O'HARE — As the number of complaints about the racket caused by jets using O'Hare International Airport's new runway to continue to soar, federal officials Friday announced changes to the airport's flight path that could mean even more noise over some Far Northwest Side neighborhoods.
Federal Aviation Administrator Regional Administrator Barry Cooper told the O'Hare Noise Compatability Commission the need to reduce the chance of mid-air collisions between planes would change the path of several hundred flights that travel over Chicago neighborhoods every day.
The changes were required by the National Transportation Safety Board after five planes flew too close to each other, Cooper said. The changes were recommended at 15 airports, including O'Hare, although none of the incidents took place in Chicago.
Most jets will be directed to runways south of the airport's terminals, said FAA spokesman Anthony Molinaro. The ultimate path of the flights will be determined by wind and weather conditions, he added.
In March, 11,145 complaints were made to the city-run toll-free hotline, 50 percent more complaints than were filed in February and 645 percent more than the number of complaints filed in March 2013, before a new east-west runway opened in the fall.
Residents of Ald. Mary O'Connor's 41st Ward, which includes Norwood Park and Edison Park, filed the highest number of complaints of any Chicago ward, logging 1,634 objections to the sound of planes taking off and landing at O'Hare.
However, city aviation officials noted that nearly 40 percent of the 3,944 complaints filed by Chicago residents were filed from just five addresses.
Residents of the 45th Ward filed 889 complaints, while those in the 39th Ward filed 825 complaints.
Mark Korczynski, who has lived in Norwood Park for 34 years, said the noise from jets using the new runway has made his "quality of life go downhill" even though he installed new noise-canceling windows.
"The planes fly so low over the house, I can't sleep," Korczynski said. "There is one roar after another that will wake you right up."
Korczynski said he was concerned the noise would force him to keep his windows closed and air conditioning on all summer.
"That would be terrible," Korczynski said. "I want some fresh air."
Susan D'Alessandro, a member of Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition — a group that formed a year ago to object to the new runway at O'Hare — said she believes local and federal officials are discounting the huge increase in the number of complaints because a high percentage are coming from just a handful of people.
"Even without the complaints coming from the same address, three times as many people complained this March than they did last March," D'Alessandro said. "Some people are wondering what we have to do to get them to listen to us."
The changes designed to prevent mid-air collisions were implemented April 15, Cooper told the commission. The new flight pattern will be in place for three to six months while federal aviation officials evaluate other options, Cooper said.
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