FAA now sees 'a path forward' for noise-reducing O'Hare runway rotation

A long-awaited overnight runway rotation plan at O'Hare International Airport is still viable, with some revisions, Federal Aviation Administration officials assured local leaders Thursday.

A May 3 letter to the Chicago Department of Aviation saying the FAA "is not able to approve the air traffic feasibility" of the Fly Quiet rotation proposal caused consternation for the city and O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

The 12-week rotation plan, intended to disperse jet noise across the region and give residents a better night's sleep, took seven years to develop.

Members called the letter "disheartening," and worried implementing the rotation would be significantly delayed.

However, "we are committed to getting Fly Quiet across the finish line," FAA Deputy Regional Administrator Sean Doyle told ONCC members Thursday, suggesting the letter might have caused some confusion.

"We absolutely understand the partnerships and the work that had gone into the development of that proposal," he added. "By no means do I want to say the FAA is adverse to it."

The FAA's air traffic department has raised concerns about certain headings, or angles, for departing aircraft in the proposal.

Doyle said discussions Wednesday between federal and Chicago Department of Aviation technical experts on the issue were productive and "I really think we have a path forward."

The next step will be submitting a revised proposal to the FAA, and Doyle promised a review in a timely fashion.

ONCC Chairman Joe Annunzio said he appreciates the efforts of the FAA and Chicago Department of Aviation "to keep this proposal moving forward.

"I assure you we are committed to keeping this on track," he told members.

The plan offered a 12-week rotation between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. using four parallel and two diagonal runways. The rotation was approved by a majority of noise commission members last summer. The process was prolonged because of the technical complexities involving flights at the nation's second-busiest airport and because organizers sought to come up with a plan amenable to dozens of communities.

FAA grounds runway rotation intended to distribute jet noise pain at night

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