FAA at the Civic; Come and share your opinions!

The Select Committee with representatives from the FAA will hold its first public hearing in Santa Cruz County.

Please come and share your opinions with the FAA and the Select Committee.

From the office of Supervisor John Leopold:

For over a year, residents in Santa Cruz County and beyond have been negatively impacted by the change in flight paths over our community. I have worked with our Congressional representatives to amplify the voice of our county in hopes of addressing the significant impacts that these changes have wrought. Through the intervention of Rep. Farr and Eshoo, the FAA has been to our community three times to listen and learn about these impacts. They agreed in November to investigate the suggestions from the Board of Supervisors and Save Our Skies Santa Cruz, along with suggestions made in other affected communities. In addition, the Select Committee on South Bay Arrivals has been formed with four representatives from each of the three counties affected by the changes in flight paths. I serve as Vice-Chair of the Select Committee.

Next week, on May 25th, the Select Committee will hold its first public hearing in Santa Cruz County. The FAA will be there to present their findings as well as hear from local residents about your thoughts on their work.

Additional hearings will be held in San Mateo County on June 15th and Santa Clara County on June 29th.

Please come to the Santa Cruz Civic on May 25th and share your opinions with the FAA and the Select Committee.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel Latest Update

A few words on the latest from the Santa Cruz Sentinel:


*The comparison between the routes in the second picture does not appear to represent all factors of the new route, such as the new holding pattern over Santa Cruz or vertical profile, for example.

Of course many people under the new path report flights have been getting more frequent during all hours and louder. The use of speed-brakes (whooshing sound) is common.

Cmmty Meeting sponsored by Supv. Bruce McPherson re. Sol’ns dev’d by Quiet Skies NorCal

Please save the date:
March 2, 2016
Zayante Fire District Community Room
7700 E. Zayante Road, Felton

Here’s your chance to hear about and give input on the region-wide mitigation plan developed by Quiet Skies NorCal, a coalition of various quiet skies community groups from Northern California, including Save Our Skies Santa Cruz. Various elected officials will attend, including Santa Cruz County Supervisor Bruce McPherson and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian. Also in attendance will be representatives from the offices of Congressional Representatives Farr and Eshoo, and Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold. The aim is to present a Quiet Skies NorCal mitigation plan to the FAA after this meeting.

If you cannot attend, please feel free to email any views you have about the jet noise and solutions to it to bruce.mcpherson@santacruzcounty.us or call 831-454-2200.

Legal Meeting Highlights w/ former FAA atty Steven Taber

The meeting on Nov. 29 with former FAA attorney Steven M. Taber went very well! Here are the highlights:

