Are you affected by noise from airplanes in Brampton?
The Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) recently announced some rather ambitious plans for Pearson International Airport. Specifically, they want to turn into into a “Union Station West” that would serve as a secondary transportation hub for a growing GTHA.
But this significant growth has not cme without some problems. Last summer, a meeting with residents and the GTAA resulted in numerous complaints about one of the main issues that perk people when it comes to the airport: too much noise. There were even local politicians raising concerns that the GTAA may be overstepping the boundaries and acting too unilaterally.
The GTAA has been presenting Six Ideas to mitigate and manage the noise levels around airport operations. Recently, a community briefing was held to outline those ideas at the Four Points Sheraton hotel near Pearson Airport.
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A presentation was given and representatives from GTAA, NAV Canada (who conducts airport operations), and UK aviation consultant firm Helios took several questions from the audience after each presentation of one idea.
These Six Ideas from the GTAA as outlined in their presentation were:
The following were summaries of each idea presented by GTAA followed by some questions from residents for each idea presented.
New Approach to Night Time Operations
A resident brought up community complaints about the use of runways and asked why NAV Canada couldn’t use higher elevation 15 years ago. In response, a consultant from Helios said that was based on an independent airspace review, which recommended a 3.2 degree glide path. The London City Airport has five degrees, but overall three degrees is the recognized international standard.
The Helios consultant added that going higher than 3.2 isn’t as viable at an airport like Pearson because some aircraft cannot fly those steeper approaches. There were some airports that did trials with steeper approaches, but pilots needed to deploy flaps to slow down which actually negated the noise mitigation measures.
A woman asked why presentations and meetings were not being done in the various neighbourhoods. The GTAA representative said that some 13 meetings were conducted or planned. The woman said she lives at Leaside, which she said the diagrams detailing the flight paths did not show because it only showed Don Mills (according to her, Leaside is not in Don Mills).
However, if you were wondering how the flight paths would affect your specific location, NAV Canada did provide computer simulation models showing one’s specific location in accordance with those flight paths:
New Departure Procedures for Night-Time Operations
Below is the flight path shown for Runway 23 at Pearson:
And this is Runway 5:
Increase Downwind Arrival Speeds
The presenters indicated that increased use of Continuous Descent Operations would enable aircraft to reach higher altitudes during a longer portion of the arrival, and enables more aircraft to operate in a clean, quieter profile at a reduced thrust and flap setting. In some cases, the proposal will allow for more aircraft to cut across Lake Ontario and avoid using the downwind leg.
New Technology to Reduce the Need for Low Altitude leveling by Arriving Aircraft
During the presentation, the GTAA was asked about using Require Navigational Performance, but they said it would be difficult to implement with a parallel runway. There is new technology coming that will adjust that, and GTAA said they were committed to looking at implementing RNP.
Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program
Residents would receive full or partial respite on alternate weekends. Partial respite relates to the “offload” of additional arrivals or departures on a primary runway. Residents would receive full impact on alternate weekends, and a published schedule of expected runway configurations allowing residents to plan weekends.
Review of the Preferential Runway System
The GTAA says Pearson uses a preferential runway system from 12 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. in order to minimize impacts on residential areas. The proposed changes will further minimize the population affected by nighttime aircraft noise and provide residents with more clarity on which runways will be used in which weather conditions.
And how is all of this impacting surrounding cities?
One woman said Milton is the dumping ground for preferential runway systems, and perhaps it’s time to scrap PRS and stop “beating up” smaller communities like Campbellville, which has a population of around 5,000, because it is convenient to do so.
The presenters also provided a summary of frequently asked questions along with some stats, based on the questions that have been asked by residents before and during the presentation, such as:
Will air traffic increase by 2037?
Given the use of larger aircraft, Toronto Pearson expects average annual aircraft growth of 1.4 per cent over the next 20 years, which is in line with the population of the GTA.
Could there be a ban on night flights?
Many people had been asking about banning night flights, which relates to a question whether Toronto Pearson operates 24/7 (it does). Of all the ten largest airports in Europe, only Frankfurt operates a full night flight ban from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. This ban was implemented in 2012 as a condition of constructing a new runway. Other European airports have instituted voluntary or mandatory restrictions, many of which are similar to Pearson’s night flight policies.
Can air traffic be directed to other airports? What’s the status on building an airport in Pickering?
The GTAA is barred by the federal Competition Act from directly coordinating its business activities with other airports, but the airport authority said it has been working with 10 airports from across Southern Ontario to better understand how to support the diverse aviation requirements of various areas in the region. Transport Canada oversees future airport development, so any decisions regarding Pickering falls under their jurisdiction.
Does Pearson airport pay taxes?
In 2016, the GTAA paid the federal government $148.1 million in ground rent, and $33 million to the City of Mississauga as payment in lieu-of-taxes. Airport tenants also pay taxes to the municipalities
(Mississauga city councillors have been critical that the payment in lieu-of-taxes is only a drop in the bucket).
For now, the airport’s expansion shows no sign of slowing, and it seems residents recognize that reality. And although there are some who will never be satisfied with any proposal, overall all people want at this stage is a little more respect from those in charge of the airport.
The public commenting period closes on April 20, before the GTAA releases their summary report and next steps this summer.
What else do you think the airport can do to curb noise pollution around your neighbourhood?