Santa Cruz — Not that the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t want to work with local legislators and their constituents to reduce airplane noise in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. In the example of a SERFR, or “Big Sur” flight path, that is, it was impossible to satisfy the requested design criteria, an FAA spokesman said this week.
Via a recent press release from its Congressional offices, Reps. Anna Eshu, Jimmy Panetta and Jackie Spear expressed their disappointment at the FAA’s decision not to adopt the South Bay Arrivals Select Committee to create a new NextGen process for arrivals from the South. San Francisco International Airport.
The leaders wrote, “The Select Committee worked tirelessly for nine months … and held thirteen public meetings in our three congressional districts, with more than 3,500 constituents participating in the meetings to develop the SERFR/Big Sur consensus recommendations. Were.”
An FAA spokesperson told the Sentinel that some of the design elements requested by the committee were not compatible with FAA safety norms. These recommendations include flying fewer people, crossing the Monterey Bay shoreline above 12,500 feet MSL (sea level, or flight altitude above sea level), and a flight route located at the airfield above Menlo Waypoint (or Highway 101 in Menlo Park). convergence). Maintain idle power above 5,000 feet MSL and up to the HEMAN waypoint (another route converges in Redwood City, east of Bair Island).
In the case of the Monterey Bay shoreline recommendation, the FAA’s safety criteria indicate that the aircraft must be able to cross between 10,000 and 15,000 feet above sea level.
In the case of crossing the Menlo Waypoint at or above 5,000 feet above mean sea level and maintaining idle power up to the Heyman Waypoint, the FAA told the Sentinel that it was unable to ensure that the aircraft would be at idle power until the Heyman Waypoint or that each aircraft shall be above 5,000 feet above sea level at or near the Menlo location. Additionally, current FAA safety standards prevent the process from continuing to HEMAN.
“We take community recommendations and the intent of the request into account nationwide, but we must design FAA safety criteria,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Eshoo, Panetta and Spear also criticized the FAA for how long the agency took to return a report with an analysis addressing the selection committee’s 104 recommendations. An FAA spokesperson said that after receiving the recommendations at the end of 2016, the agency issued an interim report in 2017 on its efforts to evaluate the recommendations. Updates continued to be released every few months.
In 2018, as leaders of Santa Cruz County Voting to attend the Regional Round Table Conference To address the frustration caused by SERFR, the FAA commissioned a working group to design a new route as requested by the selection committee.
“Given the importance of the SERFR to communities, we have worked hard to mature the SERFR design that best meets the recommendations of the selection committee. That process took significant time, and was exacerbated by external factors. , which included a five-week lapse in federal government funding, which created a months-long backlog for us when we return to work,” he said.
Then, the FAA had to go through the California State Office of Historic Preservation to ensure that overlays that met six out of nine criteria would not have any adverse effects on historic properties. In November 2020, the Office of Historic Preservation notified the FAA that there would be no adverse effects.
The FAA planned to inform all involved parties on the status of the design in 2020. Recordings of the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Counties airport/community roundtable meeting from October 28, 2020 shows that the member’s office of Representative ISHU requested a few days before the meeting that the Roundtable on Route Design due to the ongoing CZU Lightning Fire should not be abbreviated.
The staff member said in an email that many members of the community were unable to participate because they were still without basic necessities like water or electricity.
A representative of Ishu’s team was unable to comment about the delay prior to publication.
history of conflict
Complaints from residents of the area began when, in an effort to update Northern California flight paths from a ground-based overlay route system to a satellite-based overlay route system called NextGen, the flight path near Big Sur was reconstructed in March 2015. it was done. run The FAA states on its website, was to modernize America’s transportation system to make flight safer, more efficient and more predictable.
In Santa Cruz County, this meant that aircraft now fly over Capitola, Soquel and Happy Valley, rather than over Santa Cruz’s westside and the ridge between the San Lorenzo Valley and Highway 17.
As a result of the decision to move the route by approximately 3 miles, more than 3 million noise complaints were filed due to a change in the descent process – requiring brakes to remain in San Francisco Class B airspace. An FAA spokesperson said the security vulnerability has since been fixed and the new route is now completely covered in airspace.
In June 2019, FAA Representatives Attend Fifth Round Table Meeting and informed the public that community engagement around the idea of moving the route back to the original Big Sur overlay could take one to two years.
Since then, an FAA spokesperson said, the agency has sought to work with roundtables that include feedback from residents and elected officials — many of whom have written letter on topic for The Sentinel print edition.
“We will continue to work with the Community Roundtable if they wish to submit new consensus recommendations,” the spokesperson wrote. “If FAA safety standards and new technologies are developed, we may be able to revisit this issue in the future.”
The MLAs had also promised to put the issue on hold.
“The participation of our constituents brought the FAA to the table for negotiations on airplane noise reduction, and we remain committed to supporting their continued efforts,” the lawmakers said in a statement.