Hinsdale airplane noise study underway

Hinsdale officials and residents are continuing to monitor noise from planes using Midway Airport.

Noise complaints for the first quarter of 2023 were down 12 percent compared to the first quarter of 2023, despite a 24 percent increase in operations, Ryan Anderson reported at the April 27 meeting of the Midway Noise Compatibility Commission. Anderson is the managing consultant at Landrum & Brown, an aviation consulting firm.

Hinsdale generated 191 of the 686 total complaints for the quarter, the highest of any community except Palos Park, with 222. Western Springs came in third with 124. The complaints are tracked by household, with four Hinsdale households filing complaints in January, three in February and two in March.

"Those complaints are mostly associated with the 13C arrival procedure," Anderson said. "That runway was used no more than 5 percent of the time throughout the quarter.

"When it is used, it does cause annoyance for those community members," he added.

Hinsdale has had a seat on the commission since the village approved intergovernmental agreements with the city of Chicago to join in February 2022. Hinsdale village manager Kathleen Gargano asked if the altitude of planes approaching Midway has changed since 2013.

"That's a good question," Anderson responded. "We'd have to go back to the (Federal Aviation Administration) and check."

Gargano noted the runway has been used at the same percentages for years.

"And then something happened where the noise increased," she said.

On Gargano's request, a portable noise monitor was installed in Hinsdale and has been gathering data.

"I think we're about halfway through the deployment, and we're going to follow up with a comprehensive report that will hopefully answer a lot of these questions," Anderson said.

Hinsdale resident John Schmidt, who spoke during the public comment section after the meeting adjourned, posed several questions of his own. After studying the altitude of planes approaching Midway, he estimated the ones flying over his house are at 1,600 feet.

"The planes are flying at an altitude that wasn't approved by the FAA in 2013," he said. "How this happened, I don't know, but it causes all the complaints."

He distributed a 40-page packet to commissioners and indicated the Chicago Department of Aviation should tell the Federal Aviation Administration it is not willing to use runway 13C.

"Sir, we're not going to shut down the runway," responded Aaron Frame, deputy commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation. "We're not going to do that."

Schmidt then asked for an investigation as to why planes are flying at such low altitudes. Commissioners offered no response to his request.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean