FAA promises to keep working on O'Hare noise imbalance

Federal Aviation Administration officials said they're listening to concerns about overuse of O'Hare International Airport's south airfield, which has caused a din for residents in towns such as Bensenville.

But achieving an equally balanced airfield is complicated and will take time, Deputy Regional Administrator Sean Doyle told O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission members Thursday.

In late 2021, the Chicago Department of Aviation wrapped up a multiyear program to build a parallel runway system at O'Hare. Along with improving safety and efficiency, the end result was promised to more evenly distribute jet noise around the region.

But in 2022, 79% of nighttime departures and 71% of arrivals occurred on the south airfield, Chicago Department of Aviation data showed. Statistics for April 2023 indicate the south airfield handled over 60% of operations.

"We know there's a lot of concerns and questions around the north-south airfield balance," Doyle said. "There's no one single answer to that question. I know that's what's frustrating for a lot of folks.

"Right now we have a lot of construction going on still. We have other operational things going on that are challenges to that."

Bensenville Village Manager Evan Summers said the racket is disrupting life for homeowners who were promised the new runways would balance noise around O'Hare.

"It's frustrating for me and my residents," he said.

Doyle noted that Chicago's newest terminal building program along with weather are other factors in the mix that determine what runways air traffic controllers use.

But "we are committed to continue the conversation," he said.

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