Flight International online news 08:30GMT: A US Federal Aviation Administration study of plans to modernise Chicago O’Hare airport has backed a proposal by the city’s leaders criticised just days ago by a federal government watchdog.

On July 25 the Office of the Inspector General suggested Chicago city’s $6.6 billion estimate for modernising O’Hare was $1.4 billion too low, and called on the FAA to intensify its scrutiny of the project, which will rely on a sizeable federal investment.

Yesterday, however, the FAA in an environmental impact study said this same plan “offers the lowest level average delays, the greatest savings in delay costs, and has minimal additional impacts on air quality, water quality, water run off and noise levels when compared to the other construction alternatives”.

Although the FAA has backed this particular plan, it is not certain the plan will be adopted in favour of four other proposals. “The FAA will continue to consider the other alternatives and the no build option as possible choices,” said the regulator, noting that it is required by law to indicate a preferred bid for all airport projects.

The preferred bid, the O’Hare Modernisation Project, is a two-phase eight-year programme that recommends the addition of one new runway, the relocation of three existing runways, the extension of two others, and additional infrastructure improvements.

It is part of O’Hare’s 20-year, $15 billion master plan, designed to address capacity constraints and lower flight delays at the severely congested facility.

Source: Flight International