Number of noise complaints around Chicago O’Hare airport rise to over 2.1 million up to end of July 2015

The number of complaints about aircraft noise from O’Hare Airport topped 2 million during the first 7 months of this year — 8 times the number filed in all of 2014. The total number of complaints so far this year hit a record 2,150,258, according to a report the city provided to the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. Though 35% of the complaints in July came from 10 addresses, the total number of addresses from which complaints came was 44,502, compared with 2,705 in July 2014.  Noise complaints have soared since October 2013 when a 4th east-west parallel runway [O’Hare has 8 runways] opened and the FAA changed O’Hare flight patterns. The majority of flights take off and land westbound and eastbound. A 5th east-west runway is due to open this October. Then a 6th east-west runway in planned. Air traffic activity has been temporarily altered this summer due to the runway construction. Some of the runways are in the “fly-quiet” noise abatement program, on which pilots are asked to follow recommended procedures to reduce noise between 10 pm and 7 am, but it is up to the pilot to decide whether to follow the guidelines. Though it is in a “fly quiet” area, Schiller Park is among the communities where the noise has been worse. Its mayor said: “It’s just distressing. …Our people cannot take it any more. It’s just insane.”


Chicago O'Hare airport map

Map of the airport


Chicago O’Hare Airport has 8 runways; an east-west runway on the south end of the airfield is set to open in a few weeks and a diagonal runway across the airport was just closed.  With this +1 and -1 the airport stays at 8 runways. There are plans to open more runways, and close another over the next 5 years as part of a major update.
You can see the runways in this document from the City of Chicago:


O’Hare noise complaints top 2 million for year

O'Hare jet noise Schiller Park

A plane flies over homes along South Avenue in Schiller Park on July 30, 2015. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

By Jon Hilkevitch (Chicago Tribune)

The number of people filing complaints about O’Hare jet noise has exploded. Complaints about jet noise from O’Hare International Airport topped 2 million during the first seven months of this year — eight times the number filed in all of 2014, the Chicago Department of Aviation said on Friday.

The total so far this year hit a record 2,150,258, according to a report the city provided to the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. In 2014, a total of 268,211 complaints were received by the city online and on a phone hotline. City officials noted that 35 percent of the noise complaints in July came from 10 addresses, but the number of people filing complaints has exploded. In July, complaints came from 44,502 addresses, compared with 2,705 addresses in July 2014.

The 382,999 noise complaints received in July were lower than the monthly number of complaints that Chicago-area residents filed in the previous three months, according to the report.

Noise complaints have soared since October 2013 when, coinciding with the opening of a fourth east-west parallel runway, the Federal Aviation Administration changed O’Hare flight patterns. The majority of flights take off and land westbound and eastbound.

A fifth east-west runway is set to open Oct. 15 on the far south edge of the airfield near Bensenville.

Air traffic activity has been temporarily altered this summer because of airfield construction, Aaron Frame, an assistant commissioner for the environment at the city Aviation Department, told the commission.

For example, diagonal runway 22 Left, which is aligned northeast to southwest on the south airfield, handled 20 percent of nighttime departures in July, up from 17 percent in June, the noise report said. The runway is not a “fly-quiet” noise abatement runway. The city’s voluntary fly-quiet program designates specific runways. Pilots are asked to follow recommended procedures to reduce noise between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., but it is up to the pilot, who factors in such variables as weather, wind direction, the amount of fuel on board and the weight of the plane in deciding whether to follow the guidelines.

Schiller Park is among the communities where jet noise has gotten worse since the air traffic changes, according to data from ground-based noise monitors.

Runway 10 Left-28 Right, which lines up with Lawrence Avenue and Schiller Park, was used for 36 percent of daytime departures in July and 25 percent of nighttime departures, the city report said.

It is a fly-quiet runway, but Schiller Park Mayor Barbara Piltaver pointed out that her town’s residents suffer from the highest noise levels, averaging 73.2 decibels in July, among 33 monitoring sites located both close to the airport and spread out more than 20 miles away.

“It’s just distressing,” Piltaver, a noise commission member, told the commission. “Our people cannot take it anymore. It’s just insane.”

If and when the proposed sixth and final east-west runway is built, Chicago and the FAA project that noise levels in Schiller Park will decline to a daily average of about 68 decibels.

O'Hare International Airport (USGS).png

Satellite image of O’Hare airport and its runways


Chicago O'Hare Intl Chicago, IL (KORD): AIRPORT DIAGRAM (APD)

Some of the comments below the article:

It is a tough argument….you don’t have to live next door to O’Hare to have patio time ruined by a plane every 90 seconds. When O’Hare was built it really was in the boonies next to a little blue-collar town named Bensenville. But density has surrounded O’Hare and it is now too entrenched in its location so everyone else will have to do the moving or learn to live with it.

Look at Midway — 100% solid density right up to the surrounding four streets.
I bought a home very near the railroad tracks. they built a second track. lots more noise. oil tanker traffic has increased greatly. I BOUGHT A HOME VERY NEAR THE RAILROAD TRACKS.
get over it!


