Submitted by Phil Lightstone.

Toronto-Buttonville airport (YKZ) is seeing a reduction of Nav Canada’s control tower services. Since October 11, 2018, the tower has been operating only during the hours of 08:00 to 17:00 local time. There is speculation that, effective January 3, 2019, the tower will be permanently closed. However, COPA has learned that no decision has been reached and that this date is only speculative. We will keep you updated of any decision as soon as possible.

Regardless of the outcome in Buttonville, a review of MF procedures is warranted as there are a number of airports across the country that either temporarily become MF during tower closures, or are permanently subject to MF procedures.

Arrivals into MF airports require the pilot of the incoming aircraft to establish one-way communications on the mandatory frequency five minutes (not nautical miles) before entering the MF zone (as depicted on VNC and VTA maps). An aircraft travelling at 120 knots groundspeed will be required to make the radio call 10 nm before penetrating the MF zone. The radio call must include aircraft registration, type, position and intentions. Proper pre-flight planning will be required to ensure safe operations into and out airports subject to MFs.

TCCA’s Paul Baldasaro recommends the following risk mitigation factors: be fit for flight; review flight procedures published in the CFS; focus attention on the flight at hand; provide extra time for the pre-flight and flight; take more fuel; prepare the communications script; know the frequencies along the route of flight; be careful taxing while communicating; be organized and maintain a sterile cockpit environment.

The airport environment and operating procedures into and out of Buttonville have changed very little in the last 40 years. The airspace around Buttonville is now undergoing significant changes. Extra attention and vigilance should be paid over the course of the next few months to enhance safety.