The Chicago Department of Aviation's Airport Noise Management System recently revealed that noise complaints near the international airport are at an all time high. An official report cites that 63 percent of the 39,000 complaints in January came from just six addresses.
In accordance with the Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (Public Law 108-176), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is required to "make noise exposure and land use information from noise exposure maps [prepared under 14 CFR part 150] available to the public via the Internet on its website in an appropriate format."
In 1996, Chicago created the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) as a policy-making group to oversee noise management efforts around O'Hare International Airport. The ONCC is comprised of representatives of communities located within the O'Hare area. This means that decisions about how noise reduction money is spent will reflect the concerns of the communities that are most affected by aircraft noise.
The ONCC makes recommendations to the City of Chicago regarding noise reduction programs at O'Hare such as the Fly Quiet Program, the Sound Insulation Programs, and the Airport Noise Management System (ANMS).
The Chicago Department of Aviation's Airport Noise Management System (ANMS) is a comprehensive system to provide actual measurement of the aircraft noise levels in Chicago neighborhoods and suburban communities around O'Hare and Midway. This integrated system includes many components, including a network of 32 permanent noise monitors that measure the noise environment and a system directly connected to the FAA's air traffic control radar that collects aircraft flight tracks. More than 5 million data points are recorded and stored by the system each day.
Each month the ANMS publishes a report to the public summarizing pertinent information from that data concerning the noise levels and operations at the Airport. According to the most recent report for January 2015, a total of 39,500 complaints were submitted for the single month. This is up slightly from December's totals of 32,959 and up dramatically from January the previous year with only 6,321 complaints.
So here's the interesting part. Some more specifics from January's report include a breakdown of complaints by neighborhood:
5,677 of 7,771 complaints in Bensenville came from 1 address.
4,306 of 9,772 complaints in Chicago came from 1 address.
1,770 of 2,340 complaints in Elk Grove Village came from 1 address.
11,155 of 11,373 complaints in Norridge came from 1 address.
2,079 of 6,811 complaints in Wood Dale came from 2 addresses.
That's 24,987 complaints from just six addresses and 11,155 complaints from one address in the period of one month is quite amazing. That's roughly 360 complaints per day on average including weekends.
There are two official ways to submit a complaint including by telephone and online. The online form has six required fields to submit a complaint and takes approximately 1 minute to complete, but maybe longer if optional fields are filled in. That would equal six hours of complaint filing per day assuming no breaks were taken. I'm not sure how well it pays, but that seems like terrible full time employment. It can only be assumed that this is the work of a highly deranged individually or a repurposed spam bot.
The problem clearly isn't about airplane noise, but the fact the the online complaint system doesn't employ a Captcha or some other form of human detection system.
The report from previous months have a very similar consistency, with the majority of complaints coming from the vocal minority.
Local ABC affiliate reports that residents have testified at a noise commission meeting over noise concerns. Some say they're battling insomnia and depression because of the noise and that the problems started after the new runway opened in 2013.
Airport noise has been the focus of heated debates among cities across the countries spanning many decades. As a result noise abatement procedures have been put in place for most urban airports that require pilots to use designated runways and flight tracks and sometimes specific climb gradients to keeps noise level away from populated areas.
Chris is a pilot who loves airplanes and cars and his writing has been seen on Jalopnik. Contact him with questions or comments via twitter or email.