Legal Question in Aviation Law in California

Privacy rights in airspace above back yard

Planes form the local airport continually fly over our house, even though they are supposed to take off and land in a prescribed area not above our homes. These planes fly fairly low, and putting aside the fact that safety does not seem to be of concern to these pilots, where does the issue of privacy fit it. I cannot sit in my fenced back yard in my jacuzzi or even lay out in the sun without feeling that my privacy is violated. Is there some privacy right concerning how high an aircraft must be above residences?

Asked on 5/28/09, 10:56 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Re: Privacy rights in airspace above back yard

Airports and flight patterns are heavily regulated, and safe for all involved; statistically safer than your commute to work. Unless you can 'prove' actual and substantial violation of those regulations, you have no valid claim as to safety or noise. I am willing to bet that the airport was there long before your house; therefore, you 'accepted' the situation upon purchase, and it was obvious upon inspection. FYI: my bias should be disclosed: I am a pilot, and am aware of such civilian complaints. May I suggest that you visit the airport, take a demo ride around the area, and see for yourself the situation in the air. You'll find that you can not be seen in your backyard from the air at pattern altitude which is generally at least 1000 feet above ground immediately around the airport and 1500 - 2000 feet away from it.

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Answered on 5/29/09, 4:32 pm

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