Monitoring O'Hare Noise


Journal & Topics Reporter  

O’Hare Airport operations in July averaged 2,449 flights a day, of which about 50% were regional aircraft, 39.2% were narrow bodies (which include MD-80s and MD-90s), and about 8% were wide-bodies. 

July night operations (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) averaged 107 regional planes, 101 narrow bodies, 41 wide bodies and three general aviation fights.

Based on what Chicago Department of Aviation officials called unusual weather in a rainy July, some runways inherited heavier volumes of flights.

Complaints rose to 512,000 lodged in July, despite weather, new rotation noise patterns, and 10 days when the independent app that connects many complainants to the CDA website was not working.

Fifty-five percent of those complaints came from 22 addresses, CDA reported. Runway 10L-27R just south of the main terminals handled 31 percent of the departures, and was the only westward runway used for any significant outbound traffic.  Eastward departures were handled by these pairs: 9R-27L, 26%, just north of the terminals near the Kennedy; 10L-28R, 22% departing east; and the southwest bound leg of 4R-22L, the easternmost angled runway.

In comparison, the northern-most east-west runway 9L-27R, had incoming flights arriving from both east (16%) and west (20%); 9R-27L handled 23% of arrivals from the east; and 10V-28C, the second runway south of the main terminals, handled 23% of fights arriving from the west and 12 percent from the east.

Some runways had hardly any traffic during July in comparison.

Due to the rotation start-ups for overnight Fly Quiet II, some areas inherited more overnight hour flights. This will vary from week to week, until Christmas.

There are ways that residents can do their own checking, with the Flight Tracker now online.

There is a brief delay in posting data, but it can be played to show the actual flights over the Chicago area.

Complaints overall rose considerably in July, in part because the overnight rotations brought flights over areas which have experienced less noise since newer runways were built. The airport’s 42 noise monitors may show a better picture of how much noise is impacting their communities.

Noise levels are registered in decibel levels. Over the years 65 db has been the boundary line within which residents were anticipated to have too much noise.

However, Aaron Frame from CDA said that Chicago in its soundproofing over time has been using 60 db to determine what should be soundproofed, based on the anticipate noise contours that are expected to exist when the O’Hare Modernization Program build out is complete.

At Arlington Heights Monitor 1 (at the northern end of Busse Woods), the July 2016 db average noise level was 58.2 db, slightly up from 57.2 in July 2015. The 12-month average was 56.6.

In Des Plaines, Monitor 7 (near Oakton south of downtown) dropped to 51.7, compared with 51.9 last July; the average over the past year was 56.0. 

Des Plaines Monitor 8 (along the southeastern edge of the city, south of Touhy) has averaged 56.0 over the past year and was 56.0 in July, compared to 57.8 last July.

Rolling Meadows (Monitor 10) experienced more noise, with 58.5 this July, compared with 53.1 last July and averaging 54.0 over the year. Higher levels showed between May and July 2016. This monitor is along the Route 53 corridor, north of Woodfield.

Elk Grove Village has four monitors:
Monitor 12 (the residential area southeast of Busse Woods) averaged 64.2 in July, up from 59.6 last July, with an annual average of 62.2.
Monitor 13 (in the center of the industrial park) averaged 69.2 in July, compared with 68.4 last July; it averaged over the year at 67.9. This monitor's levels were high all year.
Monitor 14 east of Busse Woods, averaged 59.0 this July, compared to 60.6 in July 2015. The annual average was 60.5.
Monitor 34 (south of Busse Woods) measured 61.7 in July, compared to 57.3 last July; the average through the year was 61.2.

In Mount Prospect’s three monitors there were increases.
Monitor 20 (southwestern Mount Prospect) averaged 55,2 this July, compared to 54.8 last July; the annual average was 54. 
Monitor 21 (central Mount Prospect) was 56.1, compared to 52.7 last July. The annual average was 53.0. With the exception of January, noise registered at this monitor tended to be lower.
Monitor 37 (northeast, just east of Prospect Heights) measured 58.7, compared with last July’s 56.3 reading and the annual average of 52.6.

Rosemont’s Monitor 27 south of the single-family residential area, measured 70.2 in July, compared with 67.5 last July. The average was 69.1 for the year. 

Rosemont ranks second highest among July monitor readings, behind one of the Schiller Park monitors. However, it is down more than 5 db average noise since 1997. 

Rosemont has had planes landing above its residential area since O’Hare began landing from the east along the Kennedy Expressway decades ago.

Schiller Park’s northern Monitor 28 had the highest July noise totals, averaging 75.4. This is the highest monthly average in the past year at Schiller Park, and the highest recorder monitor average among all monitors this year.

Monitor 28, just south of the border from the Rosemont Theater, is in line with the two runway pairs immediately below the terminal core, 10L-28R and 10C-28C, and at the northern end of diagonal 4R-22L.

Park Ridge has four monitors. Its northern neighborhoods are within the surviving diagonal runway paths, while the southern part of the city is in the east-west flow. 

Monitor 24 is at the northern end of the city. The July average was 57.1, compared to last July’s average of 53.0; the annual average was 54.3.

Monitor 25 is close to Maine South High School. The July average noise was 63.3, compared to 61.6 last July; the annual average was 62.5.

Monitor 26 is in central Park Ridge west of Uptown. In July it averaged 58.9, compared to 57.8 in July 2015; the annual average was 58.0. In April and May the noise averages were above 59.0.

Monitor 33 is in the southeastern end of Park Ridge. In July the noise level average was 62.6, compared with 62.8 in July 2015; the annual average was 62.5.

In Chicago, the new Monitor 42 at Ebinger School, 7350 W. Pratt (Edison Park), is on the main approach for the Pratt-Belle Plaine runway corridor and should give some additional indications of approaching noise which will next pass over Park Ridge near Monitor 33. Monitor 42, in place for little more than a year, measured 61.5 in July, compared to 56.8 last July and the year’s average of 58.9.

Chicago Monitor 5, in the center of the Jefferson Park neighborhood, had a July average of 61.4, compared to 61.1 a year ago and an annual average of 60.4. There are no December 2015 statistics for that monitor.

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