Category Archives: business aviation

Airport Considers Noise Abatement Procedure


PWK noise test map 7-2016

Runway 34 departure procedure proposes aircraft fly a 310 heading for a short while after takeoff.

Just ahead of next week’s quarterly airport noise committee meeting – March 9 at 6:30 pm – Executive Director Jamie Abbott is asking users for comments about a potential noise abatement procedure the airport is considering. The airport may ask for the procedure to be tested at night for a six-month trial period, to obtain public input on the noise associated with northbound nighttime PWK departures on residents north of PWK.

The procedure, included in previous Part 150 Noise Studies, would propose that turbine-powered aircraft departing runway 34, from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM, to fly a 310 degree heading as soon as practicable after takeoff.

Aircraft would climb on this heading until reaching Lake Cook Road before proceeding on course, or to comply with further instructions issued by Chicago Departure Control. VFR aircraft would be asked to comply when able and with PWK tower approval.

The trial period would run daily between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM.

The airport would like to hear what users think before the airport requests the six-month trial from the FAA. Send your comments to Jamie Abbott at

If you’re not already a subscriber to the PWK airport news feed, add your e-mail in the subscription box on our Home Page.

EMAS: It Just Works

EMAS FalconIt seems as if it was just a few months ago that we published a story explaining that the airport’s new engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) was operational.

Actually, come to think of it, we did just write that story in November, explaining the safety benefits of a new EMAS now stationed at each end of the long, essentially north to south, runway 16/34.

The EMAS was installed after the FAA published a requirement for a safety barrier at each end of the runway at most airports. Unfortunately, Chicago Executive airport is land-locked with no extra open space to simply lay down an extra 1,000 feet of concrete at each end, of the runway to create that barrier, known as a Runway Safety Area. EMAS was the next best option.

In the early morning hours of January 26, just three months after the final EMAS work was completed, a Falcon jet pilot had trouble stopping his aircraft as he landed to the south from over Wheeling.

As the pilot approached the crushable EMAS blocks at the south end of the airport near Palatine Rd., the barrier performed precisely as it was designed. The blocks began to crumble under the weight of the 20,000 lbs. airplane and halted the aircraft in about 150 feet, preventing it from entering nearby Palatine Road. Neither of the two pilots was injured and damage to the aircraft was minimal. The aircraft has since flown out of the airport and back to its home base in Michigan. The reason the pilot was unable to stop is still under investigation by the FAA.EMAS still

What’s really important about this story though is that the EMAS worked perfectly in January and brought the airplane to a safe stop with only minor damage. While an EMAS installation is not cheap, the Falcon pilots, as well as everyone in the community can rest easier knowing that the large aircraft that use runway 16/34 can indeed be stopped within the airport boundary in an emergency. Until repairs – estimated to cost about $396,000 – the barrier is still operational, except for the few blocks damaged by the Falcon that were removed. And in case you’re wondering, the airport doesn’t have to pay for the repairs. That bill gets sent to the insurance company of the Falcon’s operator.

Other business aviation airports that also thought ahead enough to install EMAS include, Greenville Downtown SC, Hyannis Barnstable MA. Dutchess County NY, Teterboro NJ, St.Paul Downtown MN, Kansas City Downtown MO, Newcastle Wilmington DE, Telluride CO, Martin County MD, Republic airport NY, Groton New London CT, Cleveland Burke Lakefront OH, Addison TX, and Monterey CA.

Chicago Executive Airport, Part of the National Airport System

pwk photoAviation is all about systems, and it’s no different for airports. Most people in the Chicago Exec community know that PWK is a “reliever.” Aside from the obvious, that it “relieves” commercial airports like O’Hare and Midway of general aviation traffic, did you know that Chicago Exec is one of nearly 3,400 hundred airports in the National Plan on Integrated Airport Systems?

If the NPIAS is new to you, it identifies airports that are significant to national air transportation, and becoming part of this system is one of the qualifications for federal Airport Improvement Program grants that fund airport infrastructure improvements. Being just one of 3,400 such airports doesn’t sound like much, but consider this:

U.S. law defines an airport as “any area of land or water used or intended for landing or takeoff of aircraft including appurtenant area used or intended for airport buildings, facilities, as well as rights of way together with the buildings and facilities.”

This definition is the common denominator for the 19,299 airports in the United States. This includes seaplane bases and heliports, counted in 2014 (the most recent data) by the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Of that number, only 5,145 are public use; 13,863 are private; and the military owns 286.

