New O'Hare runway, air traffic control tower going live

  • The new air traffic control tower was built to watch flights at Runway 10-Right/28-Left.

      The new air traffic control tower was built to watch flights at Runway 10-Right/28-Left. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • O'Hare International Airport's new air traffic control tower overlooks Runway 10-Right/28-Left, which opens Thursday.

      O'Hare International Airport's new air traffic control tower overlooks Runway 10-Right/28-Left, which opens Thursday. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • The new air traffic control tower at O'Hare International Airport is located on the south end of the airfield and stands 209 feet tall.

      The new air traffic control tower at O'Hare International Airport is located on the south end of the airfield and stands 209 feet tall. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • The new air traffic control tower at O'Hare International Airport cost $45 million to build.

      The new air traffic control tower at O'Hare International Airport cost $45 million to build. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/15/2015 7:25 AM

O'Hare International Airport's newest runway goes live Thursday, and so does the air traffic control tower just north of it.

The Federal Aviation Administration opened the tower briefly for media tours Wednesday and provided a wealth of statistics, including the fact it's 209 feet tall and 194 feet at the controllers' eye level.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But for residents west of O'Hare concerned about noise, the most relevant information will be the number of flights handled by Runway 10-Right/28-Left, located on the far south end of O'Hare. It will be used mainly for planes arriving from the west, with 125 flights projected to land between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., according to the FAA.

Here are some other details about the new additions:

• The tower cost $45 million to build.

• The tower will be staffed by five air traffic controllers who will occupy a 440-square-foot office, known as the cab, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. That's much smaller than the main O'Hare tower, which is 1,050 square feet and runs 24/7.

• The base building attached to the tower has a green roof and geothermal heating and cooling.

• Eight window panes measuring 8.75 feet by 11 feet surround the cab.

O'Hare has a third control tower at the north end of the airfield, which opened in 2008 and monitors Runway 9-Left/27-Right traffic.

The far south runway has an "offset approach," meaning pilots are instructed to come in from a 2.5-degree angle to the south, then straighten out within five to 10 miles of landing.

Chicago is in the midst of building six parallel runways but the process has been controversial.

American and United airlines are balking at costs for the sixth runway, and some homeowners beset with jet noise are pushing back as well.

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