Restrictions On GA Flight Start At Meigs, Expand To O'Hare

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As new capacity limits on GA flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport went into effect this week, the FAA released a new study that says O'Hare must set its limits even lower in order to avoid gridlock. GA operations as of this week are limited to four per hour between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The new study says O'Hare can handle just 190 to 200 arrivals and departures per hour, fewer than a 2001 study that recommended a maximum of 200 to 202 flights per hour. When visibility is poor, the maximum should go down to 136 to 144 per hour, the FAA said. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has blamed the O'Hare problems on the closure of Meigs Field, which used to accommodate more than 20,000 operations per year. Corporate charter operators now must wait until 72 hours before their flight to schedule a takeoff or landing at O'Hare. "That obviously won't work for charters that are booked six months out," Alec McNish, vice president of air contracting at Apple Vacations West, told Crain's Business News. Eric Byer, of the National Air Transportation Association, told Crain's the industry was not given enough time to comment. "They're essentially shoving it down industry's throat," he said. The National Air Transportation Administration (NATA) recently called the new slot rule "a mockery of the rulemaking process."