SFO tests system to reduce flight noise in nearby neighborhoods

SFO only the third airport in the country to have an enhanced navigation system.

Lyanne Melendez Image
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
SFO tests system to reduce flight noise in nearby neighborhoods
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San Francisco International Airport is testing a new enhanced navigation system to reduce flight noise in nearby neighborhoods.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Folks on the Peninsula can expect some minor noise relief as San Francisco International Airport begins to implement an enhanced navigation system. For years, people have complained about the increased noise because of the change in flight procedures which began in 2015.

Still, when buying a house near a flight path, the simple rule is to expect the roaring sound of airplanes, right?

"Again, people move to the area knowing the airport is there and they complain about the noise. I think it's their own problem to solve," insisted Marty Reitinger, a Burlingame resident of more than 40 years.

Since 1983, SFO has helped more than 15,000 residents directly affected by the noise by installing windows and doors at their homes.

RELATED: Residents near flight path petitioning against change at SFO

Julie Mooney remembers.

"The windows were replaced in my children's school and a lot of the homes that were close to the airport that complained because it was bad," she explained.

You can "hear" how after awhile it's background nuisance which in some cases, became worse after 2015.

That's when the FAA implemented a system called NextGen, a satellite-based GPS meant to optimize the flight patterns in the Bay Area.

MORE: New 'partial quiet zone' brings relief to San Jose residents after years of blaring train horns

"Really, what NextGen did, it took what used to be an eight-lane highway in the sky and they condensed it down to one lane. They're really experiencing a greater concentration of aircraft than they did 10 years ago," said SFO spokesperson, Doug Yakel.

Now, SFO is taking the exciting GPS system and making the navigation information more accurate. This device called "G-BAS" is positioned right on the tarmac and talks to nearby GPS satellites, making for a more precise landing.

"Where that benefits noise is, it could allow us to set up procedures that allow airplanes to fly higher over nearby communities before they come in to land or in the future fly further off shore before coming in to land, added Yakel.

This system is already used in Europe and in Australia. SFO is only one of three airport in the country to have it. The expectation is that it eventually become a standard system in the U.S.

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