The FAA categorizes airports by their activity. Commercial Service airports are publicly owned and have scheduled airline service that board at least 2,500 passengers a year. If it boards more than 10,000 passengers a year, it is a primary airport. Passengers boarded also categorize an airport’s hub status, Large, Medium, Small, and Nonhub.

A commercial service airport may also be designated Cargo Service if it has an annual “landed weight” of more than 100 million pounds. “Landed weight” means the weight of aircraft transporting only cargo in intrastate, interstate, and foreign air transportation.

Officially, the FAA defines (and designates) reliever airports as those that “relieve congestion at Commercial Service Airports and provide improved general aviation access to the overall community.” The FAA has designated nine Illinois airports as relievers, and six of them—Aurora Municipal (ARR); Chicago Exec (PWK); DuPage (DPA); Lake in the Hills (3CK); Lewis University/Romeoville (LOT); and Waukegan Regional (UGN)—surround Chicago.

Completing the system are general aviation airports. These public-use fields do not have scheduled service or board less than 2,500 passengers a year. They account for nearly 88 percent of the airports in the NPIAS. And reliever airports like Chicago Exec often offer them relief as well because its snow removal and other services that provide “improved access” to those who need it year-round.

Chicago Helicopter Experience Serves Chicago Executive with Premier Charter Service

che cityFrom its founding in 2011 until the City of Chicago approved its downtown heliport in 2014, Chicago Executive Airport was home for Chicago Helicopter Experience, CHE. Its founding airport is just one of the destinations served by the company’s recently announced service, Premier Charters. Operating under an FAA Part 135 charter certificate, PWK leads the list of CHE’s most popular destinations, just 11 minutes from its downtown terminal.

Flying the five-passenger EC130 and twin-turbine EC-135 helicopters, CHE’s instrument-rated commercial pilots stand ready to get passengers where they need to go 24/7 at 160 mph. In addition to Chicago Exec, CHE’s popular destinations include airports throughout Chicagoland, from O’Hare and Midway to Aurora, DuPage, Schaumburg, South Bend, Gary/Chicago, Michigan City, and the Grand Geneva Resort. At Chicago Exec and the other airports it serves, CHE can land at the FBO of the customer’s choice.

CHE also serves a number of off-airport destinations. They include the Medinah, Autobahn, and Cog Hill country clubs, the Harborside International Golf Center, Chicagoland Speedway, the Northbrook Gun Club, and the Horseshoe Casino. But the company makes it clear that the destinations it serves are not limited to this list. As its website makes clear, “We will fly you anywhere in the Midwest quickly and comfortably.”

Making the most of time is what aviation does best. Fixed-wing aircraft are better suited for longer distances and helicopters have no equals when it comes to shorter distances, especially in cities where almost every square foot of space is already spoken for. Together, they form a partnership that serves people’s aviation needs. When it comes to travel, the shortest distance is not a straight line; it is the ultimate destination’s nearest airport and heliport.

che mapChicago Executive is mere hours from any airport on either coast, and CHE’s heliport, located 2 miles from McCormick Place, 3 miles from the financial district, and less than 4 miles from the Magnificent Mile, is just 11 minutes from PWK. In 2016, at its downtown heliport, CHE will open its 20,000-square-foot LEED Gold certified terminal with its green rooftop and flight observation deck. In addition to customer service amenities and meeting facilities, it will feature a customer experience center with interactive and educational exhibits. It covers almost all the transportation bases. It is just off I-55, with ample free parking. A water taxi dock is part of its 2016 additions, as is bicycle parking.

Premier charter service is but one aspect of CHE’s services. The company was founded on aviation’s primary reward, viewing the world from an elevated perspective—day or night. But the addition is significant to aviation throughout Chicagoland because it inaugurates helicopter service to and from the city.

Around the Airport

Executive Director Hand Delivers Some Cash


Madeleine Monaco with Airport Executive Director Jamie Abbott

The PWK Board of Directors and the airport’s Executive Director last week delivered a check for $2,000 to Madeleine Monaco, this year’s President of the Chicago Executive Pilots’ Association. The check, destined for the pilot association’s scholarship fund, was the airport’s donation from money earned at the July 4th weekend’s 5K race that brought over 400 runners and walkers to the field. Each year in June, the pilots association announces the winners of that year’s scholarships. The total amount awarded annually is equal to roughly half of the amount donated each year.

Scholarship winners are students attending an Illinois accredited institute of higher learning in an aviation program focused on a wide range of subjects in addition to learning to fly. Monaco said, “The past few years have brought us many applicants across the spectrum of aviation careers. All have shown dedication, good grades, financial need and good career goals. We have also funded cadet flight training from time to time at the Johnson Flight Academy held each year at Coles County Airport for Civil Air Patrol Cadets.” In the recent past, individual scholarships amounts have averaged about $1,000 range although one in 2013 did total $6,500. Monaco said the association hopes to see the scholarship’s base fund continue growing each year. Learn more about the Chicago Executive Pilots Association online.

