Its proximity to Chicago as well as Milwaukee makes it convenient for southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois travelers.
Noise Abatement Program: The O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) is composed of a number of regional communities and school districts (too many to mention in this research). According to the ONCC 2009 Annual Report noise complaints were "six times higher in 2009 compared to 2008" (www.oharenoise.org). There is an Airport Noise Management System which "collects, analyzes and processes data from…33 noise monitors around O'Hare, FAA radar data, weather data and noise complaints" (ONCC Home Page).
Like other airports, there are certain runways at O'Hare that the airlines are encouraged to use at nighttime -- to reduce noise and disturbance for residents in nearby communities. Beyond receiving and responding to noise complaints, O'Hare's ONCC has approved a sound insulation policy that "targets qualified multi-owner dwellings" (Gilligan, 2009). The ONCC has been installing soundproofing in homes since 1997, Gilligan reports. And as of about a year ago, 6,954 homes and 115 schools have been insulated for sound (costing about $500 million). The next step for ONCC in terms of soundproofing homes is to begin helping multi-owner homes (condominiums) reduce the noise from air traffic.
Moreover, some airlines are buying assets that are quieter than previous versions. The ONCC reports that American Airlines (AA has a hub at O'Hare) will be moving to a quieter airliner in the near future. AA is replacing its fleet of MD-80 aircraft with "new, environmentally friendly Boeing 737-800 airplanes. "Residents living near O'Hare International can look forward to quieter aircraft overhead," the ONCC report states.
As further evidence that Chicago and O'Hare are doing everything possible to mitigate the noise that inevitably results from take-off and landing of big commercial jetliners, the O'Hare Community Noise Resource Center has posted "Noise Abatement Signs" at five locations around the airport. This is done "to notify pilots that noise abatement procedures are in effect" from 10:00 P.M. To 7:00 A.M. Central Daylight (and Central Standard) Time. Runways 32L, 27L, and 14R are those that are particularly problematic when it comes to noise disturbing nearby communities, according to www.flychicago.com.
Expansion Plans: O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP)
A major modernization program has been underway at O'Hare for several years. Called O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP), the program is Mayor Richard M. Daley's vision "for building a 21st century airport…at no coast to local or state taxpayers," according to www.cityofchicago.org. Three of the major projects are already completed: Runway 9L/27R has been extended and the North Air Traffic Control Tower. The Runway extension is underway; it is being modernized to accommodate the newer, larger aircraft like the Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus a-380. The program required a tremendous amount of preliminary moving of buildings, roads, houses, and there was a great deal of controversy during this process. The community of Bensenville has reached a deal with O'Hare and the City of Chicago and the demolition of many properties that have been acquired by Chicago has begun.
There were court cases brought against O'Hare by Bensenville and Elk Grove, which delayed the start of the project, albeit the OMP did get off the ground in September 2005. There is a lobbying group of citizens who are being displaced by the expansion called "Suburban O'Hare Commission"; their contention is that O'Hare should not have gone into a massive expansion program and instead Chicago should have built a completely new airport 45 miles south of Chicago at Peotone.
One of the main reasons for the urgency to expand the airport runways was a near-miss in August 2006, called a "runway incursion," this incident was avoided when the pilot of a Korean passenger liner swerved to avoid a Chinese transport plane; they missed each other by 75 feet.
Among the properties being disturbed by the OMP is the St. Johannes Cemetery. Graves are being dug up and -- while working closely with the next of kin of the deceased -- the city has purchased the cemetery (for $630,000) and is moving the graves. The cemetery was in the way of the construction of Runway 10C/28C. "The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) has developed a cemetery relocation plan and family assistance program to provide the utmost care and respect for the deceased and their surviving relatives. The CDA will pay necessary and reasonable costs associated with the cemetery relocation process" (Rodriguez, 2010).
