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Noise Abatement

Noise Abatement Goals

The Goals for the Santa Barbara Airport Noise Abatement Program are as follows:

  • Achieve airport operations that are compatible with the surrounding communities.
  • Provide the region with facilities for access to the National Air Transportation System using the newest, quietest aircraft available.
  • Maintain a continuing dialogue between the Airport, Airport users, and the surrounding community through the Noise Abatement Program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Noise 

What are the rules regarding how low an aircraft can fly over a residential area?
Aircraft altitude is established by Federal law. Title 14, Coder of Federal Regulations Section 91.119 which governs flight states:  "Except when necessary for takeoff of landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitude: Over any congested area of a city, town or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft."
It is important to be aware of two aspects of this regulation. First, most aircraft operating in the vicinity of the Santa Barbara Airport are in the process of landing or taking off, thus this regulation does not apply. Second, helicopters are specifically exempted from this Federal regulation.

Why doesn't the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) have a curfew or rules similar to those at Burbank or Orange County Airports?
In 1990 Congress passed legislation that made it extremely difficult for airports to initiate curfews or other noise and access restrictions. This Federal legislation "grand fathered" all existing noise/access restrictions at Burbank and Orange County and other airports that had such restrictions. These airports already had noise restrictions that were allowed to remain in place. SBA has a voluntary Noise Abatement Program which emphasizes noise abatement flight tracts and pilot education. 

My house is not supposed to be under the flight path, so why do I get overflights?
SBA's voluntary flights tracks are used by pilots under ideal conditions only. Factors such as weather and the presence of other aircraft will often dictate a flight path that is different from the noise abatement flight tracks.

Why do I always get aircraft flying over my house during bad weather?
Noise abatement flight tracks are used only during periods of good weather. The voluntary flight tracks are used by pilots under ideal conditions only. During periods of reduced visibility (rain, fog, etc) aircraft must use an Instrument Landing System. The Airport's main runway runs east and west and there are instrument approaches from both the east and the west. During these periods, residential areas east and west of the Airport will be overflown.

It seems that many times small jets make more noise than the airline flights. Why?
In 1990 Congress passed legislation that required commercial airlines to phase out the use of older, noisier aircraft (known as Stage II Aircraft). That same legislation exempted aircraft weighing less than 75,000 pounds. Thus, while the airlines have removed the older and noisier aircraft from service, the smaller noisier private aircraft and business jets have been allowed to stay in service.

My concern really isn't noise, it's safety. Who should I contact?
Specific safety complaints should be filed with the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office at 818.904.6291. Noise complaints can be filed by calling the Noise Abatement Hotline at 805-967-1900.

Noise Abatement history at SBA

The SBA Noise Abatement Committee was established in 1978 under the direction of then Airport Director, Patrick R. Murphy. The committee's first meeting was held in January 1979 and included representatives from the Airport Department, FAA, Goleta Chamber, County of Santa Barbara, UCSB, the airlines, Air Transport Association, Santa Barbara Pilots' Association and the fixed base operators.

Noise Program Highlights

1988 - United Airlines introduces Stage III "quiet aircraft" to Santa Barbara.
1989 - FAA approves Santa Barbara Airport Noise Exposure Maps & the Noise Compatibility Program.
1992 - Remote noise monitoring system is installed.
1998 - New state-of-the-art computerized noise monitoring system, the first of its kind in the US is installed.
2001 - Airport begins update to its FAR Part 150 Noise Compatibility Program.


Airport Operations Supervisor Kellie Reed can answer your questions regarding the Noise Abatement Program and the Part 150 Study: 805-692-6011

Noise Abatement Hotline Number for registering a complaint: 805-967-1900 (24 hours)

A copy of the AIRPORT NOISE AND LAND USE COMPATIBILITY PLAN UPDATE can be viewed at the following locations:

  1. Santa Barbara Airport Administration Office 601 Firestone Rd, Santa Barbara CA. 93117;
  2. Santa Barbara Main Library, 40 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA. 93101;
  3. Goleta Branch Library 500 N. Fairview Avenue, Goleta CA. 93117.

What good does it do to call-in a noise complaint when the noise abatement program is voluntary?

Pilot education is a major part of our noise abatement program and the complaints assist the Airport in this effort. The complaints are compiled into a monthly report which allows the Airport to see trends which assist staff in enhancing the education program.  The program includes mass mailings and individual contact with pilots.


Last Updated: Dec 31, 2018
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