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HowardL Dec 1, 2005 3:22 PM

O'Hare making room for giant Airbus jet
Lufthansa to start A380 service in '08

By Mark Skertic
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 1, 2005

It will be a tight fit, but O'Hare International Airport is preparing for the arrival of the gargantuan Airbus A380, which typically will carry 555 passengers.

German airline Lufthansa plans to fly Airbus' new superjumbo between Chicago and Frankfurt beginning in late 2008. That gives O'Hare time to prepare for the double-decker aircraft.

Accommodating aircraft the size of the A380 is part of the O'Hare runway expansion plan, but those changes likely are years away. City aviation officials have anticipated the need to have room for the A380 with the airport as currently configured.

"We do not expect any issues whatsoever," said Wendy Abrams, an airport spokeswoman.

O'Hare meets the 10,000-foot-long runway requirement, has adequate gate space and operates a baggage-handling system that can accommodate the needs of such a large aircraft, Abrams said.

The only issue is taxiways, which the Federal Aviation Administration says must be 100 feet wide for the A380. O'Hare's are 75 feet wide, but the airport is proposing modifications to that standard. The FAA has not issued final rules regarding the aircraft.

To make room for the King Kong of commercial carriers, Chicago aviation officials are planning to use two gates for each arrival and departure. The planes, which can hold up to 850 passengers, have two entryways, so two passenger bridges will be used to enter or exit the plane.

Lufthansa's planned once-daily A380 flight will arrive at Terminal 5, the international terminal, to unload passengers. The return flight will depart from Terminal 1, now dedicated to United, where passengers will board the plane. United partner Lufthansa already has space in the terminal, which it uses for its three daily departures from Chicago.

The A380 flight likely will replace an existing Chicago-Frankfurt flight, said Armin Catrina, Lufthansa's general manager for operations and airport services in North and South America. The airline flies daily between the two cities with a Boeing 747-400. A second daily departure to Frankfurt will resume in the spring.

Lufthansa plans to begin flying the A380 in the United States in late 2007 or early 2008, with service from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, he said.

"No final decisions have been made because there is so much activity going on to get airports ready, to get facilities ready" for the supersize aircraft, Catrina said. "We'll firm up the list of destinations in the second half of next year when we have a clearer picture of things."

Airbus has said the A380 will be a way to carry more passengers without adding additional flights. Singapore Airlines is set to take the first delivery of the A380 in late 2006. The airline plans to use it for service to London.

The aircraft lists for about $290 million each, although discounts can apply depending on contract terms. Airbus has orders for 149 of the aircraft.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

Chicago103 Dec 2, 2005 10:38 PM

I thought of this in another thread in the cityscape forum but I just have to post it here, (edited slightly to fit the context of this thread).

Actually thinking more about the possible airport connections, and keeping in mind the airport express that will exist between downtown to O'Hare and Midway (and presumably Gary/Chicago someday), there could be a similar Tri-Airport connector service to serve those who are just in Chicago to transfer planes at different airports. It would have the same concept as the airport express (your baggage would be automatically tranfered there), it would have stops just at the three airports, probably following a route leaving O'Hare and eventually connecting with the tracks by Cicero Avenue, stopping at Midway and then cutting over towards the southeast eventually ending up at Gary/Chicago. I suppose it might not be necessary since if there are three airport express trains going downtown already, those transfering between airports could just go to Block 37 and transfer from one line to the other, but that would still involve another transfer of luggage that might have complications while a Tri-Airport connector would only involve one transfer of people and luggage instead of two. So the Block 37 trains will be for those going to and from downtown and the Tri-Airport connector would be for those just transfering planes between two airports. The idea I guess is to make transfering planes at two different airports almost as easy as transfering planes at one airport. Shit if this all came to pass, we would not only be the larges air-hub in the world, but the three airports would almost act as one and be the most transit accessible on the planet by far.

Did that make sense or did I confuse anyone?

Rail Claimore Dec 2, 2005 11:15 PM

^It makes sense, but there's no feasible way to set up express service to Gary from Block 37. That will have to be done at Randolph Street Station. Connecting the two stations and fusing them into one big transit hub, instead of two separate hubs connected just by the pedway, would be the solution there.

Chicago103 Dec 2, 2005 11:55 PM

I tried to upload a google earth file showing a route I created for the Tri-Airport Connector, but I think you would get the idea. I still ended up with 46 miles of tracks (using existing rail tracks as much as possible) from O'Hare to Midway to Gary. That means a passenger transfering from O'Hare to Gary would still take an hour at least (considering the train has to stop at Midway to unload and load passengers and luggage), but that would still probably be faster than having to transfer trains downtown and its still a hell of alot more plausable than having an airport at Peotone.

pdxstreetcar Dec 9, 2005 3:13 AM

i think midway expansion might become an issue after this crash

Steely Dan Dec 9, 2005 3:19 AM

^ midway can't be expanded. it's hemmed in by dense, bungalow-belt hoods on all sides.

spyguy Dec 9, 2005 3:28 AM

pdxstreetcar Dec 9, 2005 3:47 AM

but isnt o'hare also hemmed in and requiring property acquistion?

i would be surprised though if there was a push to buy properties to lengthen the runway, certainly they havent figured out exactly what happened yet but on the news they've been mentioning that o'hare's runways are twice as long at around 13000 ft and midway's are 5000-6000 ft long

Adam186 Dec 9, 2005 4:14 AM


Originally Posted by spyguy

Midway should create a buffer zone. That's rediculous. What if a plane skids off the runway and lands on a car crushing 2 adults and 3 children.....Wait it just did. Lets's hope they can do something about this.

