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For the calendar year 2017, O’Hare had close to 175K operations from the hours of 10PM to 6AM. That approximates to over 14K commercial and cargo arrivals and departures on a monthly basis (or 450 daily), during the overnight hours. For 2017, roughly 165K complaints (or 14K per month) were logged by residents as a result of these operations.

Night flying restrictions, commonly known as overnight curfews, are common at European airports. Night flying restrictions are regulations or laws by governing bodies to limit human exposure to jet noise during the night hours, when the majority of residents are trying to sleep. These regulations include restrictions to available flight paths, prohibiting takeoffs and landings, and preventing ground operations such as taxiing and engine run-up’s.

At London airports, night restrictions for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are implemented through quotas. The noisiest types of aircraft may not be scheduled to depart or arrive (other than in the most exceptional circumstances, such as an emergency landing). In addition, movements by most other types of aircraft are restricted by discrete limits and a noise quota, which are set on a seasonal basis.

Most airports in Germany have restrictions and curfews during the night. Frankfurt International Airport, for example has a total ban on scheduled aircraft movements between 11PM and 5AM, and during the morning (5AM-6AM) and evening periods (10PM-11PM), a limited number of flights are allowed, providing they comply with European Union noise regulations. Stricter restrictions apply to noisier aircraft.

At O’Hare, United and American tend to overschedule flights, regularly causing delays at the end of the day. Arrivals scheduled for 10 PM and 11PM, land well after midnight. Further, the now discredited O’Hare Overnight Fly Quiet program is unsustainable without the use of the decommissioned 15/33 diagonal runways. Overnight residential noise impact has become so massive that immediate implementation of demand management curfew strategies (similar to Frankfort and London airports) are critical going forward.

In the near term, the FAiR NFP Operations Committee is discussing options for gathering municipal support for an overnight curfew. This will include drafting a letter of support from residents of municipalities and Chicago wards to leverage their local, state and federal elected officials to mandate the minimum following initiatives:

  • Make Fly Quiet mandatory as previous arranged in late 2016/early 2017

  • Restrict all runway operations from 12PM - 5AM

  • Limit operations from 10PM – 12AM and 5AM – 7AM to one arrival and one departure runway

  • Airlines need to schedule arrivals long enough before 11PM so that if delayed they can land before 11PM. Substantial penalties must be imposed and enforced to incentivize airlines to streamline their schedules, so that operations beyond 11PM never occur.

In the long term, it will be critical for FAiR NFP to work with our congressional leaders to revise federal law, specifically the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA).

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