Noisy Chicago's O'Hare draws 3m complaints

Chicago may be the ‘Windy City’ but O’Hare is being labelled the ‘noisy airport’ with more than three million complaints by residents over the noise generated there so far this year.

O'Hare Airport in Chicago has been the subject of three million complaints over noise so far this year

O'Hare Airport in Chicago has been the subject of three million complaints over noise so far this year Image by Archangel12 / CC BY 2.0

To counteract the night-time disturbance, two different sets of flight paths have been proposed at a meeting of the Ad Hoc O’Hare Fly Quiet committee this week. City officials have opted for a parallel runway to the current one, report the Chicago Times, but a citizens group want heavier use of diagonal runways.

The biggest sufferers of the noise epidemic emanating from the airport are the homeowners who live to the west of O’Hare and experience 70% of the airport’s departures. A Department of Aviation consultant in the city believes they could get some relief by sending more outgoing flights off at an angle once they rise off the runway, allowing them to connect with flight corridors immediately over less densely populated districts. In one case, for example, night flights that now depart parallel Runway 28C and head straight to the west or angle to the south over Bensenville and Wood Dale would instead angle north.

Exactly which suburbs would be newly affected was difficult to determine because the aviation department’s consultant omitted the names of all suburbs and city wards from his map of recommended night departure flight paths.

Under the new city proposal there would be relief for residents on both sides of the airport by limiting it to just two runways – one for arrival and the other for departures – that would use a weekly or monthly rotation schedule from 11pm to 5am. However there was a feeling that current traffic would require more than just two runways to operate. But city consultant Doug Goldberg of Landrum & Brown made clear that current traffic requires more than a single arrival and departure runway during the hour immediately before and after Fly Quiet hours.

The representative from the Fair Allocation In Runway group (FAIR) stressed that the diagonal runways should be the night-time runways, to give residents on east and west areas some relief.


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