Quebec’s Mirabel airport (CYMX) will soon see a return of air traffic controllers to its tower. According to a recent Aeronautical Study undertaken by Nav Canada, a 16-hour airport control service was recommended along with the retention of a 24-hour FSS weather observation service together with an 8-hour airport advisory service, and a review of the airspace boundaries at Mirabel and its surrounding areas.
This increase in services, which follows on the implementation of a ground frequency last year, comes as Mirabel continues to see year-on-year growth in aircraft movements. The mix of cargo airlines, medevac flights, RCAF operations with CF-18s, Bell Helicopter’s, Bombardier’s and Airbus’s manufacturing facilities, the growth in the number of flight schools, both Mirabel-based and others who use Mirabel for training, and other general aviation operations have all combined to create a situation where tighter control of air traffic is desirable for both safety and efficiency reasons.
“According to our policies, airport control services may be provided where total annual aircraft movements exceed 60,000,” Nav Canada’s Ben Girard, VP for Operational Support, told eFlight. “Mirabel saw over 69,000 movements in 2017, and exceeded 75,000 in 2018. The number and the mix of traffic justifies the return of air traffic services at Mirabel.” In comparison, Mirabel saw little more than 24,000 movements in 2008.
The reactivation of Mirabel’s control tower will be accompanied with the implementation of a Class C control zone, which will revert to a Class E control zone for the eight-hour period the tower is closed.
As general aviation continues to grow at Mirabel, private hangars are becoming available. Since 2016, local company Mirajet has already built 15 hangars close up to the control tower, with direct access to taxiway India. Five more hangars, that can also be used for business purposes, are in the planning stages.
Once seen as one of the federal government’s biggest boondoggles ever, built in 1975 at a cost of around $500 million (2.2 billion in today’s dollars), many Canadian taxpayers will likely find solace knowing that the airport did not turn out to be a complete financial loss.