Airplane Noise Documents

This page contains a repository of documents and previous updates related to the topic of Airplane Noise, San Francisco International Airport, and the Federal Aviation Administration. 


City Documents

Key Documents

Original FAA Northern California Feasibility Study: The feasibility study was conducted by the FAA in response to citizens complaints and pressure from Congressional Representatives Eshoo, Farr and Speier.

Final Report of the Select Committee on South Bay Arrivals(PDF, 2MB) - The Select Committee was formed by the congressional representatives to respond to the FAA study and ensure representation from each congressional district. Further background, Committee members and their recommendations are contained in the report.

SFO Community Airport/Community Roundtable Report(PDF, 5MB) - The Roundtable report was submitted to the FAA within the same time frame of the Select Committee report. The Roundtable submitted their report in response to the FAA's feasibility study.

Background Documents and Timeline 


June 2017

May 2017

March 15, 2017

  •  Mayor Scharff, Vice Mayor Kniss, along with Councilmembers Wolbach and Fine met with FAA officials during the National League of Cities Conference.


November 2016

November 3, 2016

October 27, 2016

October 13, 2016

October 10, 2016

September 29, 2016

September 1, 2016

September 1, 2016

August 18, 2016

August 4, 2016

July 25, 2016

July 22, 2016

July 20, 2016

July 15, 2016

July 7, 2016

June 29, 2016

June 21, 2016

June 15, 2016

June 8, 2016

  • Community Meeting held at Cubberley Community Center where staffed and consultants reviewed changes to flight paths and impact to noise from those changes. 

May 26, 2016

  •  SFO Community Roundtable Technical Meeting. For further information please visit their 

May 25, 2016

May 18, 2016

May 14, 2016

  •  Quiet Skies Norcal Summit in Los Altos(PDF, 68KB) where presentations by local resident noise groups occurred. Agenda was structured to react to FAA Feasibility Study which was no release in advance of meeting. Agenda reverted back to general update and discussion about noise groups proposed solutions or guiding principles.

May 11, 2016

May 6, 2016

April 27, 2016

April 18, 2016

April 12, 2016

April 6, 2016

April 4, 2016

April 4, 2016

March 30, 2016

March 15, 2016

March 7, 2016

March 4, 2016

March 2, 2016

February 8, 2016

  • Staff Report ID # 6607(PDF, 5MB) - Approval of a Contract With Freytag & Associates in the Amount of $237,500 for Airplane Noise Assessment & Mitigation; and Approval of a Budget Amendment in the General Fund for Fiscal Year 2016, Offset by a Reduction of $237,500 From the General Fund Budget Stabilization Reserve

February 3, 2016

February 3, 2016

February 2, 2016

January 25, 2016 


December 9, 2015

November 16, 2015

November 6, 2015

October 9, 2015

  • FAA Technical Exchange Meeting(PDF, 36KB) with FAA Operations Support Group and Representatives from Bay Area Advocacy Groups with Congressional Districts 17 and 18 including Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

September 3, 2015

August 24, 2015

August 21, 2015

June 29, 2015

June 15, 2015

April 15, 2015

April 10, 2015

February 10, 2015


September 12, 2014

May 29, 2014

May 2, 2014

April 29, 2014

  • Staff Report ID #4725(PDF, 2MB) - Discussion and Direction to City Manager Regarding City of Palo Alto Response to the FAA Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) Regarding the Northern California Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (NorCal OAPM) 

Historical Timeline of City Activity(PDF, 121KB)




Previous Updates


September 28, 2020

As a result of City of Palo Alto requests for ongoing airplane noise monitoring, San Francisco International Airport recently selected a temporary noise monitor location close to Eleanor Pardee Park. The location was selected and recommended by SFO and in coordination with Menlo Park, which is near the confluence of the three SFO arrival flight paths that are over Palo Alto. The noise monitor will be placed at least four times over the next year and SFO will use the data to evaluate if a permanent noise monitor is needed.

March 11, 2020

The City of Palo Alto commented on proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in accordance with the comment period that closed on March 10, 2020. For fifty years, NEPA has ensured that the public has the ability to comment on and, when appropriate, legally challenge the environmental impacts of federal projects. In addition to implications for climate change and endangered species, this might include the potential impacts of noise and/or emissions from federally approved aircraft operations. The City Council has repeatedly identified climate change and sustainability as key priorities and the Mayor signed this letter to the Council on Environmental Quality on behalf of the City of Palo Alto. 

