Important note: the following recommendation was approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 27, 2017. View the official report.

To: Honorable Board of Supervisors 

From: James C. Porter, Director of Public Works 

Subject: Measure K: San Carlos Airport Noise Management Program 



Measure K: Adopt a resolution regarding San Carlos Airport Noise Management Program by 



A) An agile Airport Communications Specialist position for a term of up to three years in the 

amount of $150,000 per year (salary and benefits), for a total fiscal obligation not-to-exceed 

$450,000; and 

B) The Director of Public Works, or his designee, to execute an amendment to the agreement 

with Vector Airport Systems for an aircraft monitoring system, extending the term to June 30, 

2020, and increasing the amount by $213,820 for a total fiscal obligation not-to-exceed 

$313,695; and 

1. The Director of Public Works, or his designee, to execute contract amendments which 

modify the County’s maximum fiscal obligation by no more than $25,000 in aggregate, 

and modify the contract term, services, or make other administrative changes to the 

Vector Airport System’s agreement so long as the modified term or services provided 

are within the current or revised fiscal provisions; and 

C) The Director of Public Works, or his designee, to execute an agreement with Hughes 

Aerospace for the term of July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2020, in the amount of $226,800, to review 

and recommend flight paths into and out of the San Carlos Airport, develop instrument flight 

procedures for departure flights, and evaluate instrument approaches that support noise 

abatement procedures; and 

1. Waive the formal Request for Proposal process and award contract to Hughes 

Aerospace, an authorized Third Party Air Navigation Services Provider for the Federal 

Aviation Administration; and 

2. Accept or execute, on behalf of the County, any and all notices, options, consents, 

approvals, terminations, and documents in connection with this agreement, including 

agreement amendments and payment up to a maximum aggregate amount, not-toexceed 

$22,680 or 10 percent of the agreement amount. 



In March 2016, your Board initiated the San Carlos Airport Aircraft Disturbance Study to look at 

options to provide meaningful relief for affected communities. This Study included consultants 

evaluating best practices for noise management at similar general aviation airports, the testing of a 

new arrival flight path into the San Carlos Airport, a community survey, and a public outreach 


During the Study, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized Surf Air, a scheduled charter 

operator, to test a new arrival flight path for a period of six-months, which ended on January 5, 2017. 

This new arrival flight path, referred to as the “Bayside Visual Approach”, allowed aircraft, under good 

weather conditions, to cross over Moffett Field and fly over the San Francisco Bay, away from 

residential neighborhoods residing along the Peninsula from Mountain View to Redwood City, 

reducing the number of overflights regionally for over 140,000 residents. 



The County’s consultant, Aviation Management Consulting Group (AMCG), looked at ten similarly 

situated general aviation airports to determine best practices for addressing community concerns 

regarding aircraft noise (attached). One of the recommendations was to develop a comprehensive 

Noise Management Program that included a dedicated noise management staff position to address 

noise/operational issues, make personal contact with pilots and community members, provide 

outreach and education to the public and pilots, develop a noise abatement program website, and to 

monitor and track noise complaints. Airport staff recommends the funding of this position for a term 

of up to three years using Measure K funds. Total compensation (salary and benefits) is estimated 

at $150,000 per year. 


Vector Airport Systems 

Another component to the Noise Management Program is the implementation of Vector Airport 

Systems, an aircraft departure monitoring system that has the ability to access flight track data in real 

-time, automates the integration of flight track data into the noise complaint system, and monitors 

flight departures. Much of the flight track data is already available publically, but this system is more 

accurate, timely, comprehensive, and provides additional efficiencies including automated integration 

with the Airport’s noise complaint system. The Vector system can be used by Airport staff for public 

and pilot education, outreach, and community engagement. This system will also provide additional 

security for the airport after business hours. The implementation of this system will have two phases; 

the first phase is the real-time availability of flight track data and the integration of that data into the 

noise complaint system. The second phase is the integration of the camera feed into the system 

which will allow staff to explore the option of offering financial incentives to pilots for voluntarily flying 

within certain time zones (discount to be paid back to Airport with non-Enterprise Funds), charging 

landing fees for charter operators, and providing another resource to further validate flight track data. 

The second phase, the camera feed integration, will not be implemented until a Privacy Policy has 

been established (draft Airports Privacy Policy attached). The amendment to the agreement with

Vector Airport Systems is estimated at $213,820 and includes the configuration, licensing, training, 

and maintenance of the aircraft monitoring system for a period of three years and will be funded with 

Measure K funds. 