Access to the cemetery during the disinterment process will be only for those family members of deceased. Meantime, for those deceased in the ground "who remain unspoken for" will be buried in a "nearby cemetery with a monument dedicated to their memory," Rodriguez writes in a press release (February 18, 2010). The court has appointed a "Special Master" to work with the St. Johannes church as to the disposition of those unnamed graves. As of February, 24 graves have been "voluntarily relocated to nearby cemeteries with the assistance of the CDA Cemetery Relocation and Family Assistance Program" (Rodriguez).
The OMP is scheduled to be completed by 2015, though some parts of the expansion won't be completed until 2018, according to www.airport-technology.com. The project is set to cost about $15 billion, and the airport officials insist no local or state tax money is involved, however, federal dollars are being used from the "Stimulus Package" passed by Congress in 2009, which of course is taxpayer money. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Mayor Richard M. Daley got a $12.3 million grant from the federal economic stimulus package.
Reasons for the upgrade include the fact that "all but one of the seven runways on the 7,300-acre airport intersect," and when bad weather hits the airport "more runways are being closed than if the runways were laid out in a better configuration" (Airport-Technology).
When winter weather or summer thunderstorms close down runways at O'Hare, it has a ripple effect; it can cause "major disruptions" in air travel throughout the country because of the number of flights that go through O'Hare. The expansion is expected to reduce delays due to weather by 79%; also, some $18 billion is expected to be pumped into the local economy due to the 195,000 jobs that the OMP has created. Whereas in 2004 O'Hare had 929,000 total aircraft operations, when the OMP is completed that number is expected to accommodate about 1.6 aircraft operations and up to 76 million "enplanements a year" (Airport-Technology).
Marketing Strategies: The recent announcement that United Airlines (which has its hub / main facilities at O'Hare) and Continental Airlines will soon merge -- creating the largest airline company in the world -- presents in itself a golden marketing opportunity. The deal means that "the city of big shoulders" will "gain important bragging rights: home of the world's largest airline," according to Julie Johnson, writing in the Chicago Tribune. Indeed, the deal brings to Chicago the potential to "reinforce its identity as a global corporate center" which means more than prestige; it also means jobs, Johnson writes.
There is caution in the wind however; "Airlines historically have not done so well with mergers," according to Rice University professor of management Scott Sonenshein. "It can create a lot of opportunities, but people tend to overstate the benefits and underestimate the risks" (Johnson, 2010). The two airlines offer 370 destinations. Chicago will benefit in terms of jobs through this deal; about 2,800 staff people will be working in the Willis Tower (where Continental recently leased 460,000 square feet thanks to $35 million in city subsidies (Johnson).
The merger also helps United rebound from its losses, including the loss of "tens of thousands of workers and hundreds of aircraft" since its downsizing starting in 2001. "The Continental merger provides the first real hope of reversing that trend," John writes.
Customs Innovations at O'Hare International Airport
The Global Entry Program has been established at O'Hare, allowing passengers from international flights to skip long passport-checking lines and "proceed almost directly to baggage claim," according to Josh Noel in the Chicago Tribune. For $100 and a copy of an individual's fingerprints, citizens flying into O'Hare from overseas can simply push both their index fingers to a glass pane, have a photo taken of them, answer brief questions, and then proceed. The Department of Homeland Security likes Global Entry because "it makes it easier to track who is coming into the country," Noel explains.
The "painfully long lines" that most international passengers have to wait in are a thing of the past for those passengers who have become part of the Global Entry Program.
Bibliography / Works Cited
AirNav.com. (2010). Chicago O'Hare International Airport / FAA Information Effective 08
April 2010. Retrieved May 4, 2010, from http://www.airnav.com/airport/ORD.
Airport Technology. (2009). O'Hare International Airport (ORD/KORD), Chicago, IL, USA.
Retrieved May 5, 2010, from http://www.airport-technology.com/projects/chicago/.
Airwise.com. (2010). Chicago O'Hare History / a Place for Heroes. Retrieved May 5, 2010,
Andolino, Rosemarie S. (2010). Welcome to the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA).