O'Hare overnight runway rotation heads to feds after some turbulence

  • A proposed overnight runway rotation plan for O'Hare International Airport was approved by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission in August. Next stop is the FAA.

    A proposed overnight runway rotation plan for O'Hare International Airport was approved by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission in August. Next stop is the FAA. Courtesy of Chicago Department of Aviation

  • A plane flies over a Des Plaines subdivision prior to landing at O'Hare International Airport.

      A plane flies over a Des Plaines subdivision prior to landing at O'Hare International Airport. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, July 2022

  • The rotation proposal, which still needs federal approval, uses four of O'Hare's longest parallel east/west runways and two diagonal ones. The plan alternates from the north airfield to the south airfield and then to the crosswind runways.

    The rotation proposal, which still needs federal approval, uses four of O'Hare's longest parallel east/west runways and two diagonal ones. The plan alternates from the north airfield to the south airfield and then to the crosswind runways. Courtesy of Chicago Department of Aviation

  • Two runways at the far north and far south borders of O'Hare, with air traffic control towers that close at night, are not in the rotation plan.

    Two runways at the far north and far south borders of O'Hare, with air traffic control towers that close at night, are not in the rotation plan. Courtesy of Chicago Department of Aviation

 
By Marnie Pyke
mpyke@dailyherald.com
Posted9/5/2022 5:30 AM

The vast majority of O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission members recently approved an overnight runway rotation intended to evenly distribute the shriek of jets around the region, but there were headwinds.

Seven out of 62 commission members -- Itasca, Norridge, South Barrington, Norridge School District 80 and Chicago's Wards 40, 41 and 45 -- opposed the plan at an Aug. 17 meeting.

 

No one disputed that the commission's Fly Quiet Committee, which prepared the 12-week runway schedule, gave it enough thought.

"Ultimately, this was a plan developed through seven years of hard work by the Fly Quiet Committee and the full ONCC, and I was pleased with the amount of support that the Fly Quiet Committee's recommendation received," commission Vice Chair Karyn Robles said last week.

South Barrington Mayor Paula McCombie said she dissented "because of the concentration of noise we're going to have for a solid week at a time.

"What we have right now is a dispersion of the planes going over different areas (of South Barrington) at night." The rotation "is going to affect us more than it would if it was occasional planes coming over our town. If you have a constant stream of airplanes going over your town, it's going to be a lot more noisier at night" for that period, McCombie said.

"My heart is with protecting the residents. And, we keep our windows open out here," McCombie added, noting South Barrington doesn't qualify for sound insulation funding.

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The rotation proposal, which still needs federal approval, uses four of O'Hare's longest parallel east/west runways and two diagonal ones.

The plan alternates from the north airfield to the south airfield and then to the crosswind runways.

Two runways at the far north and far south borders of O'Hare, with air traffic control towers that close at night, are not in the rotation.

Another tweak is that planners are offering two different departure headings (or angles) for planes taking off at night on Runways 9-Right/27-Left and 10-Left/28-Right as part of the rotation.

The rotation plan grew out of protests from residents losing sleep after Chicago switched O'Hare to a mainly east-west system with parallel runways nearly a decade ago with the aim of improving safety and getting planes in and out faster. It channeled an unexpected cacophony to some neighborhoods and amplified the din in communities such as Bensenville near O'Hare.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

So what's next?

"Now that the ONCC has approved the new Fly Quiet Program, the Chicago Department of Aviation, as the official airport sponsor, will take all of our work and package it as a submittal to the Federal Aviation Administration," said Robles, Schaumburg's transportation director. "We expect that process to take some time and I am waiting on an official timeline from the CDA. Once the FAA has our submittal they will make a determination on what process will be required, but we are expecting an environmental review that will include public hearings as part of that process.

"The ONCC is looking forward to working with the CDA and the FAA through the federal review process and is eager to see a new Fly Quiet program implemented."

Got an opinion? Drop an email to mpyke@dailyherald.com.

Your voice

Last week's column, which explained how tollway transponders from 2020 to 2026 have incorrect expiry dates and actually last two years longer than labels indicate, didn't come in time for Randy Harris of Campton Hills.

"I had one of the newer transponders that had a printed expiration date of March 2021," he wrote. "Since I hadn't received a letter from the tollway allowing me to exchange it at my local Jewel, I contacted them via email (phone calls to their number went directly to voicemail) requesting an authorization letter. For reasons they didn't explain, the letter could not be generated. Instead, I was told to wrap the transponder in aluminum foil (to prevent additional tolls during transit) and mail it back to them. I did that and received my replacement about three weeks later.

"Why didn't they tell me (about the glitch) back in 2021 and save me the hassle of mailing the transponder back to them and paying for three weeks of missed tolls through their website?"

You should know

Illinois tollway officials confirmed Friday that interim Executive Director Lanyea Griffin has left the agency after five months as its chief. Griffin previously was deputy chief of program implementation. She replaced Executive Director Jose Alvarez amid concerns about friction between him and the former chairman. On Aug. 26, the board appointed Chief Operating Officer Cassaundra Rouse as the new executive director.

Gridlock alert

Expect some pain on I-290 in Elmhurst and Addison through Thanksgiving. IDOT crews are replacing supports and pavement for bridges carrying traffic over Route 83 and Wood Dale Road. Lanes will be slimmed from three to two.

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