O'Hare Airport

Plan to Redistribute Runway Noise at O'Hare Approved

A new plan to more evenly distribute runway noise at O’Hare International Airport cleared a major hurdle on Friday, but not everyone is happy with the results.

By a 51-8 margin, the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission voted in favor of plan that it says will be more equitable in terms of which neighborhoods are impacted by the sounds of landing and departing jets at the airport.

The plan moves some overnight traffic from parallel runways to horizontal ones, so different neighborhoods will feel the effects on given days.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the plan features an eight-week flight rotation with six different configurations that are arranged to switch each week. It will alternate traffic between the east and west sides of the airport to more fairly distribute the noise created by airplanes at the airport.

Some suburban residents, including Des Plaines resident Wendy Harvey, believe that the plan is still unfair and will create too many headaches.

“It keeps me up all night. I don’t sleep,” she said. “My pictures on the wall shake, they vibrate, and even my clock vibrates.”

The group Fair Allocation in Runways also opposed the plan.

“Instead of providing periodic noise relief, the ONCC has delivered consecutive heavy impacts to communities east and west of O’Hare every week and every night.”

Some communities are in favor of the new plan, including Bensenville.

“Right now it’s 100 percent of the flights going over Bensenville,” City Manager Evan Summers said. “This plan makes it 74 percent of the time, so 26 percent of the time we get relief.”

The plan is far from a done deal, however. The plan will first have to be approved by the Chicago Department of Aviation, and then the Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve it after that.

The earliest the new plan would go into effect would be in late 2018. The Chicago Sun-Times says that the plan would remain in place until a new runway is completed at the airport sometime around 2020. 

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