The general membership of the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) voted today to approve an Interim Fly Quiet Nighttime Runway Rotation Plan for Chicago O’Hare International Airport (O’Hare). The plan could take effect late in 2018 and remain in place until new Runway 9C-27C is commissioned in 2020 as part of the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP). The ONCC recommendation now moves to the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), who in turn will develop a formal submittal to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for environmental review. The FAA’s review process is anticipated to take up to 12 months.

ONCC formed an ad hoc Fly Quiet Committee in September 2015 as a result of the CDA’s recommendation to modify the existing Fly Quiet Program. Fly Quiet is a voluntary nighttime noise abatement program at O’Hare that is in effect from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The committee’s purpose was to review, modify and make recommendations regarding nighttime noise abatement procedures at O’Hare.

The committee has overseen a series of three runway rotation tests, in order to find the best solution to balance nighttime noise impacts. Test 1, which was in place from July – December 2016, was intended to evaluate a condition that could be in place until Runway 14R-32L (later renamed Runway 15-33) is permanently closed. Test 2 ran from April – July 2017 and its purpose was to test the capabilities of the different configurations after responding to FAA concerns from Test 1, as well as test new configurations that were not included in the original test. Test 3, in effect from July – October 2017, was conducted to test a condition that could be in place from Runway 15-33 decommissioning until Runway 9C-27C commissioning.

The rotation plan approved by the commission today is essentially the same runway rotation plan that was followed in Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Test 3. The plan features an eight-week rotation plan with six configurations arranged to alternate each week between parallel and diagonal runways, and rotating east flow and west flow.

“I appreciate the work by all members of the ad hoc Fly Quiet Committee,” said Committee Chair Joe Annunzio, representing the Village of Niles. “It hasn’t been an easy process, but the solution that we reached will hopefully have positive results for those most effected by nighttime noise.”

In her remarks, ONCC Chair Arlene Juracek supported the effort, stating that Option A best met the goals and guidelines outlined by the committee at the start of the runway rotation process—to provide near-term relief; to reduce impacts to the highest impacted communities; and to provide predictability to the nearest extent possible.

Chicago Alderman John Arena, 45th Ward stated, “We sit on this body not only to represent our constituents, but to represent the region as a whole. We cannot allow things to devolve into tribal instincts. The communities to the east and west of the airport have been deluged by noise for decades. The reality is there is no perfect solution. All we are asking is that we approach the situation with a sense of fairness, and shared burden as well as benefit.”

Now that the ONCC has approved the Interim Fly Quiet Rotation, the CDA will work to prepare and submit a request to the FAA so that it can begin its environmental review process as soon as possible.

“The Interim Fly Quiet rotation is a critical part of the CDA’s mission to be a good neighbor and reduce noise exposure for the communities most heavily impacted as O’Hare’s airfield modernization continues,” said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans. “Looking ahead, we will continue partnering with the ONCC and with the FAA to ensure the Interim Fly Quiet rotation provides even greater predictability and quieter conditions for our neighbors.”

“As I have expressed previously, ONCC best serves all members if we adopt a regional approach,” Juracek said. “Considering the factors, I believe adopting an Interim Fly Quiet Plan Option A is the best course of action. I feel this option represents an equitable balance of relief to communities surrounding O’Hare.”

Mayor Juracek thanked the ad hoc Fly Quiet Committee, the CDA and its consultants, SOC and its consultants, FAiR, the FAA and ONCC members “for their time, commitment and suggestions to bring a balanced approach to abate nighttime aircraft noise to the O’Hare region.”

The FAA review will include a public participation process, during which ONCC as well as impacted communities will provide input. The FAA will accept written comments from the public and will host public workshops to share information and answer questions from residents. The FAA's analysis will disclose the impacts of the proposed plan, impacts without the proposed plan and possibly an additional alternative. The FAA will also determine if it can approve the proposal.

CDA staff noted that the rotation plan would be effected by pavement rehabilitation that will take place on Runway 4L-22R in 2019, and similar work on Runway 4R-22L planned for 2020.

ONCC is an inter-governmental agency representing over 2.1 million residents in 40 communities, 19 school districts and Cook and DuPage Counties, and is dedicated to mitigating aircraft noise from Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Option A

The O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) Ad Hoc Fly Quiet Committee voted today to recommend an Interim Fly Quiet plan to the full O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission membership.

Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) consultants presented three runway rotation options to the Committee, which ultimately chose Option A, essentially the same runway rotation plan that was followed in Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Test 3.

The Ad Hoc Fly Quiet Committee met on Monday, November 6. Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) consultants gave a summary presentation based on the draft report on Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Test 3. They requested that members submit any feedback to the CDA through ONCC Executive Director Jeanette Camacho by November 10 so the final report may be completed. 

At the November 3, 2017 General Meeting, the Chicago Department of Aviation consultants presented the September 2017 ANMS Report, members received a report from the Technical Committee and discussed the upcoming schedule for the Interim Fly Quiet Plan discussion.

NASA has concluded a flight test series to investigate technologies that may significantly reduce airframe noise for communities near airports.

The flights, which gathered data that will be used to examine the acoustic benefits of two NASA aeronautical technologies, were completed in October at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

Aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney recently completed more than 175 hours of ground testing of a next-generation Geared Turbofan (GTF) engine propulsor technology as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program, an FAA NextGen initiative to accelerate the development of environmentally-friendly aircraft technologies.

ONCC Vice-Chair Joe Annunzio, Technical Committee Chair Catherine Dunlap and Executive Director Jeanette Camacho attended the American Association of Airport Executives and Airport Council International of North America Airport Noise Conference in Savannah, Georgia on October 11, 2017.