A conference call with representatives of the FAA – Federal Aviation Administration – outlined the increasing air traffic over Escalon and gave city officials some information about why it’s there and what can be done about it.
For councilmember Ed Alves, it also crystallized one point – the city’s battle to reduce the number of low-flying aircraft is going to be with the Stockton Airport, not the FAA.
The Wednesday afternoon conference call was hosted by FAA representative Glen Martin and included several other FAA officials, city leaders and Mike Anderson of Congressman Jeff Denham’s office.
Alves has been a vocal critic of the increase in low-flying aircraft, which seems to have coincided with the expansion of Amazon business in the region, and reportedly is due to a new landing approach being taken by aircraft.
But the councilman said there has to be a way to change that approach, so the low-flying jets aren’t directly over the city. That, he said, just incases the chances of potential problems and could lower property values in the community.
The Amazon carriers are classified as commercial aircraft and it is that category that has seen the increase over the last several months. Allegiant Air, which provides passenger service out of Stockton, is also under the commercial designation.
Martin said the Amazon planes begin flying the new route last Feb. 1 and city officials began noticing a marked increase in April. FedEx also joined the route in late summer/early fall and that’s when the city began the process of seeing what, if anything, can be done to drop those numbers back to prior levels.
FAA officials noted that the pay level for air traffic controllers at Stockton had to be upgraded due to the large increase in traffic at the site.
“I am not against the Stockton airport, I am just concerned about our town,” Alves said.
Martin urged City Manager Tammy Alcantor and the council to “further your relationship” with the airport leaders at Stockton so there can be a sharing of concerns and information at the local level.
“We notice it now when we never noticed it before,” Alves said of the traffic. “The issue here is public safety.”
Martin said he felt confident that a reasonable solution could be reached and agreed with Alves that the city will have to work closely with Stockton, as opposed to the FAA.
The FAA information, however, was necessary to help start devising a game plan.
“We do appreciate all these efforts,” Alcantor told Martin.
The presentation provided via the teleconference will be placed on a future council agenda as well, with other council members and the public able to get updated on the issue at that time, said Alcantor.