It's official: O'Hare's latest runway extension is ready to roll

As of today, jets can finally start landing on Runway 9-Right/27-Left at O'Hare International Airport after a major extension that makes it the second longest on the airfield.

Federal Aviation Administration officials this week signed off on the revamped runway, which is located on the north side of O'Hare and now stretches to 11,260 feet, or 2.1 miles.

It will be used mainly as a departure runway, officials said.

Completion of 9R/27L marks the completion of the $6 billion O'Hare Modernization Program creating a parallel runway system, and officials were hopeful passengers will see an improvement in efficiency.

"Now our runway reconfiguration is complete," Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said Wednesday.

"It gives us a more balanced airfield with three runways on the north airfield, three on the south and two crosswind (runways)."

The department is also working with communities through its O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission on runway rotations to ensure that "one community is not taking the brunt of the noise all the time," Rhee said.

The extension "opens up more possibilities for us as far as landing and departures," Rhee said.

"We now have O'Hare rightly balanced to be able to depart on each side of the airfield, and when you can do that, you're very efficient," said Michael Fox, United Airlines' managing director of Station Ops Control at O'Hare.

Another recent project completed on the north airfield was Runway 9-Center/27-Center, commissioned in November 2020. That runway is 11,245 feet long and is the third longest at O'Hare. The alpha is Runway 10-Left/28-Right at 13,000 feet on the south airfield, which also accommodates Runway 10-Center/28-Center, which reaches a substantial 10,801 feet.

With "two runways over 10,000 feet in the north side of the airfield and long runways on the south side of the field, O'Hare is going to be able to rock it," Fox said.

Omar Idris, United's Chicago O'Hare Hub vice president, noted that the extension "gives us a really long runway on the north side of the airport that's close to the terminal so it allows us efficient surface movement opportunities on the airfield to help with airfield traffic."

The FAA cautioned that there will be limited operations on the extended runway for the next six months until completion of full installation and testing of instrument landing systems.

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