Airport Noise Committee Holds First Meeting

The Airport Noise Committee (ANC) met for the first time on September 15th at the airport office to discuss the group’s purpose, as well as the details of how subject matter would be handled in the future. Future quarterly meetings were scheduled including the December’s that will takes place on December 8th at 6:30 p.m., again at the airport office. The ANC is comprised of one Aldermen from Prospect Hts. and one Trustee from Wheeling, in addition to three local residents, one from Wheeling, one from Prospect Hts. and one from Mt. Prospect. rounding out the ANC is airport Executive Director Jamie Abbott, Airport Communications Director Rob Mark and PWK Tower Manager Jim Bergagna. The group generally agreed to evaluate a number of issues on the table, such as possibly adding noise monitors around the airport to measure noise levels, as well as updating the airport’s noise models that recently expired. Another goal is to develop cost-effective solutions to airport-generated noise when possible while reviewing how noise complaints currently generated by local residents will also fit into the ANC’s agenda. The group learned that the option to seek federal funding for any local noise sound proofing of homes, for instance, is dependent upon first updating those old noise models. Jamie Abbott said he’d be talking to the Board about that at the next meeting in October. While the next quarterly meeting is, of course, open to the public, questions or comments about airport noise issues or topics to be added to the next agenda may be sent at any time to Rob Mark at, prior to that December meeting.

Wheeling/Prospect Hts. Chamber of Commerce Holds Business Meeting at Atlantic AviationWPH CHamber 9-15

Also on September 15th, nearly 50 people attended an event created by the Wheeling/Prospect Hts. Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with both the airport and Atlantic Aviation to help create the next generation of leaders in the manufacturing industry. Key to the event’s success this year and in the future, will be matching the needs of local businesses with the programs young people are studying before they graduate from local academic institutions such as Harper College, National Lewis University, District 214, Wheeling High School and Solex College. Wheeling Village Manager Dean Argiris and Prospect Hts. Mayor Nick Helmer kicked off the afternoon’s presentations, followed by comments from representatives of the various schools and finally much Q & A from the audience. The audience also learned that Wheeling and Prospect Hts. are part of the fourth largest manufacturing district in the United States. While this was the first time this particular chamber leadership gathering was held, it is expected to become an annual event. More information about the Wheeling Prospect Hts. Chamber of Commerce is available online.

A Blog Means Airport News

blogWelcome to Chicago Executive Airport’s new blog.

For people new to this sort of communication, a blog is a local online newspaper of sorts. This one just happens to be for and about Chicago Executive airport, also known as PWK to pilots. Over the coming months, we’ll publish stories that explain why the airport exists and what owning it means for the communities of Wheeling and Prospect Heights that jointly own the place.

Our goals here, in alphabetical order, are to educate, entertain, and inform you about all aspects of the airport and the communities it serves. One measure of our success will be your level of surprise, as in, “Gee, I didn’t know that!” The most interesting part of a blog is that it’s a two-way street. If you like what you see here, you’ll be able to comment. And if you don’t like what you see or read, you can still comment … as long as your language doesn’t become offensive of course.

Introducing members of Chicago Exec’s extended family to each other is one of our driving forces with this venture because it fosters an appreciation of the people who contribute to the success of the airport, whether they work on the airport or live and work in the local community.PWK Race 2015

We believe that no endeavor is insignificant. Cutting the grass may seem like nothing more than a seasonal task; but how many people even appreciate what contribution the height of the grass plays in the airport’s wildlife management plan? Or what about the training required to drive in the airport’s operations area? What kinds of people work in the control tower and what exactly do they do there? What about the local firefighters and police who work the airport? Certainly you must have questions about what happens on the airport, so e-mail them to us and we’ll do our best to answer.

While we all work hard at PWK, we also believe in having a little fun along the way, like our 5K Run the Runway race last week, or that same evening’s community entertainment topped off with our first ever fireworks show.

We’ve made it easy for you to follow what happens at the airport too. In the gray column way over to the right of this story, you’ll see our subscribe icon. Just type in your e-mail and we’ll add you to our mailing list. Then every few weeks when we post a new story, you’ll be able to read them, as well as comments if you choose. You can also follow us on Facebook at: pwkairport and on Twitter @pwkchiexec

You can always reach me at

Thanks for reading. 

Rob Mark, Airport Communications