Chicago and suburban leaders reach consensus on proposal for overnight noise relief

The O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) Ad Hoc Fly Quiet Committee today approved criteria to establish a nighttime runway rotation proposal for O’Hare International Airport.

The rotation proposal, termed “Fly Quiet II,” developed by the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), in consultation with CDA and Suburban O’Hare Commission (SOC) aviation experts, has the potential to significantly reduce nighttime noise impacts to communities most affected by aircraft noise.

 “The goal of this committee was to bring relief quickly to communities most impacted by nighttime noise,” said Committee Chair Joseph Annunzio. “Approval of the Fly Quiet runway rotation concepts presented to the committee today puts the testing of a runway rotation plan on a fast track.”

The Fly Quiet II proposal contained a set of criteria that includes: plans to alternate East and West Flow runway use to further distribute noise exposure more evenly; to include use of Runway14R/ 32L for nighttime operations; requests the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct a six-month test and monitor performance; allows citizen feedback during the test phase; and requires full ONCC review after testing prior to finalization.

The committee also voted today to approve modifications to the Fly Quiet program, dividing it into three periods to address operations during the late evening, overnight and early morning hours. At a previous meeting, the committee approved a measure that would refine nighttime departure flight headings to reduce the number of homes impacted by aircraft noise.

The Fly Quiet Committee will present all of the proposals to the full ONCC membership for consideration at the next regularly scheduled ONCC meeting on March 11, 2016. If the proposal is approved by the ONCC, the CDA will package and submit it to the FAA for review and approval. Implementation of the rotation plan as a test program could begin as early as May 2016.

“The city’s goal is to provide immediate relief for communities most impacted by nighttime noise, and that’s what this plan will accomplish,” said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans.

“I want thank the Fly Quiet Committee members for their hard work studying this complex issue, and I look forward to discussing this proposal at the ONCC March meeting. Ensuring that O’Hare is both the economic engine of the city, as well as a good neighbor, is my top priority. We have more work to do, but this is an important first step,” she said.

ONCC Chair and Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek said she was encouraged by today’s meeting. “We heard different points of view, everyone listened to each other and a productive discussion took place,” Juracek said. “It was a group of people who wanted to reach a decision. The committee took an important step forward toward putting the wheels in motion on an Interim Fly Quiet Plan,” she said. “All of the parties involved – CDA, SOC and the FAA are working together and talking to each other in a constructive way that will bring relief.”

The measure approved today seeks to establish a weekly runway rotation program at O’Hare during overnight hours that is designed to achieve a more balanced distribution of noise exposure for Chicago and suburban communities. Each period may consist of one arrival and one departure runway or one mixed use runway (runway used for both arrivals and departures). The rotation schedule would also be published for the public to view.

Under the current Fly Quiet Program, certain runways are predominately utilized for aircraft arrivals and departures. Communities near the flight paths of these designated runways are the most heavily impacted by aircraft noise at night. With a rotation program in place, the designated nighttime arrival and departure runways at O’Hare would be rotated on a weekly basis.

“The FAA looks to ONCC as the representation of all noise affected communities,” said Commissioner Evans. “It is key that the ONCC has set up a process that garners input from those communities. The FAA has made it clear that they will focus on what ONCC recommends. The details of the plan must be developed by the FAA themselves and the experts. The FAA agrees with concept and they want it to work,” Evans said.

She continued, “The city is committed to this process. We all share the same goal of giving people relief, both in the short and long term,” Evans stated. “We will use every tool in the tool box to get there.”

The ONCC Fly Quiet Committee was formed in fall 2015 to explore ways to modify O’Hare Fly Quiet procedures. The committee is comprised of nine voting members from Chicago and suburbs near O’Hare as well as representatives from SOC and Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR).

CDA Presentation - 02/16/16

JDA Presentation - 02/16/16