December 22, 2000 Chicago Tribune



By Krystyna Slivinski
Special to the Tribune

December 20, 2000

Portable monitoring equipment will be set up in Barrington to track airplane noise, following complaints from residents who say the number of low-flying aircraft from O'Hare International Airport is increasing in their community.

"That's the data we'll pay close scrutiny to," said Brian Gilligan, executive director of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, which met Tuesday to discuss the matter.

Barrington officials are particularly interested in monitoring flights approaching O'Hare's heavily used 14 Right runway.

The commission's technical committee released a report Tuesday that detailed traffic for that runway on Nov. 1, a day of heavy use. Out of more than 400 arriving flights, the report noted that five were just over 2,500 feet above ground level when flying over the Barrington area.

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, flights in that area are supposed to be above 4,333 feet, but officials said pilots sometimes can get permission to fly as low as 1,833 feet.

The noise monitor, which will be paid for by Chicago, will stay in place for three months. It will be on the north side of Fox Point Subdivision, near where several residents have complained about air traffic noise.

The city's Aviation Department rotates three monitors among local communities. Harwood Heights has one of the monitors. Schaumburg also has requested one of the devices, which should be installed within weeks.

In other action, a report on the performance of 31 noise-monitoring sites around O'Hare was released to committee members.

The report by BBN Technologies of Canoga Park, Calif., focused on differences between "fixed" and "floating" noise-monitoring systems. A fixed system is programmed to record only certain decibel levels. A floating system ranges over a broader decibel spectrum.

Until March 1999, Chicago relied mainly on fixed systems, which were sometimes unable to distinguish between loud and soft sounds, which made it difficult to track noise from a single aircraft.

Over the last year, the city has replaced more than half of the monitoring sites with floating systems.

The BBN report found that since March the system's performance improved because of the increased use of floating monitors.