(1) The FAA views their customers as the airports, the airlines, and, to a lesser extent, the flying public. They generally view those objecting to jet noise as NIMBYs. Legal action greatly increases the probability of the FAA taking substantive permanent action to mitigate aircraft noise. But dialog with the FAA is also important. The combination of the two tends to be the most effective.
(2) We should seek ways to put pressure on the airlines to request the FAA to let them use the still extant Big Sur Two (BSR) route.
(3) Between continuing nuisance, permanent nuisance, inverse condemnation, and trespass, suits for continuing nuisance are the least challenging to prove with respect to jet noise. Only claims and suits for permanent nuisance or inverse condemnation can potentially provide compensation for diminution of property value for jet noise; once someone sues for compensation for diminution of property value, they can no longer sue for continuing nuisance. On the other hand, doing continuing nuisance suits does not preclude a later suit for diminution of property value. When a court finds jet noise to be a nuisance in a particular case, they almost always find it to be a continuing nuisance rather than a permanent nuisance. Inverse condemnation (for the taking or damaging of property and the resultant reduction of value) would be very difficult to prove given our distance from the airports. [Below I focus on continuing nuisance claims.]
(4) Waves of small claims suits for continuing nuisance against the 10 or so relevant airlines and the relevant airport(s) would likely cause these defendants to put pressure on the FAA. This was done effectively by 183 residents near SFO in the early 1980’s, and Steve doesn’t know why it isn’t done more often. To fend off another wave of those suits that had begun, SFO, the airlines, the FAA, and aircraft manufacturers made substantial noise mitigation measures.
(5) Suits for continuing nuisance can be done repeatedly by the same person, each time covering a different time period. Those in the audience seemed enthusiastic about this idea. Since the Statue of Limitations for continuing nuisance is 6 months, the most efficient way would be to go in 6 month cycles. Each claim would be for the 6 months of nuisance immediately preceding the date the lawsuit was filed. The 6-month statute of limitations is renewed every day you wake up and the planes are still noisy.
(6) If you sue for a reasonable dollar amount (rather than an unreasonably high amount) the judge is more likely to rule in your favor.
(7) On slides Steve gave an example of how to fill out the small claims court forms and gave examples of evidence to use in court. Also demand letters to the airlines would need to be sent by plaintiffs; besides asking for compensation they could specifically ask the airlines to ask the FAA to allow them to fly the still-extant Big Sur Two flight path.
(8) Within one single small claims case, one can sue the 10 or so airlines that are flying overhead along with the airport. All must show up in court for the hearing.
(9) To support the cases, one can point out some of the things the defendants could do to help but have not done. E.g. the airport could implement a voluntary curfew, use different runways, offer to pay those impacted for installation of triple pane windows, or use their influence with the FAA during the Environmental Assessment to insist that they keep Big Sur as the primary SFO arrival path from the south. And the airlines could more often fly quiet idle-descents at slower speeds and without using speed brakes
(10) At a small claims hearing, if one’s case gets selected to be at the end of the list, one may have to wait, along with the defendants, for a half a day at the courthouse for the hearing to happen.
(11) The FAA cannot be sued in small claims court. A suit for nuisance against the FAA under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) would be far more costly than small claims suits; none has been tried for jet noise. The Statute of Limitations is 2 years.
(12) Given the FAA’s inaction so far in response to the evidence of Class B excursions, Steve recommends a letter with evidence be sent to the Dept. of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General rather than the NTSB. The NTSB’s purpose is to investigate transportation accidents.

Nov 29, 7-9pm, SV. Fmr FAA attorney: How to do jet noise comp. suits

FORMER FAA ATTORNEY STEVEN M. TABER on HOW TO PREPARE, FILE, AND TRY A JET NOISE COMPENSATION SUIT IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT. Defendants would be relevant airlines and airport owners, all of whom are influential with the FAA. A Q&A period will follow. Mr. Taber’s presentation will describe steps, tips, and guidelines for preparing paperwork, filing suit, gathering evidence, and trying your case in Small Claims Court in Santa Cruz County. Most of the presentation will also be relevant to any jet noise compensation suits tried in Superior Court or the US Court for the Northern District of California. The talk will provide general information that is not meant as individual legal advice. More about Mr. Taber is at http://taberlaw.com/about-3/

DATE AND TIME: Sunday, November 29, 7-9pm.

PLACE: St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 5271 Scotts Valley Dr, Scotts Valley, CA 95066. From Hwy 17, take the Granite Creek Rd. exit. Get onto Scotts Valley Dr. and go about 0.4 mile toward downtown Scotts Valley. Location is on the right and has a large sign with the name of the church out front.

SUGGESTED DONATION to cover Mr. Taber’s presentation and preparation time: $30-$50 per person, cash or check. But if you can’t afford a suggested donation, please don’t let that prevent you from coming. All are welcome, donation or not. Please make checks out to “Taber Law Group PC” with the name of your most problematic flight path in the memo line, e.g. Serfr1 or Brixx.


News from Washington D.C. (permalink via Senator McCain):

Maybe our senators will finally offer their support? For the first time, a representative of the Honorable Dianne Feinstein was present during the most recent “local” meeting with the FAA. Please encourage them to support the amendment to improve community engagement in flight path changes. We deserve proper representation.

