Great Moves by Mayor Emanuel at O’Hare

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There are moments of great surprise in the world of aviation. The belowarticle and another recent action by Chicago’s Mayor qualify as shocks!

O’Hare is a major national, regional and local aviation asset. The Modernization Plan was controversial. The addition of substantial runway capacity and their placement in new directions had, it was argued, to increase noise in the neighborhoods. The increment of ORD to depart and accept flights, it was argued, exceeded the capacity of the already congested airspace (even post NextGen) to handle the added traffic. The FAA disagreed.

As the critics predicted, the noise impact has created problems in the surrounding communities. There has been increasing pressure from the US Representatives who are from those communities. The likelihood, that the FAA would respond to such requests years after the Environmental Impact Statement has been closed and completely litigated, is small under the prognosis of experts. The possibility that such an event would occur is further diminished when one recognizes that the Landlord of O’Hare, a/k/a the Mayor of Chicago, was President’s Chief of Staff.

The unusual circumstance is a letter from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to FAA Administrator Huerta urging that the agency speed up a study, due to be completed by December 2015, that could reduce the noise. He cites good science, intergovernmental cooperation and sound policy to resolve this nettlesome problem. Technically, it is possible that such a study could recommend reductions in flights in certain areas or possible procedures which would prefer use of certain departures/landings during sensitive hours.

The Mayor’s stature as a leader is increased by this action and further enhanced when he announced that selection of the next Director of Aviation, a position which has been a plumb for local politics, would be performed by a committee headed by a Republican. (Note: Mary Rose Loney is an exception to this general rule).

Quite a statesman, Mayor Emanuel!

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