What Alderman Laurino is Doing About Airplane noise

October 3, 2014

Alderman Laurino is a member of a working group that meets to determine how to handle the noise level and changes that can be made to minimize the noise level.  Members of the working group include Alderman Mary O’Connor (41st Ward) and Alderman Patrick O’Connor (40th Ward), Mayor Emanuel’s office, the Chicago Dept. of Aviation (CDA) and Congressman Mike Quigley.

From these meetings, the following options are being investigated:

Noise monitor deployments:  Noise monitors provide critical data to the FAA by measuring the noise levels in a community.  Alderman Laurino was successful in getting a noise monitor installed at North Park Village earlier this year.  Mayor Emanuel recently announced that eight new noise monitors will be installed this year and Alderman Laurino is working with the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) to acquire and install additional monitors in and near the 39th Ward.

Review of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Noise Standards:  The FAA determines the threshold for noise levels.  Currently the standard is 65 DNL (Day-Night Sound Level).  This standard needs to be revisited and revised.  Alderman Laurino is working with Congressman Quigley to encourage the FAA to review the standard and lower the DNL level to 55 DNL.

Why should we care about the DNL threshold?  To qualify for federal soundproofing assistance, a community must measure 65 DNL or higher on the noise monitor readings.  The 39th Ward currently measures about 57 DNL on noise monitors.  If the threshold was lowered to 55 DNL, 39th Ward residents may qualify for federal soundproofing assistance.

To urge the FAA to revisit the DNL threshold, Alderman Laurino is sponsoring a referendum on this November’s ballot giving Chicago voters an opportunity to send a strong message to Congress asking them to require the FAA to revisit the criteria for noise mitigation and soundproofing assistance. 

Fair distribution of flights.  We’re encouraging the FAA to look at a couple of options:

1.      Currently, flights are arriving on four east/west runways every day.  Can the flights arrive on one runway a month, rather than being spread around to the four different runways?  The advantage to this is that the noise disruptions would also be spread out.  While the noise wouldn’t be eliminated, it would occur once a month, instead of every day.

2.      The FAA has one air traffic tower open at night.  Would opening an additional air tower allow a more equitable distribution of flights? 

3.      Plans call for the current diagonal runways to be closed and all flights to arrive and depart on the east/west runways.  We’re asking the FAA to explore the feasibility of keeping the diagonal runways open to help fairly distribute flights.

Phase-out of aircraft:  Airlines are in the process of phasing out their noisiest airplane and replacing them with newer aircraft.  The MD-80 aircraft is the loudest commercial airplane and is in the process of being phased out. 

Encourage people to call 311 to register complaints:  Please call 311 with noise complaints.  The more calls from this area, the more attention we get.  If possible, please call at the time of the noise, or record the time that the noise occurs and report that to 311.  This is important because the CDA can match the noise compliant to a specific arriving/departing aircraft if they know the exact time of the complaint.