Barbara Boxer
70 Washington Street, Suite 203
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 286-8537
(202) 224-0454 fax

Dianne Feinstein
Washington, DC Office:
331 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3841
Fax: (202) 228-3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501
San Francisco Office:
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: (415) 393-0707
Fax: (415) 393-0710


11/16/15 FAA NorCal Initiative

The “FAA Initiative to Address Noise Concerns of Santa Cruz/Santa Clara/San Mateo/San Francisco Counties” is at http://eshoo.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/11.16.15-FAA-Initiative-to-Address-Noise-Concerns.pdf . The “initiative” is to do analysis, from which some changes might be proposed and implemented. E.g. they say they will analyze the issue of average of many commercial jets each day flying below Class B airspace on Serfr1. These violations of federal law (Code of Federal Regulations 91.131) greatly increase the risk of a collision between a commercial jet and a small plane without a transponder operating under visual flight rules. It is disappointing that in the Initiative the FAA makes no commitment to actually fix the Class B airspace violations, much less a date by when they would do so.

The Initiative says that the date of completion for the various analyses is TBD (to be determined). (The 11/16/15 document release date is not mentioned in the document. There are neither signatures to the document, nor an FAA logo, nor an indication of what office the document was issued from. The url for the document is on anna eshoo’s website, not the FAA’s website. Not a single name of an FAA employee appears anywhere in the document.) The implementation date is TBD for any changes that might be proposed.

Section 1.c.i. says, “On the SERFR arrival, analyze moving EPICK waypoint south to approximately 36 54 52.8N and 121 56 32.7 W, add restriction to speed of 280 knots and altitude of 15,000 feet. (AJV-WOSG).” (The current Epick waypoint is about one statute mile southeast of Opal Cliffs in Capitola.) I checked the possible new Epick waypoint under analysis ( 36 54 52.8N, 121 56 32.7W ) vs. the current Epick waypoint ( 36 57 2.96N, 121 57 9.62W ). That is along the current Serfr1 path and would not be a lateral move of Serfr1; it is not a move to or toward the prior path Big Sur2. Section 1.c.i is just about the possibility of: moving the Epick waypoint further back into the Monterey Bay about 2 1/4 nautical miles, keeping the same 280 knots indicated airspeed, and raising the altitude from a gaping 10-15K’ window to a hard 15K’. (I could not find in the Initiative a definition of AJV or WOSG.)

One ray of hope is Section 1.f.iv, which says, “Study the possibility of new SFO RNP approaches that will serve Runways 28 L/R that follow the Big Sur ground track, curved out over the Bay crossing MENLO at 5000-6000 feet. (AJV-WOSG).” It is unclear whether they will be studying using the Big Sur groundtrack as a primary SFO arrival route over just Santa Clara county or Santa Cruz county too. We need clarification from the FAA on this.

Another ray of hope is Section 3.d.iii., which says, “Review utilizing the current Big Sur for late night cargo arrivals. (AJT, AJV-WOSG).”

Another ray of hope is Section 1.e.i., which says, “On the SERFR arrival, study current use of the holding pattern at EPICK and the possibility of moving the holding pattern to WWAVS. (AJV-WOSG)” (WWAVS is in the Monterey Bay about 4 nautical miles northwest of Marina.)

Another ray of hope is Section 1.c.iii. says, “Evaluate adding a new waypoint roughly over the Highway 17 summit area, between EPICK and EDDYY, with at least a 10,000 feet and 250 knot restriction.” If that gets implemented, that would help. I wish they gave a lat/long for the possible new waypoint, but it does say it would be along the Epick to Eddyy track, so no lateral move! We need that lat/long from the FAA.

Another ray of hope is Section 1.a.i., which says, “Analyze raising the floor and ceiling of existing SERFR and BRIXX arrivals. (AJV-WOSG) a) Evaluate raising the altitude at MENLO waypoint to 5,000 feet or establish a new waypoint to allow for crossing the MENLO area closer to 5,000 feet.” However, I see nothing in the doc that clearly suggests they will analyze placing BRIXX above Serfr1.

Section 1.c.iii. says, “Analyze current RNAV arrival and departure procedures to determine necessity and feasibility of redesigning Class B airspace. (AJI, AJV- WOSG)” That suggests they might lower Class B airspace rather than raising the commercial jets illegally dropping below the current Class B airspace…not good. At the end of Sep. 2015, I sampled six days, and out of all the planes on Serfr1 I found an average of 25 jets illegally flying more than 200′ below Class B airspace on Serfr1 (with a sample standard deviation for the number of planes of 8.1).

