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.

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.


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


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: and .
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.”

The Santa Cruz FAA Meeting at Loma Prieta

The LATEST update on this meeting:
On 7/31/2015, the Save Our Skies Santa Cruz executive committee released their summary of the meeting. Review the PDF here.

UPDATE 10p pacific:
What happened?

Most people who attended the Loma Prieta meeting, agreed the FAA listened.

It was flatly stated that the reason the meeting happened at all, was because of Congressman Sam Farr.
That pressure is unwanted and the FAA wants it to stop. They are willing to continue dialog via e-mail, as long as it is limited and viewed as productive.

The FAA committed to fast-tracking any changes (6 months, instead of 2 years) and will review why things aren’t working. Our neighbors were able to document several issues regarding the performance of the route: Violations of airspeed limits and issues related to adjacent SFO Class-B airspace were discussed.

The FAA also stated (and we know this) that the closer you get to the airport, the more routes become interdependent and in conflict with each other. Therefore, the harder things become to change. The FAA also stated that any “Federal Action” on the Northern California Metroplex is closed. Thus, significant changes will be new Federal Actions.

1. The SERFR1 arrival procedure is not working as it should and will be reviewed for possible modification. Fanning out planes on descent was stated to be a possible mitigation to the well documented intensity.

2. SERFR1 alignment on ANJEE may be possible but problematic. When first presented to the public by the FAA it was clearly stated the route should transition thru ANJEE and that the design was incomplete.

3. Altitudes for planes crossing BRIX could be raised if constraints were be added to SERFR1.

4. The FAA clearly resisted PORTE departure changes. Glen Martin clearly stated that he cannot design an efficient transportation system with lots of restrictions on departures. We believe this is touted as one of the ways that NextGen saves fuel by getting departures pointed at their destinations sooner. On a side-note, this is a big sticking point in Phoenix.

It was pointed out that if the PORTE fan out was moved slightly further out, the crossing altitudes could be increased. The cost of that should be considered against that of property owners on the ground.

During the meeting, it was made clear reduced fuel cost is being traded for larger noise impact areas and inescapably reduced property values and (your) quality of life.

We believe there was some acknowledgment that this balance/trade-off could be considered in route designs, but because there is no policy guidance on this issue – it is not a consideration for the FAA when noise levels are below the official noise impact thresholds that are only relevant in the immediate area of the airport (65DNL).

This is something for Congresswoman Eshoo and Congressman Farr to consider – how to codify such lack of balance.

Click below to review additional media coverage:



UPDATE 7:39p pacific
According to the Sentinel:

Meanwhile, at Loma Prieta Elementary School on Summit Road, representatives from the FAA met with leaders from the neighborhood group Save Our Skies Santa Cruz and local elected officials and their aides in a private meeting. Neither the public nor the press were allowed to attend the meeting. From the FAA, regional manager Glen Martin and his assistant Steve May, vice president of Mission Control Elizabeth Ray and FAA spokesman Ian Gregor attended the meeting.

“We found the FAA much more responsive than we thought they might be,” said Patrick Meyer, co-founder of Save Our Skies. “They listened to our concerns and talked about a timeline in terms of getting back to us on a number of things.”

Regarding the speed breaks, the FAA said that’s something it could start working on now. As for raising the altitude of descending planes, the FAA said it would get back to Save Our Skies in about six months.

The FAA also expressed interest in a future public meeting.

“The meeting was productive. It’s a good first step,” said Alec Arago, district director for Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel. “I think the congressman feels this is the dialogue that should have preceded the decision to move the route.”

Find the link to the article here:


Update 3:00p pacific
The meeting is underway and we anticipate today’s first meeting with the FAA to center on:

1. Explaining our perceived impact in Santa Cruz, and
2. Exploring process issues which have been identified
3. And, of course, the next steps.

One of our most competent neighbors is attending the discussion. We feel confident the most important issues will be brought forward clearly.

If the FAA has learned anything, they could leave us with something practical before they manage a better, sustainable implementation!

We are not an acoustical open sewer for the FAA and Administrator Huerta, as one of our neighbors put it.

More to come.

FAA coming to Santa Cruz on Friday to hear concerns of Save Our Skies

Samantha Clark over at the Santa Cruz Sentinel has posted an article discussing the FAA visit and meeting this Friday, also raising the excellent question as to why the meeting is not open to the press or the public. We will do our best to keep you posted on the results.

The article also includes information on the jet-noise survey by Sam Farr’s office.

You can read more here:


Noise is related to speed

We all know that aircraft noise is a function of speed, and that a measure of noise must account for speed and the associated thrust. It sounds simple, but this kind of calculation can be complex. The function has to take into account many variables, such as engine thrust, number of engines, drag on elements of the aircraft, gravity, descent angle, and among them: speed. There are over 100 equations used by the FAA models to calculate noise impacts. These equations are documented in a manual that’s nearly 200 pages long. Many of them used speed. And you know what? Their measure of speed is not accurate. 160knotsAccording to the FAA’s own documentation in the Integrated Noise Model – Technical Manual, speed is not measured or modeled accurately. The speed of the airplanes is modeled at 160 knots even though the planes routinely fly over Santa Cruz at below 10,000 feet and faster than 250 knots. In some cases, the planes fly nearly double the modeled speed. But, according to the FAA: “Reference Speed. The noise-exposure reference speed in INM is 160 knots. Thus, LAE and LEPN
values in the NPD database are referenced to 160 knots.” (INM-TM, p.11). How do you find no impact? How do you model plane noise in such a way that it doesn’t have an impact? Well, one way is to just say the planes are flying slower than they actually are, because speed and noise are related. And in the INM, speed is 160 knots, independent of how fast and loud the planes may be in the real world.

You can read more at: FAA INM TM. inmAnd we’ll keep reading this document and explicating it, to help us all understand how the FAA defined a model, paid a contractor to implement that model in software, and then uses that model to justify an impact without oversight and no checks on their power.