High hopes as runway rotation plan submitted to FAA
An overnight runway rotation plan is now under scrutiny by the Federal Aviation Administration and could begin in July at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
Residents in neighborhoods under siege by jet noise have been campaigning for relief since 2014. The city's answer is a six-month trial of a weekly runway rotation from 11 p.m. to about 5:30 a.m. that planners predict will distribute the din more evenly around the region.
FAA authorities received the plan Monday and have said it should not take too long to review it.
The idea is to use different diagonal and parallel runways along with east and west approaches so that neighborhoods affected by loud aircraft at night will get a break a majority of the time.
City planners intend to test a schedule with 12 weekly periods that rotate. Each new week will start at 10 p.m. or "after when demand allows for one arrival and one departure runway," officials stated.
Specific details of the rotation and runway schedules were not available.
There have been complaints from suburbs such as Des Plaines who fear the change could end the relative quiet homeowners have experienced since the city switched to an east-west flight path in fall 2013.
But officials sounded optimistic about the experiment, with Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger S. Evans saying in a statement that the plan was "critical to immediately reducing noise exposure for the communities most severely impacted."
Resident feedback is crucial to the study, and people will be asked to fill out surveys on a test website at airportprojects.net/flyquiettest.
Repairs to Runway 10-Left/28-Right on the south airfield and the construction of a new runway on the south airfield have added to the complexity of the plan, approved May 6 by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.
The rotation isn't a final fix. A new runway opening in 2020 and the decommissioning of a diagonal runway in 2019 will change flight patterns again.