Noise pollution caused by jet aircraft is (or should be) a major concern in any large city. Jet travel is omnipresent in every city in the developed world and noise pollution is a downside of being near an airport, including the new Pickering airport. Aircraft already overfly much of the region as low as 3000 ft on the way into Pearson airport. Today aircraft from a local flight school overfly the land reserved for the new airport as low as 500 ft agl ( above ground level). But now jet aircraft will be taking off and landing in North Pickering.
Who will be impacted by the aircraft noise and how loud will the planes flying overhead into Pickering airport really be? The answer to these questions will depend on your location, the aircraft’s height above the ground and the type of aircraft. Thanks to some farsighted planning by Transport Canada, and more recent legislation by the federal and provincial governments, with a few exceptions, the approaches to the new Pickering airport are mostly over the Greenbelt, farm or parkland.
Thanks to the universal use of GPS navigation technology at the new airport, jet aircraft are expected to be following a consistent, narrow path into or out of the new airport. Noise pollution from aircraft landing or taking off from Pickering airport will follow a narrow path aligned with the runways. This type of narrow corridor is now amplifying noise pollution at nearby Pearson airport, now landlocked inside an urban environment. In Pearson’s case, this is concentrating jet aircraft noise into a narrow corridor over existing residential areas, prompting some residents to claim that since 2012 this is creating new “noise ghettos “. Depending on aircraft size, height above ground and the glide path of the approach, aircraft noise from a medium jet starts to be significant approximately 5-7 nautical miles from the end of the runway.
Unlike Toronto Pearson airport, Pickering Airport’s approach paths are designed to be mostly over farm or parkland. The airport will almost certainly be built in multiple phases, with the first phase requiring two runways, an East-West runway (10L-28R ) and a smaller crosswind runway 14-32 (updated from 15-33 for magnetic drift in the May 2017 TC PASZR). A future phase will add in a third runway, East-West 10R-28L. These runway headings and approaches are the same as presented in the “Pickering Airport Draft Plan Report” prepared by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority in 2004, and the mapping released by Transport Canada as part of the 2017 review of the Pickering Airport Site Zoning Regulation. The East-West runways will handle the vast majority of traffic. A map showing the area affected by the federal zoning regulations restricting development is on the Transport Canada website.
Graphic depictions of the approach path for Pickering’s 10L-28R runways with a 3 degree glide path are provided above for discussion purposes only. These charts are not approved for navigation purposes but are provided to dispel the myths around the approach paths. We hope that they will provide a better idea of the noise profile for the new airport. Once an aircraft starts its decent, noise heard under the glide path increases. To quote NATS.AERO, at 3nm from the runway (1000 ft agl) noise from an older medium jet can reach 70 dB. The lower the aircraft the greater the noise.
Even with the airport being in the government’s plan for more than 40 years, some limited development has taken place under the approach paths. These clusters of homes are the exceptions, not the rule, with the airports location and design expected to minimize noise pollution over nearby communities. Examples of some of these exceptions include the following (distances are in nautical miles, runway referenced is for landing traffic):
– The Hamlet of Brougham, which is inside the 1986 Transport Canada define 30 NEP zone.
– Greenwood , three NM (nautical miles ) off the end on 28L. (East of airport)
– Glasgow, 3 NM off the end of runway 14. (North of airport).
– Dickson Hill, 6 NM off the end of 10L. ( West of airport ).
It’s important to note what is not under these approach paths, such as the major communities of Claremont, Markham, Whitchurch -Stouffville and Pickering .
In fact, due to the careful original selection of the site, and ongoing compliance with federal and provincial regulations concerning building homes, schools and hospitals in noise sensitive areas, very few people are expected to be adversely affected. These straightforward facts stand in contrast to misinformation about the airport being spread by some for political or financial gain. Even the Stouffville town funded paper misrepresented the approach paths in its January and February 2018 edition.
Seriously, the airport has been in the government’s plan for 40 years, there is no excuse for approving the development of housing under the approach paths. The misinformation being spread by the town of Stouffville or other groups is completely inappropriate. There is no excuse for the use of FUD ( Fear, Uncertainty, Dread) to pull at the emotions of local residents, or to provide cover to fight for the development of noise sensitive lands.
Local municipal governments are encouraged to continue to deny noise sensitive development within the 30 NEP contour for the airport, and under the well defined Pickering airport approach paths. The Greenbelt regulation facilitates such actions.
Aircraft and airport noise are complex subject matters, but the basic facts are clear, aircraft going into and out of Pickering airport will not be an undue burden on the community. Best of all, Building Pickering airport, with approach paths over farm land and the green belt, will cap and reduce jet noise over densely populated Toronto. Jet aircraft that today have no choice but to squeeze into congested Pearson airport over the heads of hundreds of thousands of Canadians, can now land at nearby Pickering airport instead.