And the great news is that the City of Chicago is paying over $8 BILLION for this project and neither American Airlines or United Airlines are paying a penny. This whole O’Hare re-do, expansion, etc…. has been an epic flop. Flight times are WORSE. Thanks Mayor Chucky and Tiny Dancer

What part of the memo, “World’s Busiest Airport”, did all these whiners miss when they decided to move near O’Hare?

and after many along the lines of the one above: I love the 6th grade spouting here. Towns like Bensenville did not have noise issues until the city of Chicago expanded the airport (bensenville never approved the expansion). in this economy, just stating “move if you don’t like it” or ” geez I’m smart I will not move near an airport” are juvenile at best. Moving a family from one home to another is difficult – after the fact. The issue here is the city running amok. And if you don’t think some crooked municipality will mess with your livelihood in the future you better start thinking again.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Local group for citizens affected by the airport – FAiR  – Fair Allocation in Runways

– is the 5th busiest airport in the world (after Atlanta, Beijing, London Heathrow and Tokyo Haneda) with 66,883,271 passengers passing through the airport in 2013.

– O’Hare Airport serves an approximate average of 2,409 aircraft operations per day.

– The airport is connected with more than 60 foreign destinations.

– There are 8 runways in the airport with lengths varying from 2,286m to 3,962m

– There are 4 Terminals with a total of 9 concourses and 182 gates





Chicago O’Hare diagonal runway closed after noise complaints

Chicago O’Hare diagonal runway at center of noise complaints is closed for safety reasons

CHICAGO (AP) — A runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport that has been at the center of a fight over jet noise is closed.

The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights reports ( ) that Runway 14-Left/32-Right was stripped of its identification numbers on Thursday.

State lawmakers and resident groups near O’Hare opposed the diagonal runway’s closure because the construction of a parallel system of six runways is causing some neighborhoods to suffer from jet noise.

Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans has said the closed runway and a second diagonal runway slated for closure are unsafe because they intersect others and reduce airport efficiency.

There are four diagonal runways at O’Hare, and Evans indicates it’s likely a third will be closed.

Information from: Daily Herald,




FAiR citizens’ movement in Chicago wins the right to take part in talks on flight paths

O’Hare airport in Chicago has 8 runways. The local campaign group, FAiR (Fair Allocation in Runways) has been campaigning for some time for all the diagonal runways to be used, in order to distribute the noise more fairly over surrounding areas. Now FAiR has won the right to have a seat at the table in talks about the noise problem with Illinois State and Chicago City officials and the FAA. A new Joint House Resolution also acknowledges the validity of city and suburban residents’ complaints about the drastic increase in planes, noise and pollution since the October 2013 changes in flight patterns and runway usage at the airport – due to NextGen (the US equivalent of PBN and concentrated flight paths that are becoming a serious problem in the UK). In addition, the resolution calls for the city to ask the FAA to delay any action regarding the diagonal runways due to be decommissioned until all hearings and meetings are completed. They also want the FAA to hold meetings about the aircraft noise problem in the areas newly impacted by the October 2013 changes. FAiR say the only three previous hearings on the O’Hare Modernization Plan held in 2005 were intentionally conducted outside the noise contour area and were minimally announced to the public.



Illinois State Senate passes bills designed to reduce O’Hare jet noise

In late 2013 the flight paths at Chicago O’Hare airport were changed, and since then thousands of residents have been exposed to far more aircraft noise. The authorities are trying to find ways to reduce their noise exposure.  The Illinois Senate has now unanimously approved legislation to mitigate jet noise by increasing the cap on the number of runways to 10 from 8, and prohibiting the city of Chicago from closing and demolishing any of the airport’s 4 diagonal runways. The aim is to distribute the noise more evenly. The two bills are aimed at expanding O’Hare flight paths are going next to the Illinois House of Representatives for consideration.  If one of the diagonal runways is closed, its flights will be distributed to the other runways, causing more noise for some people. Keeping 10 runways operational at O’Hare would increase maintenance costs. And while all 10 runways would never be used simultaneously, the more complex airfield layout could create safety risks involving more planes taxiing across runways on their way to the gate or other runways. Noise complaints filed online and to a city-operated hot line totalled 39,500 in January, setting a new monthly record.  In 2014, for the whole year, noise complaints totalled 268,211, also an all-time high.




Chicago voters get chance to be heard in public ballot on O’Hare airport noise problem

Chicago O’Hare airport has a new 4th runway that opened in October 2013 as well another new 5th runway that is due to open in late 2015. Others are planned. Since the start of 2014 there has been a distinct change in the flight paths, and huge opposition to the change. The number of complaints to the airport have risen sharply, month after month. However (and how often this has been heard from UK airports too) the authorities claim the numbers are false, as some people complain multiple times. This masks the fact that some don’t complain at all, being unsure how to, and being unconvinced that the airport will take any notice whatsoever. There is now a ballot of residents in 7 affected suburbs of Chicago, but all such referendums in Illinois are only “advisory.”  The questions being asked are on whether the FAA should create and enforce mandatory “fly-quiet” hours around O’Hare. The restrictions would replace the existing voluntary guidelines that ask airlines and pilots to try to reduce noise impacts after 10 pm. Another asks if aircraft noise should be reduced after 7pm,  and people are also asked about more noise insulation being available.  Airport had about 66.9 million passengers in 2013.  Chicago O’Hare on Wikipedia.




