Panel to decide on runway plan


The O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission will vote at its meeting on March 10 on a second and modified 6-month test of the "Fly Quiet" runway rotation plan that would distribute flights at night through the use of parallel and diagonal runways at O’Hare International Airport.

The commission’s Ad Hoc Committee at its meeting Feb. 8 recommended the second runway rotation test proposed by the city Department of Aviation. The test will feature five configuration modifications from the original test, which took place from July through December.

The current voluntary "Fly Quiet" program encourages pilots and air traffic controllers to use flight tracks that direct planes over forest preserves, highways and commercial and industrial areas to mitigate noise in residential areas.

Two of the configuration changes are based on comments by the Federal Aviation Administration, two are based on rearranging heavy runway use, and one is based on a desire to reduce the number of mixed-use and single-runway configurations. All the proposed configurations have been reviewed by FAA and have been tentatively determined as feasible to implement, according to the noise commission.

The two original configurations that the FAA had issue with included one under which aircraft taxiway movements on the ground conflicted with 9 Right arrivals in the air, and one under which 10 Center departures needed to taxi across an active runway, the commission said.

The goals of the rotation plan are to provide near-term noise relief, reduce noise in the most affected communities and provide predictability by publishing a rotation schedule that allows residents to predict periods of relief to the extent possible, according to the commission.

The criteria for the new test, like the original, include establishing a rotation plan, alternating east and west flow, avoiding consecutive community effects, reducing the use of Runway 10 Left and 28 Right, and including Runway 15 and 33, which is a diagonal runway.

The committee received the final draft report on the 2016 runway test at its Feb. 8 meeting.

Data from the first test showed that 67 percent of operations during the "Fly Quiet" runway rotation period used a designated runway. The average time in overnight "Fly Quiet" rotation over the 25 weeks was 7 hours, with an average start time of 10:42 p.m. and stop time of 5:42 a.m.

Ten configurations were used in the test, which alternated between the use of parallel and diagonal runways. The average number of arrivals and departures during "Fly Quiet" operations was 97 flights.

The Runway 28 Right configuration was used for departures and arrivals 73 percent of the time, Runway 28 Center for departures and Runway 27 Left configuration for arrivals were used 62 percent of the time, diagonal Runway 33 for departures and diagonal Runway 22 Right configuration for arrivals were used 57 percent of the time, diagonal Runway 22 Left for departures and Runway 22 Right for arrivals were used 53 percent of the time, and Runway 28 Center for both departures and arrivals was used 50 percent of the time.

Runway 28 Center and Runway 33 were used the heaviest for departures during the test, and Runway 22 Right was used the most for arrivals. During regular "Fly Quiet," Runways 28 Center, 28 Right and Runway 33 were used the most for departures and Runway 28 Center, Runway 22 Right and Runway 27 Left were used the most for arrivals.

The city Department of Aviation also presented resident responses on the "Fly Quiet" runway rotation test survey, which was made available to the public via the department’s Web site. The results show that 51 percent of the total survey respondents believe that the test should continue.

There were 6,160 survey responses submitted from 3,837 unique IP addresses, including 1,666 from Bensenville, 746 from Chicago, 560 from Elmhurst, 511 from Glenview, 410 from Park Ridge, 289 from Palatine, 284 from Arlington Heights, 208 from Wood Dale, 188 from Downers Grove, 187 from Mount Prospect, 181 from Elk Grove Village and 138 from Bloomingdale.

Responses from the Northwest suburbs included 70 responses from Des Plaines, 59 from Norridge, 22 from Harwood Heights, 19 from Schiller Park, 16 from Niles, and three each from Lincolnwood, Elmwood Park and Skokie.

According to the department, 26 percent of the respondents are age 40 to 49, 91 percent live in a single-family home that is older than 50 years old, and 32 percent have lived in their homes for more than 20 years.

According to the department, 96 percent of respondents said that other than airplane noise their communities are quiet, 54 percent said that they go to sleep between 10 and 11 p.m., 85 percent said that planes fly from O’Hare directly over their residences, 57 percent said that noise levels have improved during the test, and 51 percent would like the test to continue.

The commission will meet at 8 a.m. Friday, March 10, at Cafe La Cave, 2777 S. Mannheim Road, Des Plaines.