Aircraft landing on runway

FAA representative shares vision of OMP

By Dee Longfellow

For The Elmhurst Independent

Last week, the Independent reported that the City of Elmhurst had scheduled a public meeting at City Hall to discuss the Chicago Department of Aviation’s Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Program (RRP) on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

The public meeting was requested due to the recent 100% increase in nighttime airplane noise affecting specific areas of Elmhurst. Christina Drouet, FAA Acting Regional Administrator for the Great Lakes, came to City Hall to speak before an audience of about 60 people, including Mayor Steve Morley and several aldermen.

The test was implemented to analyze the shared impact of aircraft noise in neighborhoods surrounding O’Hare Airport. The RRP Tests encourage pilots and traffic controllers to use designated nighttime runways. The tests are analyzed along with community feedback, including a survey designed for the RRP.

There’s good news in the immediate future

First, the good news… the most recent Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Test #3 concludes Oct. 14. Elmhurst residents should enjoy quieter nights and sounder sleep.

The better news… Drouet said no further testing would be done for at least a year. She added that analysis of the first three tests could take as long as one to three years. Several aldermen have asked for results of the most recent tests, but have been told they are unavailable. Drouet said it takes a great deal of time for a thorough analysis of all the data.

She explained exactly what was going on at O’Hare, especially with the O’Hare Modernization Plan (OMP), using a diagram of the airport on the overhead. Drouet pointed out where the runways were, where a new runway could go, which would be decommissioned, and information about rotating different runways.

“Currently there are six east-west runways and two that are toward the northeast,” she said. “There is also a diagonal runway which is necessary because sometimes wind conditions make it tough to use east-west runways.

“Runway 1530 will be decommissioned next year. The last runway in the O’Hare Modernization Plan (OMP) is scheduled to be completed by 2020.”

Drouet made the point that safety was the #1 primary concern.

During the question & answer portion of the presentation, she addressed a query about the environmental impact statements.

“We look at where the primary impacts are and how can we reduce those impacts,” she said.

Also being considered is providing sound insulation for homes which are affected by airport noise, as has been done for Elmhurst schools in the past.

Mayor Steve Morley was impressed.

“The presentation was very informative, I’d like all of our residents to hear it,” he said. “The explanation was the most detailed presentation I’d ever heard about O’Hare Airport and I hope everyone takes advantage of the information made available, most of which can be found at the City’s web site.”

The mayor indicated that the program had been recorded and he believes it will soon be available to the public. The Independent will report the exact details when they become available.

Where do we go from here…

For more information, the public is invited to visit the City’s web site at elmhurst.org. The home page immediately shows where people can voice their concerns about the 100% increase in airplane noise.

There is a 5-minute survey available at elmhurst.org/voiceconcern. The City is advising residents to answer “No” to questions 15 and 21. Question 15 asks, “Would you like a nighttime Fly Quiet Runway Rotation to be in place from Spring 2018 until Fall 2020?” Question 21 asks roughly the same question.

The City urges all residents to participate in the survey, even if they are not directly affected by airport noise.

“By voicing your concern, you are supporting fair distribution of night time air traffic that minimizes the current noise impact on residents in our community,” the web site reads. “Even if this issue does not impact you, helping your fellow neighbors will improve the entire community.”

Also from the City’s web site, there are links to several other places that offer explanations and more information. One connects to airportprojects.net. Another leads directly to the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) site, which offers a great deal of information about O’Hare Noise Management including “Noise 101,” the Fly Quiet Runway Rotation effort, sound insulation programs and additional resources. It is a good place to start if you were unable to attend the presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

 

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