O'Hare runway rotation may take off in July

Residents eager for some jet noise relief overnight should look to July as the latest date for a trial run of a runway rotation.

The weekly runway rotation plan is expected to be submitted to the Federal Aviation Authority for approval in the next 10 days and could go live next month, Chicago officials said Friday at an O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

The test would last six months and is intended to distribute the din from airplanes between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. or so.

The proposal still being finalized is a complex one that figures in diagonal and parallel runways, east and west flight paths, prevailing winds, weather and repairs on Runway 10-Left/28-Right this summer.

One of the hardest hit communities since Chicago shifted to an east/west flight pattern using parallel runways is Bensenville. Mayor Frank Soto said residents in neighborhoods close to O'Hare were eager to try out the rotation in hopes of getting more sleep. "They're excited because what's happening now is untenable," Soto said.

Resident feedback is an essential part of the six-month trial but Soto said it's important to educate the public about the rotation so the FAA gets accurate data in evaluating it. Some homeowners are so overwhelmed by noise they're logging hundreds of complaints a week, which he worries could skew results.

"If it's a relief, then document that it's a relief. If it's bad, then document that," Soto said.

If the rotation plan is a success, it's existence will be temporary. The city is planning to retire a diagonal runway (14-Right/32-Left) used in the rotation in 2019 and add another parallel runway to the north airfield in 2020, which will change noise patterns again.

Noise complaints registered with the Chicago Department of Aviation totaled 459,026 in April compared to 408,468 in April 2015. The tally dipped slightly from March 2016 when 468,691 were registered.

April data included 133,827 complaints from Bensenville, 70,012 complaints from Elk Grove Village, 19,078 complaints from Itasca, 23,944 complaints from Schaumburg and 43,011 complaints from Wood Dale.

April complaints originated from 74,379 "complainants," the city reported.

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