Elk Grove Village dismisses lawsuit against FAA over runway rotation plan

Elk Grove Village leaders Thursday announced they would drop a lawsuit seeking to require the Federal Aviation Administration to consider an alternate proposal for an overnight runway rotation at O'Hare International Airport.

The move comes as the Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing a rotation plan submitted by the Chicago Department of Aviation after approval by O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission members last year.

The intent is to evenly distribute the problem of nighttime jet noise around the region, a pioneering approach for U.S. airports.

Elk Grove Village officials said the submitted rotation plan was unfair because it would result in using a disproportionate amount of O'Hare's north and south parallel runways for jets.

They supported an alternate rotation and asked the FAA to look at that concept and follow National Environmental Policy Act rules.

On Nov. 29, FAA Regional Administrator for the Great Lakes Region Erik Amend wrote to Mayor Craig Johnson saying the agency had not made any final decisions yet and was complying with federal laws. Regarding the village's request about an alternate rotation plan, the FAA "will consider these comments, and other comments, before it makes a final decision," Amend said.

He noted the agency was reaching out "to avoid unnecessary litigation."

Based on the FAA letter, Johnson said the village would withdraw its lawsuit and continue to work with the agency in good faith.

"We filed this lawsuit to ensure that the FAA complies with the National Environmental Policy Act and all other federal laws related to the permanent Fly Quiet Program at O'Hare," Johnson said in a statement.

"We aren't seeking special treatment and we aren't trying to unduly shift the burden of nighttime noise to our neighbors."

A majority of suburban and Chicago members of the ONCC approved the original rotation in August 2022 after years of study and much debate.

That plan was submitted "because it was a democratic process and it had the most votes to get through ONCC," said Bensenville Village Manager Evan Summers, ONCC Fly Quiet Committee chair.

His understanding was the FAA had been following the National Environmental Policy Act, so "I'm not entirely sure what was accomplished by this," Summers said, referring to the lawsuit.

Concerns over the slow pace of the federal review were exacerbated by the lawsuit, Summers noted.

With Elk Grove Village's decision to drop the suit, "I would assume this would be free sailing," he said.

Why Elk Grove Village is going to court over O'Hare Fly Quiet plan

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