Aug. 12, 2015

The O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP) will reach a major milestone on Oct. 15, when a new 7,500-foot runway (10R/28L) opens and the new FAA South ATC Tower, which will control its operations, is commissioned. Marking the completion of OMP Phase 2A, the opening of the new runway will increase arrival and departure capacity, a benefit to all operators that use the airport.

As the next step in converting Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to an east-west flow, the new runway contributes to the ongoing airspace changes that are enabling more efficient access to the satellite airports covered by O’Hare’s Class B airspace, said Mark Zakula, a principal member of the Chicago Area Business Aviation Association’s (CABAA) ATC Committee.

As a result of the OMP-related airspace changes, “for the first time ever we have southbound SIDs for all the satellite airports” – Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), DuPage Airport (DPA), Waukegan National Airport (UGN), Lewis University Airport (Chicago/Romeoville: LOT) and Aurora Municipal Airport (ARR). Other arrival and departure procedures to these airports are now being developed as work progresses on the final phase of the OMP.

The OMP was announced in 2001, about the time that the CABAA ATC Committee started working with the FAA to develop more efficient procedures for business aircraft operations at the satellite airports, said Zakula. After months of study, the committee offered suggestions what would improve business aircraft operations without adversely affecting traffic bound for O’Hare.

When CABAA’s ATC Committee started its work, Chicago was the only major metropolitan area without SIDs and STARs for its satellite airports, said Zakula. Some of the solutions the committee presented worked, and some didn’t.

According to the OMP website, building Runway 9C/27C is the primary effort of the project’s final phase. It will establish all the airport’s westbound departures, which will resolve the remaining SID and STAR issues.