Winger & McAuliffe introduce Fly Quiet resolution

Reps. Christine Winger and Michael McAuliffe introduced HR500 this week, a measure that would reward airlines for utilizing voluntary federal Fly Quiet protocols when landing at and departing from O’Hare International Airport.

The Fly Quiet Program was adopted by the City of Chicago in 1997 to reduce the noise impact on residents living around O’Hare airport. Currently, pilots and air traffic controllers are encouraged, but not mandated, to use Fly Quiet designated runways and flight tracks during nighttime hours. These routes direct aircraft over less-populated areas, such as forest preserves and highways, as well as commercial and industrial areas to reduce the impact of noise on residential neighborhoods.

However, the most recent Fly Quiet report released by the Chicago Department of Aviation shows compliance is sporadic at best. Because Fly Quiet is voluntary, pilots and air traffic controllers are not required to use the designated runways and flight paths that would reduce noise for area residents.

“The reconfigured runways at O’Hare have caused significant hardship on residents living in its shadow,” said Winger. “After discussions with City of Chicago and O’Hare officials, it became clear that we have to find creative solutions to both guarantee the safety of the flying public and at the same time encourage the use of Fly Quiet at O’Hare.”

Winger believes one solution to increase Fly Quiet adherence without jeopardizing safety is to provide the proper motivation. HR500 calls for a trusted third party to collaborate with O’Hare officials to rank airline compliance with Fly Quiet guidelines. It then requires officials to take the compliance ranking into consideration when allocating departure gates. Airlines that regularly adhere to Fly Quiet, when it is safe to do so, will be rewarded with favorable departure gate assignments for passenger flights. Or, in the case of air freight, the assignment of support facilities. Exclusive departure gate assignment is essential to the operations of airlines, allowing for priority access to a gate without sharing it with other airlines.

“The Chicago Department of Aviation and the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission have long been collecting data about aircraft noise and compliance to Fly Quiet,” explains Winger. “It is now time to put it to good use.”