In an about-face, Chicago is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to delay action that would cause "irreparable damage'' to diagonal runways slated for closure at O'Hare International Airport, officials said Monday.
The postponement would be in effect at least until the FAA conducts public meetings this summer about noise associated with O'Hare's ongoing airfield expansion project and after city officials meet with an anti-noise group.
That's according to a memorandum of understanding between the Chicago Department of Aviation and 13 members of the Illinois General Assembly that went into effect Friday. The Tribune obtained a copy of the document.
The Emanuel administration has until now refused to compromise on potential noise-abatement measures that would help diffuse jet noise by spreading out flights over more arrival and takeoff corridors. Using O'Hare's diagonal runways is one way to help scatter the volume of planes over a wider area, rather than the existing plan that funnels almost all airliners onto parallel east-west runways.
The memorandum of understanding follows passage by the legislature of a bill that authorizes O'Hare to operate up to 10 runways. The bill has been sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner. Existing state law limits O'Hare to eight runways.