Proposal at Chicago O’Hare airport to share night flights, on a weekly rota, between runways

Chicago O’Hare airport is huge, with 8 runways. Some are parallel east-west, and some are diagonal and as new runways were built, older ones were closed. This has meant extra plane noise for thousands of residents in various parts of the Chicago area, and there have been huge protests.  Night noise has been a particular problem, and residents have been fighting for less noise over them at night, for several years. Now the airport has a revised night runway plan, that means sharing the noise around. There will now be a rota, using different runways at night (considered to be 10.50pm to 5.25am) for week-long periods, with the whole schedule repeated after 12 weeks. That would create a some guarantee of weeks with no noise for most areas, and a fairly predictable calendar of when certain runways would absorb what city experts estimated would be 45 arrivals and 35 departures each night.  There will be some winners, and some losers in this process.  “Everyone gets some benefit … Everyone gets some pain.’’ It is estimated that perhaps almost 68,000 Chicago area residents might get less noise.  There will be a vote (7th May) on whether to forward the plan to the FAA for final sign-off on a six-month test.

O’Hare plan could reduce night noise for 68,000 residents: study

By Rosalind Rossi

5.5.2016  (Chicago Sun Times)

A revised O’Hare Airport night runway plan could reduce jet noise for nearly 68,000 Chicago area residents during the overnight hours, according to a new analysis released in advance of a key vote Friday on the proposal.

Four runways affecting parts of Chicago and Schiller Park would be among six to see fewer night flights under the plan.

But five others — affecting suburbs northwest, northeast and west of O’Hare — would see more operations between 10:50 p.m. and 5:25 a.m., the study by JDA Aviation Technology Solutions estimated.

Although some residents would be hit with more night noise, even more would see less, resulting in an overall reduction to 67,887 residents, according to the JDA study, which was bankrolled by the Suburban O’Hare Commission.

“It’s the fairest plan,’’ said Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson, president of the commission.

“Everyone gets some benefit,” he said. “Everyone gets some pain.’’

At least nine members of the commission have endorsed a six-month test of the idea. The Fair Allocation in Runways citizen coalition supports the “concept” of the plan, albeit with some reservations.

The proposal would rotate night runways every week for 12 weeks, so every area around O’Hare would be assured at least some weeks of night peace. And it would establish a fairly predictable calendar of when certain runways would absorb what city experts estimated would be 45 arrivals and 35 departures each night.

Portions of Chicago’s 45th Ward, Elk Grove Village, Schiller Park, Itasca and Wood Dale could experience night jets in six of the 12 weeks in the rotation — the most of 45 communities within 5 miles of O’Hare, according to an analysis by the Chicago Department of Aviation released Thursday.

The plan would alternate between diagonal runways affecting only suburban areas, and east-west parallel runways that currently shoulder most flights. Those parallel runways affect areas east of O’Hare, such as Chicago and Schiller Park, and west of O’Hare, including Bensenville, Wood Dale and Itasca.

The O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission is set to vote Friday on whether to forward the plan to the Federal Aviation Administration for final signoff on a six-month test.

Another version of the proposal drew a rocky reception in March, when it failed to muster the two-thirds majority needed to advance it to the FAA.

Some suburbs were still balking at the idea this week.

Des Plaines already is being bombarded with daytime noise from O’Hare’s northernmost runway, Des Plaines Ald.  Malcolm Chester said Thursday. The rotation plan would bring more night flights from diagonal runway 22R, which would be used during three of the plan’s 12 weeks.

Des Plaines is so close to O’Hare that night flights are “a big problem,” Chester said.

“You not only have noise, you have [landing] lights light up homes like Christmas trees,’’ Chester said. “The intensity is quite extraordinary.’’

Plus, Chester fears that by late 2018 or early 2019, when another diagonal runway is due to be closed, 22R will see even more traffic as one of only two diagonals remaining in the rotation.

Des Plaines is among suburbs that have experienced O’Hare jet noise for decades — well before the ongoing $3.8 billion O’Hare overhaul that triggered a dramatic 2013 change in flight paths.

Afterward, so many Chicagoans complained about the new onslaught of planes over portions of the 41st, 45th, 38th, 39th and 40th wards from east-west parallel runways that O’Hare jet noise became a 2015 Chicago mayoral campaign issue.

“Finally, someone from the city is exposed to what we have been exposed to for 60 years,’’ Chester said. “Now that the city has an impact, they want a rotation to get it off the city.”

Four O'Hare Airport runways affecting parts of Chicago — 10C, 27L, 28C and 28R — would be among six to see less night flights under a proposed O'Hare runway rotation program. Five runways would see more night activity. Source: JDA Aviation Technology Solutions, Suburban O'Hare Commission, ORD Runway Rotation Plan Analysis and Recommendations

Four O’Hare Airport runways affecting portions of Chicago — 10C, 27L, 28C and 28R — would be among six runways to see fewer night flights between 10:50 p.m. and 5:25 a.m., a new analysis of a proposed O’Hare runway rotation program indicates. Five runways would see more night activity, according to the analysis of a 117-day period by JDA Aviation Technology Solutions. It was funded by the Suburban O’Hare Commission.

However, Schiller Park Mayor Barbara Piltaver noted that all the suburbs around O’Hare will benefit from its expansion, so they all should all share night jet noise.

Schiller Park and portions of Chicago have been especially hard hit by the 2013 flight path changes because the airfield’s two longest runways are aimed right at them.

“It bothers me when people say, `We don’t want planes coming over our towns,’ ” Piltaver said. “You all benefit from O’Hare Airport. I think everyone has to share the burden.”

Elmwood Park, which opposed the last rotation plan, is supporting the new one because it does not call for flight path changes, Elmwood Park trustee Alan Kaminski said.

The latest proposal brings “predictability” to night jet noise, Kaminski said. It would be tested for six months and then die automatically, unless the Noise Commission tweaks or renews it.

“This is not a final proposal. We will all have the opportunity to observe the impact,’’ Kaminski said. “It’s a work in progress.”

O'Hare Airport wants to rotate night runways every week, over 12 weeks, between the hours of roughly 11 p.m . and 5:30 a.m., based on this tentative schedule. Source: Chicago Department of Aviation

O’Hare Airport wants to rotate night runways every week, over 12 weeks, between the hours of roughly 11 p.m . and 5:30 a.m., based on this tentative schedule. Source: Chicago Department of Aviation

See the website of FAiR  (Fair Allocation in  Runways)


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:
And more on Chicago O’Hare runways  on Wikipedia at

See earlier:

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 new runway & flightpaths creating huge opposition by those now over-flown

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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.