O'Hare Slot Rule Out For Comment

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Chicago just got a little bit unfriendlier to general aviation, thanks to the FAA. AVweb's Favorite Aviation Agency, the one that only now is taking the City of Chicago to task for bulldozing lakefront Meigs Field into oblivion on March 31, 2003, last week published a new rule reimposing restrictions on GA access to the City of Brotherly Love [PDF]. The new regulation, SFAR 105, was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 20 and restricts non-scheduled (i.e., non-airline) operations at O'Hare International Airport to four per hour between 0700 and 2059 local time, starting in November and continuing at least through April 30, 2005. The agency is seeking comments on the new rule from the public through Nov. 1, 2004. To its credit, however, the FAA this week announced a series of $5.5 million upgrades to two runways designed to reduce delays during poor weather. The upgrades consist of "enhanced navigation equipment" and brighter lights. According to the FAA's notice announcing the new rule, it's necessary "to ensure the effectiveness of the Administrator’s Order issued Aug. 18, 2004, which limited scheduled arrivals over the same hours and effective dates." In other words, restrictions on GA are necessary because that's the deal the DOT/FAA cut with the airlines operating at O'Hare. Put another way in the notice, "when the air carriers published their January and February 2004 schedules in the Official Airline Guide, they revealed their intention to add still more operations to the encumbered O’Hare schedule." In other words, the FAA chose to restrict non-scheduled (GA) operations because the airlines were scheduling more flights than the airport can handle. Sounds like one of those "exaggerations" to us.