Group approves 'Fly Quiet' plan to reduce jet noise around O'Hare

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The 'Fly Quiet' plan aims to reduce jet noise in the neighborhoods around O'Hare International Airport. (WLS)

More than 50 municipalities and school districts located near O'Hare International Airport voted Friday to approve a "Fly Quiet" plan, which could reduce jet noise for those around the airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration must still review and implement the plan.

"The noise from the airport is horrendous," said Mike Salerno, who lives on the Northwest Side.

The group, called the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, overwhelmingly approved the plan 45-5. The plan seeks to spread out the jet noise more evenly throughout the area.

"We all benefit from the airport so we all need to share a little bit in the pains as well as the gains," said Arlene Juracek, the mayor of Mount Prospect and commission chairwoman. "

The nighttime plan, developed by Chicago Department of Aviation with the help of community members, will be tested over a six-month period beginning in June or July. The jet noise will be more fairly distributed during the overnight hours - between 10:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. -- by rotating the runways planes use from week to week.

"They have been incredibly responsive to the concerns of the community," said Commission Ginger Evans, of the city's Aviation Department.

The group Fair Allocation in Runways, or FAIR, supports the plan but with reservations because of the plans use of the 14R/32L runway - which is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2018 as part of the airport's expansion.

"Be fair to everyone, not just a few should be alleviated from the air traffic problem," said John Walsh, of FAIR.

Other proponents of the plan include those representing city's Northwest Side who might end up hearing less noise. Northwest suburbs, such as Palatine and Des Plaines voted against the plan, saying the plan just shifts the problem to their area.

"When the landing lights come up, it lights up our houses and dishes shake," said Ald. Malcolm Chester, of Des Plaines.

In 2015, Chicago received more than 4 million noise complaints from people living near the airport. Complaints soared after O'Hare started shifting traffic from the older diagonal runways to newer, east/west ones.

Still, some say the plan is a move in the right direction.
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