Anyway, back on topic.

spyguy Dec 15, 2005 10:38 PM

Could O’Hare be boon for city?

By Robert Sanchez

Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wood Dale Mayor Ken Johnson says his community is “a little schizophrenic” when it comes to the topic of expanding O’Hare International Airport.

The city belongs to the anti-expansion Suburban O’Hare Commission and opposes the building of new runways.

On the other hand, it would benefit if a promised western airport entrance opens by 2013.

“If western access occurs, that’s going to bring redevelopment,” Johnson said. “We have the potential to be the Rosemont of the western side.”

So when municipal leaders throughout DuPage County came together Wednesday night to discuss the possible economic and transportation impact of expanding O’Hare, Johnson brought an open mind.

“If we are going to get the aggravation, give us some of the benefits,” he said before the gathering at the county complex in Wheaton.

It was the first of three meetings the county scheduled to gather data for a study of what opportunities for new development might be created once the multibillion-dollar expansion of O’Hare is complete.

“The overarching goal is to get a vision of what DuPage County should look like after O’Hare is modernized,” said Tom Cuculich, director of the county’s economic development and planning department.

“Will it be office buildings and convention centers?” Cuculich said. “Or will it be next-generation industrial parks?”

But before any questions can be answered, consultants first want to know what municipal leaders are envisioning for their communities.

“We want to put all this together so regional plans are aware of local plans and vice versa,” Cuculich said. “It’s very important that we are all on the same page.”

The nearly $400,000 study, more than half of which was funded by Chicago, is expected to be complete by late spring.

In addition to economics and development, it will explore what road improvements might be needed to create western access.

National lawmakers have committed $140 million toward building the second entrance to O’Hare as part of the six-year federal highway bill. Still, DuPage officials estimate the total cost will be more than $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, a study isn’t expected to deter O’Hare opponents, who say many are going to lose their homes and businesses if the airport is expanded.

The proposed airport expansion plan would take out more than 530 Bensenville homes, several industrial businesses in Elk Grove Village and 1,300 graves at the cemetery run by St. John’s United Church of Christ in Bensenville.

sentinel Dec 17, 2005 10:21 PM

I find it annoying that people who don't know the area are the ones saying that somehow Midway should be fixed that a "buffer zone" has to be put in place immediately, or the airport should be scrapped completely. It's very hard to do that because it is literally in the middle of a dense part of the SW side of Chicago, but you can't just abandon it completely because it is convenient, not everyone can or wants to travel to leave from O'Hare, and considering that nearly 20 million people use it every year is testament to the fact that it is an economic powerhouse. It's not an easy fix however you look at it.

spyguy Dec 17, 2005 10:27 PM

^Sadly, this tragedy is being used to promote another future tragedy, the Peotone Airport.

The Cheat Dec 17, 2005 10:49 PM

What happened at Midway needs to be put in context. Only two major incidents in over 33 years.

Steely Dan Dec 19, 2005 4:08 PM

^ yes, it is absolutely asinine to talk of closing midway. it is not an ideal airport set-up, but it's by no means an inherently dangerous one. accidents are tragic, but they happen. midway's overalll saftey record is actually quite good.

Jersey Mentality Dec 19, 2005 4:11 PM

^ accidents will happen, it is inevitable. They could always create a two block buffer around the airport, I say tear down some of the homes. But of the people want to live there that damn bad then they live there at thier own risk as far as I'm concerend.

VivaLFuego Dec 19, 2005 8:39 PM

Has anyone ever suggested the entire suburb of Bedford Park (which is basically a giant industrial park) be turned into 2 long parallel east-west runways?

These could be connected to the current midway with a taxiway that would only slice through about 6 or 8 city blocks. They'd be parallel to all the runways farther north at o'hare so it shouldnt interfere with the flight patterns. there would be an ample buffer zone on both sides. This could seriously expand capacity at midway and maybe even push off the need for a third airport for several decades. and construction wouldnt even disrupt current flight operations at midway.

jddar Dec 20, 2005 1:06 AM


Originally Posted by LUKECUJ
^ Brilliant idea, not to mention potential for larger aircraft... Also how would planes traverse the rail yard?

They could build a bridge. Part of Atlanta's new fifth runway is being built over I-285. If they can build runways over interstate highways, surely, taxiways over railyards would be possible.

The Cheat Dec 21, 2005 3:12 AM

EMAS - engineered material arresting system - would have helped to stop the plane before it left the airport property.

Rail Claimore Dec 22, 2005 6:45 AM


Originally Posted by jddar

Originally Posted by LUKECUJ
^ Brilliant idea, not to mention potential for larger aircraft... Also how would planes traverse the rail yard?

They could build a bridge. Part of Atlanta's new fifth runway is being built over I-285. If they can build runways over interstate highways, surely, taxiways over railyards would be possible.

Looking at a map of Chicago, I've actually thought about that before, have Midway be approximately 4 square miles instead of one. They could use the current square mile they have for a new expanded terminal, then have runways both north and south of there.

Rail Claimore Dec 22, 2005 6:57 AM

Actually, you're right, forget about goign north of 55th... I see what you're talking about. They could take close to 6 square miles that way, about 80% of which would be industry.

That seems like a major rail yard and juncture though...

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