Hughes Aerospace 

The County participated in the FAA’s study of the Bayside Visual Approach into the San Carlos 

Airport for a period of six-months. During the term of that study, the new arrival flight path was used 

by Surf Air approximately 60 percent of the time on average. While this temporary arrival flight path 

reduced the number of overflights for more than 140,000 residents regionally, it impacted the cities of 

Sunnyvale and Cupertino. Airport staff recommends contracting with Hughes Aerospace to look at 

alternative arrival and departure flight paths into the San Carlos Airport that avoids residential areas 

as much as possible within a constrained airspace. Impacted cities will be included in the 

development of any new flight procedures. Staff also recommends creating instrument flight paths, 

where possible, that can be used in inclement weather which will increase the percentage of flights 

able to use an alternative flight path. Contracting with Hughes Aerospace can help expedite the 

process for approval of proposed flights paths by the FAA, which can take up to 18-months. Hughes 

Aerospace is one of only two organizations that are certified by the FAA for Public Third Party 

Instrument Procedure design, validation, and maintenance, and is uniquely qualified and has 

experience providing this type of service to general aviation airports; and the only other provider is 

currently already engaged with the FAA on NextGen for larger airlines. The proposed contract with 

Hughes Aerospace is estimated at $226,800 and will be funded with Airport Enterprise Funds. 


Public Outreach 

Since March of 2016, the Airport has conducted five Town Hall meetings in the communities of 

Atherton, Sunnyvale, North Fair Oaks, Redwood City and San Carlos, two focus groups, several 

meetings with residents, Airport users, and government officials, and surveyed more than 21,200 

residents living under the Global Positioning System (GPS) approach flight path. The key takeaways 

from these meetings are: that there is a perception that aircraft disturbances have increased 

significantly since the inception of a scheduled charter operator at the San Carlos Airport; that 

increased air traffic has a significantly impact on residents’ life and wellbeing; that aircraft create 

safety concerns, especially over schools; and that the Pilatus aircraft used by the scheduled charter 

operator emits a noise frequency that is particularly bothersome to some residents. Residents have 

also stated that there was some relief from the Bayside Visual Approach and that overflights have 

increased since the Bayside Visual Approach testing period has ended. Survey results from the 

Airport community indicated that 95 percent of the respondents were willing to adhere to an 

expanded “good neighbor” curfew. Of those that said yes, 35 percent stated they were interested in 

a pilot incentive program for additional voluntary curfew hours. Fifty-five percent (55%) of 

respondents also stated they would be willing to fly the Bayside Visual Approach if it was approved 

by the FAA. Additional information regarding public comments and survey results can be found on 

the Airport’s website at: 


Airport Disturbance Study Next Steps 

Airport staff plans to work with Airport users, the FAA, and local community officials to develop and 

implement new arrival and departure instrument flight paths for the San Carlos Airport. The Airport 

will also implement a Noise Management Program and hire a new staff position to manage that 

program. The Airport will further evaluate the options of; 1) providing discounts to pilots flying within 

certain time zones; and 2) implementing landing fees for Charter 135 operators. Long-term, the 

Airport will continue to work with the FAA on the Part 150 Noise Study to look at current and

projected future noise conditions and compatible land use around the Airport. Working with the FAA 

on this Study makes them an “official partner” in addressing noise issues and in approving the 

Airport’s Noise Contours and Aviation Forecasts. 


In March 2017, the County issued a proposal for a curfew ordinance at the San Carlos Airport. As 

part of the evaluation of that proposal, the County is working with the Airport community, Encompass 

(Surf Air), and residents on alternative proposals for noise abatement procedures and flight paths 

that minimize overflights over residential neighborhoods. While these discussions are taking place 

and continue to be fruitful, the proposed curfew ordinance will be put on hold. 


County Counsel has reviewed and approved this item as to form. The Information Services 

Department and the Contract Compliance Committee has reviewed and approved the contract with 

Vector Airport Systems. 

The proposed Noise Management Program contributes to the Shared Vision 2025 outcome of a 

Livable Community by allowing residents, business owners, and Airport users to help shape airport 

noise reduction measures in a way that best meets the needs of the community. 



The amendment to the Vector Airport System agreement extends the term to June 30, 2020 and 

increases cost by $213,820 for a maximum total fiscal obligation of $313,695. The estimated total 

compensation for an agile Airport Communications Specialist is $150,000 per year for a term of up to 

three years, for a total fiscal obligation not-to-exceed $450,000. Additional funding required for the 

amendment to the Vector Airport System agreement and the agile Airport position is estimated at 

$663,820 and is proposed to be funded from Measure K Sales and Use Tax Revenue. The term of 

the agreement with Hughes Aerospace is from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 for a total fiscal 

obligation not-to-exceed $226,800. Funding for the Hughes Aerospace agreement will be funded 

with Airport Enterprise Funds. Budgetary appropriations are included in the FY 2017-18 Recommend 

Budget and FY 2018-19 Tentatively Recommended Budget. 



Best Practices for Addressing Community Impacts 

Draft SMC Airports Operations and Security Systems Privacy Policy 

Read the attachments.