Section 1.f.i. says, “Evaluate proposed PBN arrival procedures from local community groups for feasibility, fly-ability and safety concerns.” I don’t know what specific PBN arrival procedures they are referring to; we need clarification from the FAA on this.

On p. 2 is a key quote relevant to the timeline: “As such, although not specifically detailed within this noise initiative, the FAA’s procedures and standards for evaluating noise impacts associated with all potential modifications to currently published procedures—consistent with FAA Order 1050.1F (effective July 16, 2015)—will be followed and undertaken before implementing any airspace changes. Finally, this document does not constitute either a final decision of the FAA or a re-opening of the FAA’s August 6, 2014 final decision for the Northern California (NorCal) Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (OAPM).” So, they will have to go through an environmental review, perhaps a full environmental assessment with public comment periods, before implementing any changes under analysis. The Study Team for the NorCal Metroplex began their work in 2011 or 2012, and Serfr1 was not implemented until 3/5/15, so it could be a long slog for any new changes. For legal reasons the FAA is framing any potential changes to currently published procedures as a new decision rather than a revision and re-opening of the 7/31/14 NorCal Metroplex decision. Any such upcoming changes could not be undone easily.

Any changes in ATC or Traffic Management instructions probably would not be published, but if they are made and are helpful, I think it would be good to ask for them to be described to us in writing and to seek a commitment that they will be permanent.

The FAA responds, or does it?

After hearing all of our concerns on the new FAA NEXTGEN SERFR1 route, and at the request of Representatives Farr, Eshoo and Speier, the FAA details an initiative to address noise concerns of Santa Cruz/Santa Clara/San Mateo/San Francisco Counties.

The following document was released by the office of The Honorable Anna Eshoo:
We cached a copy here.

Source: http://eshoo.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/11.16.15-FAA-Initiative-to-Address-Noise-Concerns.pdf

A quick analysis of the document reveals no references to commitment or timeline. At first glance, the document appears to be the Executive Summary of a more detailed document. In this case, the Executive Summary also appears to omit insignia(s) or signature(s).

If these assumptions are correct, maybe it is possible to obtain an unabridged version of this document from the office of Representative Eshoo, since this version was released from that source?

NextGen may be placed in the hands of a non-profit managed by a board of aviation users

See: http://www.aviationtoday.com/the-checklist/Lawmakers-Delay-Action-on-FAA-Reauthorization-Bill_85512.html#.Ve4kbSgQHy0

Since the proposed corporation would be “managed by a board of aviation system users, funded by user fees,” this seems like a giant leap backward, which I didn’t realize was possible. Congress and the US president just might pass this. You could contact your US Rep, US senator, or the President about this. Contact info is at:
http://www.sossantacruz.org/complain.html and
https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact .
One ray of hope though: Europe uses this model and has substantially less lenient aircraft noise standards than the US. I don’t know how that happened.

Here’s an excerpt from the article linked above:
“After examining various models, I believe we need to establish a federally chartered, fully independent, not-for-profit corporation to operate and modernize our ATC services,” he [Bill Shuster, chairman of the committee on transportation and infrastructure] added.

“The proposed corporation would be managed by a board of aviation system users, funded by user fees, and would prioritize the maintenance of the day to day functioning of the ATC system while prioritizing NextGen implementation, according to an outline of the bill released by Shuster.

“Two sectors of aviation, commercial airlines and business aviation, have expressed conflicting views of the bill. Airlines for America (A4A), with the exception of member carrier Delta Airlines, has expressed strong support for creating a separate entity to manage the ATC system and the continued deployment of NextGen. However, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has launched a “Call to Action” asking its members to oppose ATC privatization. NBAA CEO Ed Bolen has referenced the reality that, in other countries that feature ANSPs separated from their civil aviation regulatory agencies, business aviation operational communities have problems with access to airspace.”

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