With Noise Lab, you have the ability to obtain reports on noise events and flight activity, view historic and near-real-time flight tracks, and better understand the complex and sometimes confusing world of aviation noise.
Where does the data on this site come from?
The City’s NOMS (Noise and Operations Management System) provider Casper collects data from multiple sources to ensure accuracy and to plan for contingencies. The primary source used for most flight tracking is a data feed provided by the FAA known as System Wide Information Management or SWIM. Casper collects data from both a primary and backup FAA SWIM feed center, in the case of an outage. To supplement that data, Casper pulls flight plan information from FlightAware, and further aircraft type specifications from a database known as FlightGlobal. Beginning in December 2022, Casper also integrated data from a network of physical transponders known as ADS-B Exchange. This helps to pick up flight tracks from aircraft that have historically been able to hide their location from most other public feeds. Because these data feeds are all working to supplement each other on the server-side, the end result is a blend of what all of them collected, meaning that the data points in Noise Lab and the flight tracks in Flight Tracker look as though they have come from one single source.
How do I navigate this site?
Will filing a noise complaint change how the airport operates?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the sole authority to determine where aircraft fly and how the airspace in the Bay Area is operated. The FAA controls the runways and associated airspace to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the skies around Sunnyvale. Noise complaints are not directly considered when Air Traffic Control (ATC) makes decisions about how to manage the airspace in Northern California. However, individual airports, various roundtable groups, and city, state, and federal representatives continuously engage with the FAA and work to ensure that noise concerns are considered when the FAA initiates a process to modify or introduce new flight procedures in the Bay Area.
What causes planes to take off in the direction of my home?
For safety reasons aircraft always land and take off into the wind. A headwind decreases the amount of runway needed for an airplane to take off and land by increasing the amount of airflow over the wing, which increases lift, allowing the plane to land or take off at a slower airspeed. As a general rule, when the wind speed at the airport is measured to be three knots or higher, the prevailing direction of the wind dictates which runways are used for landing and takeoff.
How does weather impact aircraft noise?
Just about everything an aircraft does, including the noise it makes, is affected by the weather. Aircraft climb more slowly in warm weather, making operations louder on the ground. On cloudy days, the noise from aircraft rebounds down to the earth’s surface from the bottom of the clouds, making it louder. On windy days, aircraft noise carries further at ground level.