airport.” The letter says Surf Air while the federal agency evaluates used the alternate route for about 60 percent of its flights during a six-month trial of the route. the trial period. San Mateo Surf Air started County officials using the San announced last week that the Surf Air must go back Carlos Airport route over the to using the original in June 2013 now schedBay the comGPS route that takes and ules as many as muter airline 38 flights a day had been using it over residential arriving at or as it headed to neighborhoods and departing from the San Carlos a number of schools San Carlos. Its Airport, when customers pay weather and air in Menlo Park and a monthly fee traffic condiAtherton. for unlimited tions allowed, flights within is no longer an option while the FAA evaluates California and to Las Vegas. The the six-month trial of the route. airline recently started a separate operation in Europe. The trial began in July. Soon after Surf Air started up A letter from San Mateo County Assistant County Manager with only a few flights a day, local Mike Callagy says that starting residents began complaining Thursday, Jan. 5, Surf Air no about the noise from the Pilatus longer had FAA permission to PC-12 turboprop planes used use the alternate route, at least by the airline, which have been until the FAA evaluation of the tested to be louder than jets. Although all involved admit trial is over. Instead Surf Air must go back to they knew that use of the Bayside using the original GPS route that route was a trial, most seemed takes it over residential neighbor- surprised by its abrupt halt. “We’ve known from the beginhoods and a number of schools in Menlo Park, Atherton, North ning that this was a six-month Fair Oaks and other parts of the test,” said Jim Sullivan, Surf Air’s By Barbara Wood Almanac Staff Writer
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senior vice president of operations. “We really didn’t know what was going to happen at the end.” He said Surf Air pilots “are going to be pretty disappointed” to no longer be able to use the Bayside route. “They enjoyed flying it.” Mr. Sullivan said he had been in touch with the FAA and other officials to make sure Surf Air can’t keep using the route during the evaluation. He said he does not know how long the FAA’s evaluation of the trial will take. County officials also said they
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Graphic by Kristin Brown/The Almanac
The green line on this map shows the route over the Bay that Surf Air has been using for the past six months when weather and air traffic conditions allowed. The red line is the GPS approach the airline used at other times and will be its only option while the FAA evaluates the six-month trial of the alternative route.
10QThe AlmanacQAlmanacNews.comQJanuary 11, 2017
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also were not sure of details of the evaluation. 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.” 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. Adam Ullman, a resident of North Fair Oaks who lives directly under Surf Air’s GPS flight path to the San Carlos Airport, said he was “not surprised, but I’m obviously very disappointed” about the ending of the trial. Use of the Bayside route meant “we would still hear the planes but the frequency was reduced — absolutely reduced,” he said. “Instead of it being a constant nuisance, it became a more infrequent one.” However, he admitted, “we’ve always known that this was a sixmonth test period and we could go back to square one. Here we are at square one.” 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. In March, the county’s Board of Supervisors authorized a study of noise issues connected to the San Carlos Airport. Issuing of the final report and recommendations from the study has been delayed several times, and in December Supervisor Horsley said the report should be back before the supervisors in January or February. Mr. Callagy’s letter says the FAA’s analysis will look at “environmental, operational and community impacts and will include an opportunity to provide public comments.” A