As part of its ongoing efforts to ease noise impacts on residents, the County of San Mateo is considering restricting the number of flights into and out of San Carlos Airport for some aircraft and imposing an evening curfew.
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will likely consider noise abatement solutions, including the potential restrictions, in July.
The proposed operational changes at the airport are the latest step to address continued community concerns about the number of flights into the airport and noise levels, especially during hours when more residents are at home. The proposal calls for fewer flights for some aircraft, based on their certified noise level. If approved, flights for some aircraft will also be prohibited between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. everyday.
Prior to the Board’s consideration, in the next 60 days the County will hold focus groups, one town hall meeting and solicit comments from key stakeholders such as the San Carlos pilots and business associations, neighboring cities and the public. The goal is to gather a better sense of how such restrictions might impact the community and airport users.
Over the past year, the County of San Mateo has been analyzing the negative impacts to surrounding communities from aircraft operations at San Carlos Airport. The analysis has included evaluating noise management programs and policies at similar general aviation airports, reviewing changes to flight paths over the last five years, a community survey and meetings and implementing better technology to track noise complaints.
Last year, the County in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its local congressional delegation launched a six-month pilot study of the Bayside Visual Approach, an alternate arrival flight path into the airport. During that time, overflights by one charter operator were reduced by approximately 60 percent for those areas under the existing GPS arrival flight path. As a result, approximately 140,000 residents regionally benefitted.
The pilot program ended in January 2017 and the FAA is now expediting a study of the outcome. The County has requested that the FAA adopt the Bayside Visual Approach at San Carlos Airport for all flight arrivals which could result in an even more dramatic shift in overflights and noise levels.
But with no clear answer on when the FAA will make its decision, County leaders are eager to provide affected residents with more immediate relief.
“We’re sensitive to residents’ concerns about noise and also don’t want to hinder our pilots more than necessary. We value both as vital contributors to our community and are working to strike the right balance,” said Assistant County Manager Mike Callagy.
More information about the proposed ordinance, including a list of affected aircraft, FAQs and a copy of the letter sent to stakeholders is available at publicworks.smcgov.org. Comments on the proposed ordinance should be sent to SQLFlightRestrictions@smcgov.org