Latest overnight O'Hare noise rotation leaves out major diagonal runway

  • A third runway rotation should begin mid-July with the intent of more evenly distributing jet noise at night.

    A third runway rotation should begin mid-July with the intent of more evenly distributing jet noise at night. Daily Herald File Photo

Updated 6/2/2017 3:25 PM

A third overnight runway rotation test will go live midsummer at O'Hare International Airport despite objections from some suburbs worried about sleepless nights.

O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission members voted Friday 30-4 in favor of the rotation, which is intended to evenly distribute the din from jets in the wee hours.


"It's the No. 1 concern in my community," Bensenville Mayor "I'm glad this has passed for all of us."

Not so pleased were "no" voters from Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Downers Grove and Park Ridge-Niles School District 64.

"Some of these communities have planes that are 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet in the air" at night," Des Plaines Alderman Malcolm Chester said. "We have planes a couple hundred feet in the air in my community. Every rotation plan has to make sense and has to be equitable. This is not equitable."

The 12-week test is intended to balance parallel and diagonal runways and likely would start in mid-July as a second trial wraps up. Unlike other rotations, it won't include a major northwest diagonal runway (15/33) to be decommissioned in spring 2018.

The absence of 15/33 and the inclusion of other diagonal runways is what's troubling towns who say they'll be pounded with jets at night as a result.

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"We're seeing flight patterns we've never seen before ... there's very little predictability," Park Ridge Mayor Marty Maloney.

A majority of suburbs including Addison, Arlington Heights, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Hoffman Estates, Itasca, Mount Prospect, Rosemont, Schaumburg and Wood Dale supported the revised rotation.

Chicago Department of Aviation planners intend to use the data from the tests to develop an interim overnight flight rotation for use after 15/33 is gone and until a final parallel runway opens on the north airfield in 2020.

"I'll be interested in seeing what it does over Mount Prospect without 15/33," Mount Prospect Mayor and ONCC Chairwoman Arlene Juracek said. "This will give us an early head's up as to what we'll see post-15/33's decommissioning."


But members of the Fair Allocation in Runways groups pushed the city to keep 15/33 active in the rotation, saying the CDA was reversing itself on previous promises.

"This is letting the city of Chicago tell us when we can and cannot sleep," FAIR member and Park Ridge resident Al Rapp said.

Wood Dale Mayor Nunzio Pulice, however, asked, "isn't it better to do the test without 15/33 while the windows are still open? People think they'll save that runway. I took a (O'Hare) flight three weeks ago and I could see the construction. It's going to happen."

The Federal Aviation Administration has to formally approve the rotation.

To learn more about the rotation schedule, go to

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