Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) Releases a Review of the Pickering Lands Needs Assessment Study

Press Release - September 30, 2011


Transport Canada (TC) engaged the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) to conduct a Study of the need for retention of the Pickering Lands for an airport and their report contains some alarming observations and recommendations about General Aviation (GA).

In the announcement of the report, TC claims to have performed a due diligence exercise to ensure completeness and adequacy and that they will prepare a federal plan for the Pickering Lands using the Study report for guidance.

COPA has just completed a review of the GTAA’s work to check the validity of the report’s findings concerning GA and also advise TC about the need to address GA’s needs, based on the facts that its review uncovered.

The conclusions drawn by the review, conducted by Malone Given Parsons Ltd., differ dramatically from the GTAA’s report, in particular in the trends and in the ability for area airports to handle or accept additional GA traffic to the degree reported by the GTAA. For example, the review concludes that the GTAA report overstates the 2032 system capacity for GA and corporate jets by a factor of three in terms of movements, and a factor of six on the capacity for basing aircraft at the various existing airports.

“From our review of TC statistics and interviews with area airport managers to gather the facts we conclude that, contrary the GTAA’s perception, GA is not declining. Furthermore, airport managers confirm that they are unable or unwilling to handle the level of GA traffic that GTAA assumes can be accommodated. Our review also updates the report with facts that have a significant impact on the GTAA’s findings, such as that Buttonville airport will in fact close and Billy Bishop airport is not able to take any appreciable increase in GA traffic. From this intensive review, we conclude that a new airport in the Toronto area is needed now,” said COPA President and CEO Kevin Psutka.

A related concern that the GTAA’s Study brings to light is that there is an urgent need for a systems approach to GA, spearheaded by TC. “The conclusions of the GTAA’s Study builds the case for retaining the Pickering Lands for a future airline airport, while it essentially writes off GA”, said Psutka. “This narrow focus, taken in isolation, would be damaging for the overall health of GA, not only in the GTA but well beyond. Recognition of the value of GA and consequent support in the form of a GA policy remains critical but absent from the federal government’s agenda.”

COPA represents Canadians who fly aircraft for personal transportation and recreation. Its mission is to protect Personal Aviation and promote it as a valued, integral and sustainable part of the Canadian Community.