by Carter Mann, Director of Government Affairs and Communications, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities issued its final report following a study into the impacts of aircraft noise at major Canadian airports. The report, which puts forward sixteen recommendations to the federal government, criticizes several identified deficiencies in the regulatory and oversight regime currently in place for monitoring aircraft noise at Canadian airports. During its study, the Committee heard from 43 witnesses representing various airport authorities, air operators, academics, municipal and local governments, as well as community groups organized to combat increased air traffic and associated noise around airports. In addition, 32 written briefs were received from a similar array of groups.

Harshly critical of the oversight system for aircraft and airport noise, the report suggests that many neighbours feel left out of a process that does not provide a meaningful forum for stakeholder input. It highlighted concern that the 1996 privatization of Canada’s air navigation services to Nav Canada has made the process increasingly unable to “fairly consider and respond to public noise complaints given their financial relationship with airlines.” The report also pointed out that in 2017, across Canada’s four major airports, a total of 41 people were responsible for over 166,000 noise complaints – representing over 66 percent of all calls received.

In a supplementary opinion included in the report, the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) cited testimony from the group Comite antipollution des avions de Longueuil regarding the Saint-Hubert airport (CYHU) outside Montreal that pointed to the level of “small aircraft such as the Cessna 150 and Cessna 172” using the airport unequipped with “noise suppressors.” One of the NDP’s recommendations is for a ban on takeoffs and landings at major airports between 11 pm and 7 am. While Saint-Hubert was outside the scope of the Committee’s study, the NDP referenced it as “an example not to follow” and where the government should intervene to ensure “good relations between airport authorities and neighbouring communities.”

Indeed, while the scope of the study was limited to ‘major’ airports, the sixteen recommendations contain measures which could be applicable to all airports, such as reviewing policies that allow night flights, or that airport authorities and municipalities work together to ‘integrate’ long-term land-use planning around airports.

With the 2019 federal election just around the corner, this study serves as a reminder that Canadians’ freedom to fly is under constant scrutiny and needs to be protected. COPA will continue to ensure that General Aviation has a voice at the table to effectively represent our freedom to fly wherever it is threatened.

The committee’s full report can be viewed on the Parliament of Canada’s website.