Responding to complaints from residents of Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto, San Mateo County and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted a six-month experiment of rerouting specific incoming flights to SQL over Sunnyvale. They made this decision without the knowledge of and input from our elected City and County officials.
This rerouting, known as the Bayside Visual Approach, began on July 5 and ended in early January 2017. Although the trial ended in January, Surf Air has continued to use the BVA. Moreover, contrary to the original plan, they use it as an all-weather route, not just on sunny days. After analyzing the results and meeting with local elected officials, the FAA will decide whether to make this rerouting permanent. They will base their decision on the number of Sunnyvale households filing complaints. The meeting was expected to occur in February 2017.
After waiting seven months for the post-trial meeting, Sunnyvale residents were given a one-week notice by the FAA that the meeting would be held on September 27—in San Jose, not Sunnyvale, even though Mayor Hendricks offered a Sunnyvale venue for the meeting. At the meeting, the FAA presented reasons why the BVA, still under consideration, was chosen as a potential alternate route for Surf Air traffic into SQL. The FAA also announced that it would begin a 30-day review period and accept public comments on the route through October 2017.
You can learn more about this meeting here. You can read the many letters that local, county, and Congressional representatives wrote to the FAA about the BVA before and after the September 27 meeting here (Click on the Background tab and scroll down to Correspondence.)
Image from WebTrak of two Surf Air flights using the Bayside Approach over Sunnyvale. On WebTrak, you can identify Surf Air flights by their “URF” designation.
Most of the rerouted flights are Surf Air flights, and about 60% of Surf Air flights destined for SQL fly over Sunnyvale. Surf Air is a private, membership-only airline whose business of small nine-seat aircraft is growing rapidly and whose flights into SQL continue to increase. Expect our skies to become even noisier!
You can learn more about this issue from:
- City of Sunnyvale Airplane Noise Site
- City Councilmember Jim Griffith’s Blog
- Letter from Congresswoman Eshoo
- Mayor Hendricks’ letter on airline route impacts
If you are bothered by Surf Air flights and want to prevent the Bayside Approach from becoming permanent, you must complain. Complaining to airport management, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and our Congressman is the most effective way to mitigate air noise over our neighborhoods. The FAA’s decisions about flight paths and noise abatement will be based on the number of complaints made by Sunnyvale residents. Complaining is the best way to bring about change!
Make a Complaint
- SQL Noise Hotline (toll free): 844-266-6266 (You must report the date and time of the event.)
- Noise Abatement complaint form
Although SQL claims to report its air noise complaints to the FAA, you should also email your complaint to 9-AWA-NoiseOmbudsman@faa.gov. You will need to provide your name and address, the date and time of the noise disturbance, the type of aircraft (jet, small plane), a description of the noise issue, and the airport or official you have contacted about this event.
If you are not sure which airport the flight is using, check a flight-tracking web site (click on the tracking tab above for more information) or call the SFO Noise Office at 650-821-5100 (M-F, 8-5). The SFO office can determine the origin and destination of all air traffic in the area.
Voice Your Opinion
Call or write to your County Supervisor and Congressman and ask them to find a solution to the increasing air noise. Tell them how it is affecting your quality of life.