July 22, 2014

Mayor Emanuel Announces Additional Airport Noise Monitors Near O'Hare International Airport

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) will work with the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) to acquire and install eight additional permanent airport noise monitors in City neighborhoods and suburban communities near O'Hare International Airport.

"As the O'Hare Modernization Program moves forward, some of our residents in Chicago and the surrounding communities are affected by changes in flight patterns, and we need to better understand the impact on them," said Mayor Emanuel. "These additional monitors will help us gather and process the data we need to do that."

Mayor Emanuel has charged the CDA to work with the ONCC, Alderman Michael Zalewski, Chairman of the City Council Committee on Aviation, and Alderman Mary O'Connor, Alderman Pat O'Connor, and Alderman Margaret Laurino to identify new noise monitor locations on existing and future flight paths near O'Hare, and then get those monitors installed as soon as possible.

The CDA currently has 33 permanent noise monitors surrounding O'Hare International Airport to capture noise from aircraft arrivals and departures, which is one of the largest monitor totals among airports worldwide.

The monitors are part of the CDA's Airport Noise Management System. Installed in 1996, the system allows the CDA to monitor the amount of aircraft noise generated over the communities surrounding O'Hare. The system collects, analyzes, and processes data from a number of sources including the permanent noise monitors, and correlates the noise data with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar data.

"Airport noise monitors are used throughout the country to report aircraft noise levels as a matter of public interest and to monitor trends in aircraft noise. "By adding monitors around O'Hare, the CDA will have even more information to share with the citizens living near those flight paths," said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino.

"ONCC appreciates Mayor Emanuel's support in our continuing efforts to evaluate shifting aircraft noise in communities near O'Hare," ONCC Chairman Arlene J. Mulder. "As the only viable forum regarding aircraft noise mitigation, ONCC welcomes this positive action as we continue to collaborate with the City of Chicago, other municipalities, lawmakers, and citizens to address aircraft noise."

The CDA uses several technical criteria to identify possible locations for new monitors, such as proximity to flight paths, distance from the approved noise contour, area of coverage by existing monitors, ambient noise levels in the proposed area, and access to utilities. After general areas are identified, the CDA works with the local communities to select precise locations. The CDA then orders the noise monitors, obtains local permits and approvals for the monitor installations, installs the monitors and integrates them into the existing system, and finally validates the data. The monitors will be funded with approved airport funds, and no local taxpayer dollars will be used for the project.

"I have been listening to the concerns of my residents regarding airport noise, and I want to ensure that these community concerns are addressed," said Alderman Mary O'Connor. "I look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Aviation, the ONCC, and my fellow aldermen to obtain better data on this issue and move forward appropriately for the residents of the 41st Ward."

"These monitors will enable us to ensure that noise levels are within the proper limits to protect our residents," said Alderman Margaret Laurino. "They are another effort by the city to curtail excessive sound disturbances caused by air traffic flight patterns."

"Some of our residents in the 40th Ward are struggling with aircraft noise," said Alderman Pat O'Connor. "I hear those concerns, and that is why I will continue working with my colleagues in the City Council, the Department of Aviation and the ONCC to identify the scope of these issues and balance the quality of life of residents in the 40th Ward with O'Hare's economic importance for our region."

The City of Chicago is a world leader in the noise mitigation of homes and schools near airports and has invested heavily in community infrastructure. Since 1982, the CDA has sound-insulated over 18,000 homes and 162 schools near O'Hare and Midway International Airports at a cost of over $800 million with approved airport funds and FAA grants.