Continuing anger in Chicago about large number of night flights over new areas, due to new runway

Changes to Chicago O’Hare flight paths were made from October 2013 when flight were shifted to being mainly over suburbs north and south of the airport to mostly areas east and west of it. The airport has 8 runways, and is slowly closing the diagonal ones and opening new east-west ones  to accommodate more flights. There are numerous night flights – perhaps as many as 19 between 11.30pm and 6am on one night.  People whose sleep is repeatedly interrupted by plane noise are angry and criticised the Chicago Aviation Commissioner for her failure to stop and listen to the complaints from affected communities. She does at least attend noise commission meetings, but has left every meeting before the public comment section. People feel this is indicative of how the citizens of Chicago have been treated and ignored. The Aviation Commission is looking at proposals to spread night noise, by rotating O’Hare runways used at night on a regular basis and using less populated flight corridors. However, city consultants have made clear that the current number of flights from 6 -7am and from 10 -11pm demand more runways than voluntary “fly-quiet” rules require. Therefore, they say different fly-quiet rules should be established for those hours. 



Rude’ O’Hare awakening: Sleep-deprived residents unload on City Aviation commissioner

BY ROSALIND ROSSI  (Chicago Sun Times)

8th January 2016

Citizens angry about new O’Hare Airport jet noise disrupting their sleep unloaded on the city’s aviation commissioner on Friday for repeatedly leaving noise commission meetings early, before any public participation session.

The first outburst of clear irritation occurred in a foyer outside the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission meeting room, as Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans headed out the door.

“Once again, I had four hours of sleep!’’ Arlene Banas, of Chicago’s 41st Ward, angrily snapped at the fleeing commissioner.

Banas said committee meetings had devolved into a “dog and pony show” by Evans’ failure to stick around and listen to the public.

“Can’t you stay for community comments?” Jimmy Nuter, of Norridge, asked as Evans walked away.

Nuter said his Mayfair home sees as many as 600 to 700 O’Hare flights a day overhead, ruining his sleep. He called Evans “rude.”

Unlike her predecessor, Rosemarie Andolino, Evans has actually attended noise commission meetings since becoming city aviation commissioner last June and inheriting a wellspring of anger over a dramatic October 2013 shift in O’Hare flight paths.

However, Evans routinely leaves before the public comment section of each meeting.

Evans tries to attend “as many meetings as she can for as long as she can” but had some other meetings Friday morning, her spokesman, Owen Kilmer, told a reporter after Friday’s meeting.

Evans’ plan to spread out night jet noise more evenly and other O’Hare proposals prove she is “very sympathetic” to resident complaints, Kilmer said.

But several citizens Friday didn’t see it that way.

“We do not get respect from the commissioner. She’s left every meeting early,” Nuter told the noise commission during its public participation session.

“This is so indicative of how the citizens of Chicago have been treated,” Steve Brick, of Chicago, chimed in. “At every turn, we are ignored.”

Brick said Evans and the noise commission chair, Arlene Juracek, were literally turning their backs on residents. They and others sit with their backs to the audience, sometimes making it difficult for the public to hear what’s being said or know who is speaking, he said.

“We go to all these meetings and the citizens are sitting in the back, looking at your backs,” Brick said. “Up until now, we have been completely ignored. I for one am not going to stand for it.”

Brick said he might not be so angry if not for the fact that the last thing he heard at night – and the first thing that woke him at 3 a.m. – was an O’Hare jet.

“This is the hell we are living under,” Brick said. “The citizens of Chicago are fed up.”

Commission members Friday were given an update on how an ad hoc committee of their group was reviewing proposals to spread out night jet noise by rotating O’Hare runways used at night on a regular basis and using less populated flight corridors.

However, city consultants have made clear that the current number of flights from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. demand more runways than voluntary fly-quiet rules require. Therefore, they say, different fly-quiet rules should be established for those hours.

A key goal of the ongoing $8.7 billion conversion of the O’Hare airfield from mostly diagonal runways to mostly east-west parallel ones is to better accommodate more flights.

But the fallout has been that since October 2013, residents east and west of the airport have been bombarded with new jet noise.

Since the big switch, the growth in jet noise complaints, especially in Chicago, as been explosive and has won O’Hare the distinction of racking up the most jet noise beefs — by a landslide — among the nation’s 10 largest airports, a Chicago Sun-Times/Better Government Association investigation has shown.

Data released Friday indicated that from January through November of 2015, the city received a record 3.7 million O’Hare noise complaints — 170 times more than during all of 2012, which was the last full year before flight paths changed. However, November saw fewer complaints (351,873) and complainants (50,862) than October.

One citizen contended Friday that there are other ways to address jet traffic besides using more runways during shoulder hours than current fly-quiet rules require.

“There’s an alternative: restrict demand,” 41st Ward resident Frank Gagliardi told the commission. “There are other places that do this.”

Also Friday, Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) told the commission that he wrote Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Dec. 21, saying he wanted to replace Emanuel-appointee Catherine Dunlap as the ward’s representative on the noise commission, but has yet to hear back.

Emanuel has the final say in naming or replacing commission members.

Napolitano said he’s attended every commission meeting since his April election, and has always been given a seat at the commission table and a name placard, along with Dunlap. But at his first appearance since asking to replace Dunlap — on Friday— suddenly he was denied a seat at the table, Napolitano said.

“As the elected official of the 41st Ward, I feel it is time for a change and I can best represent the ward in this fight on noise and pollution,” Napolitano said.



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.”



New O’Hare flight paths wake hundreds of Chicagoans beyond free-insulation zone

Chicago O’Hare Airport has a real noise problem. Figures for March show hundreds of Chicago residents were kept awake by aircraft noise, even though they live outside an area predicted to shoulder the worst noise from new flight paths. Analysis from the complaints website shows these people live outside a “noise contour” that determines eligibility for free sound insulation. The noise complaints came from up to 13 miles away from the airport, which is over 8 miles beyond the limits of the noise contour that the FAA predicted would experience onerous jet noise once an $8 billion O’Hare Modernization Program is completed. Studying the locations from where complaints come, it can be seen that many are between two flight paths, which shows people are being affected by noise from both. (That would be the case over London if there was another runway – two parallel arrivals routes a mile or so apart). Changes to Chicago flight paths were made from October 2013 when flight were shifted to being mainly over suburbs north and south of O’Hare to mostly areas east and west of it. Some people are aware of many flights over them at night, with one resident counting 19 between 11.30pm and 6am on one night. People are finding the sleep disturbance very distressing.


Residents in Chicago, fed up with O’Hare airport jet noise, take to the streets to fight it

O’Hare airport in Chicago has been upsetting residents to the northwest of the city, by changing flight paths, so some people are being over flown a great deal than before. This is the result of the O’Hare Modernization Project that took effect in October 2013. The changes mean that 85% of O’Hare arrivals and departures between 11 pm and 6am will fly over homes in certain suburbs. Those living under these flight paths face not only the noise, the annoyance, the potential impacts on their health and the loss of sleep, but also a decrease in their property prices.  The local community campaign, FAiR (Fair Allocation in Runways) has been touring affected neighbourhoods giving out door hanger signs encouraging people to get active and fight the flight paths, or else “kiss your property values goodbye.”  They plan to hand out door hangers to 50,000 homes. They also have “yard signs” (placards to stick in the front garden) for the campaign, selling these to raise campaign funds. Just as in London and near other UK airports, people are devastated by the new noise pollution. One commented that even with noise insulation, it was impossible to avoid the noise in the neighbourhood, even by going shopping, going swimming, going to the park. It cannot be avoided.