Saturday, November 26, 2016

Suburban O’Hare Commission: Overnight Noise Complaints Down

Aviation experts hired by the Suburban O’Hare Commission (SOC) who played a key role in developing O’Hare Airport’s nighttime Runway Rotation Plan (RRP) say nighttime aircraft noise complaints fell as the rotation program was brought online, while other aircraft noise complaints rose.

“The JDA analysis found that the RRP test was a tremendous success. Overall, during the RRP, communities experienced less noise, fewer overflights, and this resulted in less noise complaints during the overnight period than the year before. Overnight complaints fell despite overall aircraft noise complaints otherwise increasing dramatically,” a statement issued by SOC on Monday, Nov. 21, said.

The JDA study, using O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) data, found during the initial rollout of the 12-week RRP testing program, which began in July, that overnight aircraft noise complaints were down 10% compared to the same period in 2015. Aircraft noise complaints during non-overnight periods, when the RRP was not in effect, saw noise complaints rise by 32% compared to the same period in 2015, the study says.

Elk Grove Village Mayor and SOC Chairman Craig Johnson said the uptick in overall noise complaints is understandable, as the airport has seen an overall increase in flight operations.

An ONCC official speaking on background said unusual weather conditions in July and August may have shifted flight patterns over areas less accustomed to aircraft noise.

The RRP program designates just two runways be used for all flights during overnight “fly quiet” hours. Those runways rotate, using only two for a period of one week at a time.

Johnson said those overnight fly quiet hours are increasingly being shortened to between after 11 p.m. to about 5 a.m.

Because of increasing flight operations, Johnson doubted morning hours could be pushed any later, but said he is working to see evening fly quiet hours start closer to 10 p.m.

The RRP program results in more concentrated noise flying over individual communities for one-week periods, but disperses noise more evenly across the region overall.

The program is set to end after two, 12-week rotations at the end of this year. Johnson said he wants to see the program “tweaked” and extended at least into 2017 or in perpetuity.

“We are grateful for the City of Chicago Department of Aviation, the ONCC, and the FAA for

trying something new and innovative. We are also grateful that ONCC and CDA have allowed

our experts to analyze the data and for working closely with SOC on these important solutions,” Johnson said in a written statement.

JDA officials discussed their findings at a Friday, Nov. 18 SOC meeting. A brief outline of the findings was released Monday. The full 150-page JDA report was expected to be released either yesterday (Wednesday) or Friday this week. The full report had not been released as of Journal press deadlines Wednesday.


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