Runway rotation could ease O'Hare jet noise

  • Jet noise from O'Hare is causing problems for suburban residents.

    Jet noise from O'Hare is causing problems for suburban residents. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 12/15/2015 6:17 AM

Slight changes to flight paths could move airplanes over more highways, industry and parks instead of homes overnight, but that's just one of several vying solutions emerging from a Monday O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission meeting to spare residents from jet noise.

Chicago aviation consultants proposals' include shifting departures from one runway (28-Right) that points toward Bensenville and Wood Dale farther north. The change could reduce the number of people exposed to the din between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. or so from 20,278 to 5,510, they estimated.


Those ideas are coupled with an eight-week runway rotation schedule and three different "Fly Quiet" periods. The ONCC has been given the task of easing the din from airplanes at night after rising complaints from residents sparking from the creation of a parallel system at O'Hare International Airport using east/west runways.

The rotation "can be tested for a period of time and if it needs to be adjusted it could be adjusted," consultant Doug Goldberg said.

The city is considering putting two departure and one arrival runways in use between 10 and 11 p.m., adopting the rotation schedule until 6 a.m. or so, then using two arrival and one departure runways from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

JDA Aviation Technology Solutions experts, a firm hired by the Suburban O'Hare Commission, came up with different scenarios to fix the problem.

Among them was stopping the practice of letting some pilots land with "visual approaches," which means lower airplanes.

"It cuts pilots loose ... and it happens quite often," consultant and veteran air traffic controller Craig Burzych said.

JDA recommended using two or more runways for departures during the period from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. including one previously well-used diagonal runway that's slated to be closed in 2021. Using new GPS and satellite technology, flight paths can be better calibrated to avoid more residential areas, the consultants said.

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Others at the meeting urged the city to keep all its diagonal runways.

"What we're experiencing is not noise, it's total abuse," said Mary Stracha, who said "life changed" in Wood Dale when Runway 28-Center was commissioned in fall 2013.

"The complaints are real. Please try to put the diagonals back in place."

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