In the National Airspace System, no airport is an individual island. Large or small, no matter where it’s located, its operations affect, to some degree, the rest of the system because it is a living organism in a state of constant movement. Naturally, these affects are more pronounced at the hub airports, like O’Hare International, that anchor the Class B airspace to the cities they serve.
Given their volume of traffic, the approach and departure paths first serve the needs of these hub airports, but in Chicago, for more than a decade the ATC Committee of the Chicago-area Business Aviation Association (CABAA) has worked with the FAA to more efficiently meet the needs of Chicago Executive and the other airports that surround O’Hare, including DuPage, Waukegan National, Lewis University, and Aurora.
CABAA formed the committee about the same time that the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP) was announced in 2001. With its transition to an east-west flow, changes to the Class B would come over time with these changes. The ATC Committee was formed to work with the FAA to develop efficient procedures for business aviation aircraft operations at the satellite airports, said Mark Zakula, the committee’s current chairman.
After months of study of the Center and TRACON procedures, the committee offered suggestions that improved business aircraft operations at Chicago Exec and the other satellite airports without adversely affecting the airplanes bound for O’Hare. Some of the solutions the committee offered worked, and some didn’t, but the FAA quickly understood and appreciated the work the committee invested in working toward a fair airspace solution.
When discussing an approach procedure for Chicago Exec, the committee suggested that rather than flying up the lake at 3,000 feet, that it might be better for all involved to fly over the Class B and then turn back. The business jets would be flying farther, but they’d be high and fast, which saves time and fuel and optimizes the need of both airports.
When the ATC committee started work, Chicago was the only Class B airspace without standard instrument departure and arrival routes for its satellite airports, said Zakula. “Now, for the first time ever we have southbound standard instrument departure procedures for all the satellites airports.” Other arrival and departure procedures to these airports are now being developed as work progresses on the final phase of the OMP.