Changes at O’Hare

Changes at O’Hare

The Chicago Department of Aviation has announced several proposed changes at O’Hare Airport that are intended to reduce the impact of noise, at least at night, on our area.

First, airport officials plan to rotate which runways are used for nighttime landings every couple of weeks, giving residents some reprieve from the near-constant nighttime noise some experience now.

Second, the department will work to have the “fly quite” procedures added to pilot procedure manuals and navigation charts, as well as adding fly quiet signage along runways, so that pilots are more aware of the procedure. Fly quiet procedures direct pilots to fly over less inhabited areas as weather permits.

Although federal law prohibits airports from making fly quiet mandatory, the department anticipates that further educating pilots about the procedures will increase compliance.

Department officials also anticipate that, when the O’Hare Modernization Plan is complete, the airport may be able to implement what is known as an “Optimized Profile Descent.” Conventionally, planes step down, then level off, as they approach the airport.

In an Optimized Profile Descent, planes would fly higher as they approach the airport and make one single descent to the runway. You can see a diagram of how this would work on page 9 of the department’s noise recommendations.

Unfortunately, department officials do not believe that they can keep the diagonal runways permanently open, despite a change in state law that allowed them to remain operational. Department officials believe the runways pose too much of a risk of aircraft colliding at the airport, and one of the runways conflicts with landing patterns at Midway Airport.

Find the full report, including supporting materials, at the department’s Plan to Address Noise Impact website.

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