Chicago O’Hare airport new runway & flightpaths creating huge opposition by those now over-flown

Chicago O’Hare airport currently has many runways but not all can be used simultaneously. The airport has been building more, reducing the lengths of others, to get three parallel runways can be used together. There has been a lot of controversy about the plans over many years, with compulsory purchase of land, from residents who did not want to move.  There is now huge protest against the noise. A group representing city and suburban home-owners, the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition (FAiR), is asking the Chicago Aviation Commissioner to resign or for the Mayor to fire her.  FAiR say there is  “mounting frustration over the lack of response from the Mayor on possible remedies concerning “the ceaseless airplane noise” since air-traffic patterns were changed last autumn.  The Aviation Commissioner has refused to consider altering the use of runways at night to spread out jet noise instead of concentrating it over one or two air corridors. FAiR says she has made up her mind that there will be no change at O’Hare no matter how many citizens demand change, no matter what solutions are proposed and no matter how devastating the impact of her decisions on families, children and seniors, and even entire neighbourhoods.



Information about the Chicago O’Hare runways from the airport at


Runways – information from Wikipedia:

Runway layout at ORD

On October 17, 2013 O’Hare opened Runway 10C-28C. The opening of this eighth runway marked the completion of the Phase II expansion project. O’Hare landings have been reconfigured to predominately use a triple arrival scheme utilizing three of the four parallel runways, with the fourth runway being used for takeoffs.

Before the opening of 10C-28C, the new runway, 9L/27R which opened in November 2008, O’Hare had seven runways in three roughly-parallel sets. The longest is Runway 10L–28R, 13,001 by 150 feet (3,963 m × 46 m). Runways 9L, 10C, 10L, 14L, 14R, 27L, 27R, 28C and 28R have Category III instrument landing systems (ILS),[53] allowing trained aircrews to conduct landings with as little as 600 feet (180 m) of horizontal visibility. All other runway approaches except 4L and 32L have full Category I ILS. Runway 4L is seldom used for landings and has a localizer, the horizontal guidance component of an ILS system, but does not have a glideslope, the vertical component. Runway 32L was permanently closed to landings when the section south of the crossing with Runway 10L/28R was closed due to 10C/28C construction.[54]

Prior to the runway reconfiguration, all of O’Hare’s runways intersected each other with the exception of 4R/22L. This created problems in inclement weather, busy times, or high winds, and several near-collisions. The redevelopment, which essentially eliminates most active runway intersections, is intended to reduce collision hazards and delays.

The field started with four clustered runways; in March 1950 all were 5,500 to 5,750 feet (1,680–1,750 m) long. Runway 14 (later 14L) became 7,345 feet (2,239 m) around 1952; the 8,000-foot (2,400 m) runway 14R/32L opened in 1956 and became 11,600 feet (3,500 m) long in 1960. The 10,000-foot (3,000 m) 9R/27L (now designated 10L/28R) opened in 1968 and 14L became 10,000 feet (3,000 m) long around the same time. 4R/22L opened in 1971 and the new 9L/27R in 2008. In 2003 the fourth original runway (18/36) closed; its short length, lack of use, and placement no longer justified certification. Runway 18/36 is now taxiway M on airport charts.

The redevelopment, when completed, will remove the two northwest–southeast runways (14/32 L/R), construct four additional east–west runways (10C/28C, 10R/28L, 9L/27R, and 9C/27C), and extend the existing east–west runways (9R/27L and 10L/28R). The two existing northeast–southwest (4/22 L/R) runways will be retained. Currently, two of the four new runways have been constructed (9L/27R, 10C/28C), and one of the two extensions (10L/28R) has been completed.

In the earlier airfield layout, 32L was often used for takeoffs in a shortened configuration. Planes reached the runway at taxiway T10 (common) or taxiway N, formerly M (not common). This shortened the runway but allowed operations on runway 10L/28R to continue without restriction. The full length of the runway was available upon request, though with the extension of 10L/28R it was usually not needed. In May 2010 runway 14R/32L was permanently shortened to 9,685 feet (2,952 m) and it now starts at taxiway N.

O’Hare has a voluntary nighttime (2200–0700) noise abatement program.[55]

The runway reconfiguration at O’Hare will also improve the airport for future Airbus A380 service. On July 5, 2007 the runway previously designated 9R/27L became runway 10/28. On May 2, 2013, that same runway (10/28) became 10L/28R. On August 30, 2007, runway 9L/27R became 9R/27L.[56]

On September 25, 2008, a 2,857-foot (871 m) extension to 10L/28R opened.[57] On May 2, 2013, airport diagrams published by the FAA depicted the runway previously designated 10/28 as 10L/28R.[58]

Runway 10C/28C was commissioned and opened for regular use on October 17, 2013.[59] On October 17, 2013, airport diagrams published by the FAA depicted the runway as open.[53]