Chicago Executive Airport intends to launch a trial sound insulation program in what officials say would be an effort to help nearby residents most affected by jet noise.
If approved by the airport board later this month, an unspecified number of qualified property owners would receive free windows, doors and other new materials to reduce the noise. Airport Executive Director Jamie Abbott said it would start next year as a roughly $2.7 million effort mostly funded from a federal grant.
"Other airports have done this," Abbott said. "Usually, it's large airports. O'Hare has a program that they're still wrapping up. Midway has a program, but not very many general aviation airports like us really go down this road. The board thought it was important to be a good neighbor to the communities."
Chicago Executive, co-owned by Prospect Heights and Wheeling, has approval for a $2.5 million grant recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport must provide an additional 10 percent, $250,000, on top of the $2.5 million in federal cash.
Airport board members are expected to vote on the soundproofing program at a meeting Dec. 19. At an October meeting, Chicago Executive board Director Ray Lang, also a Wheeling trustee, said the plan is a "big deal" for his village and Prospect Heights.
"There's been vast support from the board to undertake a project that remedies sound concerns," airport board Chairman D. Court Harris said in an interview this week.
Decibel levels from passing jets using Chicago Executive, measured inside and outside a home, would be used as part of a process to determine which homes are eligible. Other factors would include a home's age and construction, Abbott said.
Last year, the airport board decided to pursue the soundproofing idea over other possible measures to help residents hit hardest by jet noise. Board members dropped a plan to steer nighttime airplane traffic away from nearby homes.
Chicago Executive handles about 80,000 takeoffs and landings each year, according to airport figures. That number includes corporate jets and turboprop aircraft used by Fortune 500 companies, along with smaller planes.
At Van Nuys Airport in the Los Angeles area, which is similar to Chicago Executive, a Quiet Jet Departure Program is used to reduce noise in the community. Using what Van Nuys Airport calls a "letter of commitment," jet operators agree to use quiet departure procedures not to exceed target decibel levels on takeoff.