Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tens pounds of airplane in a five-pound bag

Here is an actual message sent from Orbitz to airline passengers who were delayed today while transferring flights at O'Hare Airport:

Passengers scheduled to arrive at Chicago O'Hare airport through the late evening may encounter delays averaging 45 minutes. The large number of flights scheduled to arrive at the airport exceeds the number of aircraft that can land hourly. This does not change your scheduled check-in time. Thank you for choosing Orbitz and have a good flight.
The answer, as aviation experts have said for years, isn't building new, inefficient runways at a small, 1950s style airport (O'Hare), but to build a new reliever airport in the south suburbs. If Mayor Richard M. Daley had not so jealously guarded his O'Hare jobs and contracts by using his political power to put a brick on the south suburb airport, it could already have been doing its job, easing traffic congestion at O'Hare.

Also posted in The Barbershop: Dennis Byrne, Proprietor

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Problems at O’Hare Airport

If Mayor Richard M. Daley can’t get his phantasmagoric O’Hare Airport expansion plan completed in time for the 2016 Olympics, maybe he can get the Games postponed.

That’s because he has a better chance of getting the Olympics delayed than he has of realizing his airport expansion hallucination by then.

Read more in the Chicago Daily Observer

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another near disaster at O'Hare

The first new O'Hare runway hasn't even opened yet, and the National Transportation Safety Board is reporting a near midair collision between two planes there.

While on-ground runway/taxiway incursions are the number one concern of aviation safety experts, it should be noted that the skies over O'Hare are near capacity. The difficulty of keeping approaching and departing planes separate was a principle reason that Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and federal aviation officials had agreed as far back as the 1980s to add airport capacity in the Chicago region in the southern suburbs.

That south suburban airport nearly became reality and could have been in operation today, relieving O'Hare delays and providing a safer alternative had not Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley used his political influence to halt the new airport because it would compete with O'Hare for jobs and contracts.

When it comes to airports, Chicago has never heard of safety first.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stoplights at O'Hare. It's about time.

The folks at the Federal Aviation Administration--the geniuses who gave the green light to the ultra-extravagant and dangerous O'Hare Airport expansion--have come up with a way to help prevent the greatest threat to aviation safety: runway collisions.

They'll be installing stop and go lights at the intersections of runways and taxiways at O'Hare and 19 other busy airports. Stop lights; who would have thought of that? Especially when the FAA itself keeps repeating that the biggest aviation safety problem is on-ground collisions. Especially when the worst aviation disaster (excluding 9-11) was the collision of two packed airplanes on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, in which 583 people were killed. That puts the FAA about--what?--80 or 90 years behind traffic engineers.

So, despite the real on-ground problems, the FAA goes ahead and approves the massive O'Hare rebuilding in which more taxiing planes than ever will have to cross as many as two or more active parallel runways to get to and from the terminal gates. This is thanks to the new unprecedented six-parallel runway configuration, made necessary by trying to squeeze a 21st century airport into a small, 7,000-acre facility designed in the 1950s.

Think of all the stop lights at O'Hare. Think of how long it will then take to get to your gate. Good luck, fliers.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lawyer for Chicago in O'Hare expansion project has ties to DuPage County chief

Friday, July 11, 2008

City pushes forward with lofty O'Hare plans

Who will pay for Phase 2 of Daley's O'Hare expansion plan when United and America say they won't pay for it?

You will.

See this Chicago Sun-Times analysis

This is stupid

Crain's Chicago Business reported* that Chicago is considering privatizing a portion of O'Hare Airport to raise as much as $800 million for airport expansion as expected major funding from United and American airlines is drying up.

Paul Volpe, the city’s chief financial officer, said in a letter to the two airlines that while the Daley administration hopes that the two will agree to pay for the second half of the $14-billion-plus expansion plan (they never did to start with), it "is confident that a practical funding plan that does not include the airlines is available to provide for timely completion."

Bensenville, Elk Grove Village and a bunch of other suburbs are entitled to a big, fat told-ya-so. When those communities unveiled their proposal for a south suburban airport, it would have been almost completely financed by the private sector. Two major international development companies were--and presumably still are--lined up to privately plan, finance, build and operate the airport, essentially without the same kind of taxpayer and airline money that was to fund O'Hare expansion. Nationally recognized aviation experts hired by the expansion opponents concluded that the same traditional funding mechanism would not work for O'Hare expansion.

The combination of bonding, passenger taxes, airline support and government grants simply would not provide enough money for the so-called O'Hare Modernization Program . The whole expansion would collapse for lack of money. This warning came even before the high increase in fuel costs that are driving the airlines into red ink.

If Mayor Richard M. Daley had not used his political clout to effectively delay, if not kill, the south suburban airport plan, traffic already could be using the airport, and O'Hare would not be the national laughing stock that it is now.

*May 23, 2008 article. Available only by paid subscription.