Updates on air traffic noise issue

Email from MP John Carmichael, Don Valley West

Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2013 12:06:20 PM
Subject: Update on the Pearson Airport arrivals flight path issue

Dear friends,

I am sending this email to those North Leaside residents and others who have contacted me with concerns about aircraft noise from arrival flights preparing to land at Pearson Airport.

Attached is a letter dated 17 January 2013 from Michelle Bishop, Director of Government and Public Affairs at Nav Canada, following up on the issues raised and suggestions made at the meeting I convened on October 9th bringing together concerned residents of North Leaside with the officials from Nav Canada.

I am disappointed but I cannot say I am surprised that there is nothing in the attached letter that might point towards any potential relief for those residents who are most troubled by noise from the flights passing directly over their homes in North Leaside and other nearby neighbourhoods. At the meeting in October officials made it clear that, while there may be a very small degree of latitude within which to adjust the specific flight path that is of concern to North Leaside residents, they were not prepared simply to move the line a few hundred metres to the south and thereby transfer the issue to a different set of neighbourhoods.

As you know, arrival and departure flight paths at international airports like Pearson are determined by Nav Canada in accordance with safety and efficiency standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a body of the United Nations. While Transport Canada is the safety regulator for aviation in Canada, the department does not approve changes to individual routings (i.e. flight paths) other than to confirm that the design meets the appropriate standards.

I understand that some people will not be satisfied with this response.  I am however at least somewhat encouraged by the indication in the final paragraph that Nav Canada will aim to improve its communication before changes are made to flight paths in the future.


John Carmichael, MP


January 17. 2013

Mr. John Carmichael, M.P.
(Don Valley West)
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A OA6

RE: Standard Terminal Arrival Route changes at CYYZ

Follow up to meeting on October 9, 2012

Mr. Carmichael,

I am writing to follow up on the meeting that took place in your constituency office on October 9, 2012. At that meeting you asked that NAV CANADA examine whether a viable alternative exists to the current runway 23/24 arrival downwind that transits over areas of Don Valley West. That flight path is primarily used by aircraft arriving to Toronto-Pearson airport from trans-border airports to the south as well a portion of arrivals from airports to the west.

As we explained at the meeting, the downwind portion of the arrival path was relocated in February 2012 in order to meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) current design standards. These design standards govern such things as descent profiles, turn radiuses and minimum leg length for instrument approaches in order to ensure that they are safely navigable by all aircraft types.

All instrument procedures must be reviewed every tour years and at that time, procedures must be updated to meet current design standards. Procedures at Toronto-Pearson International Airport were due to be reviewed in the fall of 2011. Given that NAV CANADA was undertaking a project to examine potential opportunities to improve efficiency of air operations in the Toronto-Montreal corridor, the decision was made to combine the changes for implementation at the same time in February 2012.

Instrument approach design standards rule out moving the downwind leg back to its previous location, or anywhere north of its current location, as that would reduce the base leg of the approach to below the new minimum required.

It is also not possible to relocate the downwind leg of the approach south of the city over Lake Ontario. East and southbound departures already utilize the airspace over the lake where they climb to their en route altitude. Additionally, traffic arriving and departing Toronto City Centre airport is accommodated at lower altitudes. There are no appropriate altitudes available for the arrival stream to safely intermix with existing operations over Lake Ontario.

For traffic management reasons, the downwind leg of the approach must follow a path parallel to the runway itself (southwest to northeast). We have examined the flight paths as they relate to population density maps of the city and have concluded that there is not a viable industrial or transportation corridor in this area that would be navigable while enabling reduced noise exposure for residents of Toronto. If the current flight path were to be relocated slightly southward, it would simply transit over new communities from Etobicoke through Don Valley.

I regret that we are unable to offer a more satisfying solution to resident’s complaints regarding air traffic in their neighbourhoods. I would remind you that air traffic has always flown over Don Valley West and that volumes have not changed, although we recognize that different residents may be experiencing higher levels of air traffic as a result of the arrival flight path being in a slightly different location, approximately 1.8 km south of where it was previously.

I also understand that some residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of communication that occurred before the change. We will examine our methods of notification to see if improvements can be made. However, none of this changes the overriding fact that NAV CANADA must ensure that flight paths meet international design standards and the standard required the previous flight path to be relocated.


Michelle Bishop
Director, Government and Public Affairs

c.c. Councillor John Parker (Ward 26)
Kathleen Wynne, MPP (Don Valley West)
Lorrie McKee. GTAA