February 11, 2020

The City of Palo Alto supports a package of federal legislative bills to strengthen public input and regulatory requirements related to airplane noise and environmental impacts that was recently introduced and cosponsored by members of our Congressional delegation. The package includes:

  • H.R. 5015, the Responsive Employees Support Productive Educated Congressional Talk Act (RESPECT Act), which would require FAA staff to respond to Members of Congress regarding flight procedures affecting their district within 90 days; 
  • H.R. 5106, the Restore Everyone’s Sleep Tonight Act (REST Act), which would allow airports to self-impose curfews anytime between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.; 
  • H.R. 5109, the Fairness in Airspace Includes Residents Act (FAIR Act), which would amend the FAA’s prioritization of airspace, putting noise and health impacts to residents second only to safety; 
  • H.R. 5110, the All Participating in Process Reaching Informed Solutions for Everyone Act (APPRISE Act), which ensures that community representatives will be allowed to participate in the FAA’s procedure design process; and
  • H.R. 5111, the Notified Officials to Inform Fully Impel Educated Decisions Act (NOTIFIED Act), which would require the FAA to notify local governments about new or modified flight paths. 

We are grateful to our Representative, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, and to her colleague, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, for their leadership on this legislation.


October 22, 2019

The City sent thank you letters to Senator Feinstein and Congresswoman Eshoo for the extremely favorable language that was recently included in the Committee Report that accompanies the FY 2020 Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill(PDF, 2MB). The report language references many of the airplane noise and environmental impact issues the City of Palo Alto has been working on: improved noise measurements, accounting for the impact of noise on public health, and consideration of public comment when it comes to changes to flight procedures. It also directs the FAA to report back to the Committee detailing efforts made to address concerns with noise such as altering flight paths as a result of testing and community input.

The inclusion of this language reflects the effectiveness of the Quiet Skies Caucus in Congress. Our representative, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, is a founding member of the Quiet Skies Caucus and joined her colleagues in the Caucus for a meeting last week with Stephen Dickerson, the new FAA Administrator, to underscore the importance of airplane noise as a priority for the FAA.

July 19, 2019

City staff coordinated with the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) staff for SFO to install four temporary noise monitors in the City of Palo Alto from October 30, 2018 through January 4, 2019. SFO contracted with BridgeNet International to provide the monitoring service and an associated analytical report. The Palo Alto Aircraft Noise Measurements report(PDF, 4MB) was updated on July 19, 2019 to include additional Lmax and SEL measurement results.

The raw data associated with the temporary monitoring can be found on the City’s open data portal, under “SFO/Palo Alto Noise Study”. The files are numbered 1-14. 

July 10, 2019

In response to the City’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request related to the PIRAT route, the FAA provided more than 100 electronic documents. Many are in PDF or XLS formats that may be viewed with common software; others may require less common methods for access.

June 12, 2019

June 10, 2019 Agenda Item #1: Closed Session - Meeting Video


Subject: Noise and Other Impacts Arising From Management of Aircraft in the Northern California Airspace, Including the STAR PIRAT TWO Procedure Authority: Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(4) (One Potential Case, as Plaintiff)

After receiving Public Comment on Agenda Item #1, the City Council adjourned to Closed Session. Upon completion of the Closed Session, the Mayor provided a statement.

May 1, 2019

The City has received a FAA email notice(PDF, 109KB), which appears to have been issued on April 25, 2019 and indicates the publication of the STAR PIRAT (RNAV) TWO SAN FRANCISCO CA KSFO. This communication may be an order of the Secretary of Transportation as described in 49 United States Code section 46110. A person seeking judicial review of such an order must file a petition with the appropriate court not later than 60 days after the order is issued. 

Further information from the FAA can be found on the FAA website.


October 2, 2018

SFO New Landing System Workshop

As part of Palo Alto’s commitment to issues that may impact airplane noise, the City hosted a public workshop where San Francisco International Airport (SFO) staff presented their new landing system, Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS), that will soon become operational at SFO. The workshop took place in Palo Alto City Council Chambers on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 from 6-8 p.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) describes GBAS as “a system that provides differential corrections and integrity monitoring of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). GBAS provides navigation and precision approach service in the vicinity of the host airport (approximately a 23 nautical mile radius), broadcasting its differential correction message via a very high frequency (VHF) radio data link from a ground-based transmitter. GBAS yields extremely high accuracy, availability, and the integrity necessary for Category I, and eventually Category II, and III precision approaches. GBAS demonstrated accuracy is less than one meter in both the horizontal and vertical axis.” To find out more about GBAS you can visit the FAA webpage at: