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Plan offering relief from jet noise to O’Hare neighbors to kick off in November

The plan will send jet planes over more communities to help share the burden of engine noise.

Jets at O’Hare Airport.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A plan that aims to equitably share the annoyance of roaring jet engines passing overhead in the middle of the night among communities surrounding O’Hare Airport is set to kick off in November.

The new plan, which goes into effect the evening of Nov. 3, seeks to accomplish the goal by rotating the runways used and alternating the direction planes are traveling on those runways on a weekly basis.

The plan — known as the Interim Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Plan — will run through May 2020 and then stop for few a months due to summer construction projects before picking up again from September 2020 to January 2021. It will account for overnight air traffic from about 10:30 p.m. to 5:45 a.m.

The plan is expected to be modified again in 2021 to account for new and extended runways that are part of the O’Hare Modernization Program.

The interim plan taking effect this winter was created by the Chicago Department of Aviation working alongside representatives of affected communities who sit on the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

The new share-the-pain philosophy replaces one that had been in place for years that concentrated overnight air traffic mainly to two east/west runways, meaning that communities east and west of O’Hare received the brunt of jet noise.

Under the new plan, parallel diagonal runways will also be used to create six runway configurations that will rotate each week.

The communities that will be taking one for the team on week one: Itasca, Wood Dale, Bensenville, Rosemont, Schiller Park, Norridge and Hardwood Heights, according to Arlene Juracek, who is mayor of Mount Prospect and chairs the commission.

In week two, diagonal runways will carry flights over Elmhurst, Northlake, Franklin Park, a small part of Bensenville, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Niles and Glenview, she said.

It will be up to individual municipalities to inform residents about the overnight flight rotation schedule, according to Aaron Frame, deputy commissioner of environment at the Chicago Department of Aviation.