FAA claims less airplane noise when new runway opens


Morley: take complaints to congressmen


By Dan McLeister

For The Elmhurst Independent

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials said there would be less airplane noise when a new runway is scheduled to open October 15th. But they did not say how much less noise.

During a meeting at Elmhurst City Hall on September 28th Paul Litke, FAA operations manager, said the new runway opening on October 15th would make operations at O’Hare Airport more efficient. The first priority is safety, he noted.

Arrival patterns over Elmhurst are about 7000 to 8000 feet, he explained, adding that the FAA does not measure airplane noise over 3000 feet.

Christiana Drouet, FAA regional executive manager, who said she is not a noise expert, explained that the noise contours around the airport are determined by a complex mathematical formula. The Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) represents noise as it occurs over a 24-hour period, with the assumption that noise events occurring at night (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) are actually ten decibels louder than they really are.

This ten-decibel number is applied to account for people’s greater sensitivity to nighttime noise, and the fact that events at night are often perceived to be more intrusive because nighttime ambient noise is less than daytime ambient noise. Drouet noted that different types of airplanes have different noise levels.

The FAA is beginning work on the next step in a multi-year Noise Research Program that will update the scientific evidence on the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports. That report should be completed in 2016 when it will be sent to Congress.

The current level of 65 DNL was set in 1982 as the number needed for home and school insulation programs with government funds. No areas in Elmhurst qualify because the noise level is lower than that figure.

“Is there any movement to reduce the number to 55 DNL?” Mayor Steve Morley asked.

“Yes, there is a movement afloat,” Drouet responded.

Morley commented that was another piece of good news after the first piece about the October 15th runway opening.

Also, Morley asked if there was any plan to phase out older noisier airplanes.

Drouet responded that some airlines are phasing out older engines.

Further, Morley asked how noise complaints from residents should be handled.

Drouet commented that the FAA does not handle noise complaints. But she added that “we are a resource if people have concerns.” She added that residents should contact their congressmen or the City of Chicago Aviation Department.

Morley made similar comments.

“When people are caught in red tape, they should go to their congressmen,” he said. “That is why there are elected officials.”