Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Oyana, Tonny


Although runways are critical components that make up an airport, few studies have examined their orientations and operations. This is further compounded by the fact that runway layout design and/or configuration are so complex yet they play a vital role in the airport's daily operation, capacity, and safety. In this study, I wish to apply GIS techniques, a wind rose model, and a noise distance decay model to achieve two specific objectives: (1) to determine the effectiveness of runways in terms of its orientation, design, and physical layout; and (2) to analyze any socioeconomic and environmental impacts associated with the use and development of O'Hare Chicago International Airport (ORD). The economic impact of this airport that was reviewed includes job employment, annual development, movement of goods and services and tourism. The study highlights the environmental impacts such as noise, lake effects, compatible land use, and other significant factors in relation to the airport and surrounding communities. The noise distance-decay model shows that aircraft noise levels decompose at about 800 feet (243m) from the O'Hare runways. Areas close to the airport have a 70db noise level and there are non-homogenous patterns between the day and night sound levels and the distance from the runways. The wind rose model shows that the wind blowing at O'Hare airport has a southern directional bias only two of the eight runways meet the criteria of a northeast/southwest direction. The directions of the winds are predominantly southerly headings and wind speeds are greater than 7 m/s. The integration of rule-based runway networks and the wind rose model results allowed for a visual analysis and comparison of runway networks. The integration enabled the analysis of the wind direction in relation to the landing or takeoff of aircrafts. The final interpretation of this result requires caution as it suggests that the use of daily wind events would provide a better outcome. Although this study has suggested a GIS-based strategy and wind rose model with key four elements it still requires further refinement. Future work should plan to include more analytical models/optimization methods that accounts for most factors that determine the effectiveness utilization of runways. Keywords: GIS, O'Hare Modernization Program, runways, wind rose, noise, economy




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