FAiR Policy Statement – O’Hare

 The O’Hare Modernization Plan (OMP) Project includes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) changes to landing and takeoff patterns that took effect October 17, 2013. The OMP drastically increases air traffic over both North and Northwest (NW) Chicago and the near NW suburbs by shifting airplane traffic that formerly arrived and departed from many directions, into landings and takeoffs from mainly two directions: East and West, directly over the densely populated areas of North/NW Chicago and the near NW suburbs. In its current phase, roughly 55% of nighttime departures are on routes directly over the near NW suburbs, and roughly 70% of nighttime arrival routes are directly over the N/NW side of Chicago (source: Chicago Department of Aviation ANMS Report 12/2014).¹

This massive shift in airplane traffic has put the burden of noise, fuel, air and visual pollution almost solely on the residents of North/NW side Chicago neighborhoods and near NW suburbs. Nearly all these communities predate O’Hare’s conversion to a commercial airport in the 1950s and this shift is neither necessary nor desirable. This concentrated increase in airplane traffic has negatively impacted the health and quality of life for residents and businesses on the North/NW side of Chicago and near NW suburbs.

The Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR) Coalition (www.fairchicago.org) proposes the following solutions:

  1. Maintain and utilize all existing and new runways, including both sets of diagonal runways.
  1. Immediately halt the October 2013 landing and takeoff plan. Devise, instead, a neighborhood-based plan, working with community groups, businesses, the CDA, FAA, SOC and ONCC for an equitable distribution of air traffic among existing and new runways: north/south, east/west, day/night, city/suburb.
  1. Make the Fly Quiet program the official mandatory policy for O’Hare.²
  1. Expand noise monitoring and abatement programs to ensure specific communities are not unduly burdened.
  1. Conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) to verify what the actual, lived impacts since October 17, 2013 are from the new plan. Significant changes have occurred since the original EIS was done in 2005 and this must be addressed.³

Sign the FAiR Online Petition to halt the current takeoff and landing plan

and more fairly allocate air traffic among new and existing runways.


(Scroll down to the “Sign Petition” button)

1The new OMP condenses O’Hare air traffic to three main runways: 9R/27L (Thorndale), 10L/28R (Lawrence), and 10C/28C (Wilson). In addition, the project intends to ultimately shift 85% of all nighttime landings to routes directly over the North/Northwest side of Chicago.²  Fly Quiet is currently a voluntary program that encourages pilots and air traffic controllers to use designated nighttime preferential runways and flight tracks that direct aircraft over less populated areas, such as forest preserves, highways, and industrial areas. (source: Chicago Department of Aviation [CDA])³  A SEIS is needed for the following reasons:

  • The current method for determining if sound level from planes is high enough to qualify for soundproofing is based on averaging sound over a 24-hour period (DNL–Day-Night Level), which does not accurately reflect the stress of noise to area residents.
  • The noise contour has not been updates since the 2005 EIS “Record of Decision” (ROD) for O’Hare modernization. An update is required at the end of the modernization plan plus five years, which tentatively puts this update at 2025. Homes outside the current EIS contour that are experiencing greatly increased levels of noise and frequency of flights, will not be offered soundproofing until that time.
  • The loss of hundreds of thousands of ash trees since 2005 was not addressed in the 2005 EIS, which cited suburban, urban and Cook County Forest Preserve District trees as a component of the air and noise pollution mitigation. The loss of these trees is significant. According to a study completed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Chicago trees alone save taxpayers millions of dollars in energy savings as well as reducing pollution. (Gen. Tech. Rep. NE_186, 1994)
  • Carbon dioxide emissions from jet aircraft are not included in the 2005 EIS and are not regulated.
  • Ozone and particulate matter measured and reported in the 2005 EIS are now well above current EPS standards.
  • The FAA’s NextGen technology will allow for more planes to land and take off on each runway, concentrating noise into a virtual railroad track in the sky from approaching or departing runways.

Register aircraft noise complaints with the CDA in 1-click!

Find the FAiR-created noise complaint 1-click app at www.fairchicago.org

and bookmark it on your computer.


(City residents can also call 311, suburban residents can call 800-435-9569)

JOIN FAiR! Get involved! Make your voice heard over the roar of the planes!

Click the “Join Us” button at www.fairchicago.org