August 23, 2018

Toronto Pearson Swallows More Buttonville Airspace


Nav Canada has announced they will lower the ceiling of the Buttonville (YKZ) ceiling to 2000 feet ASL (1350 feet AGL) from the current 2500 feet ASL. Additionally, they will expand Toronto’s (YYZ) terminal control area (TCA) to encompass most of Buttonville’s class D control zone (see illustration). According to Nav Canada, these measures were taken “To enhance the management of aircraft when [YYZ’s] runways 23 and 23R are in use”. Changes take effect Sept. 13.

This follows on recent threats by the airport’s private owners to shut down the airport this year and develop the lands for commercial and residential use. However, the closing of the airport has been postponed until at least 2023 due to bureaucratic delays involving land rezoning and related issues. Nav Canada had also planned to close YKZ’s tower in July of this year but it too has delayed the closure pending more clarity on the airport’s official closing date. In the meantime, they have reduced the tower’s operating hours from 08:00-23:00 to 08:00-20:00.

Buttonville Flying Club (COPA Flight 44) member Phil Lightstone acknowledges Nav Canada’s position that the airspace grab will enhance safety, but points out, “There will remain only 350 feet between circuit height and the new TCA floor, so pilots will need good radio and communications skills to coordinate their movements with the differing controlling authorities”.

Lightstone points out that for many, Buttonville’s proximity to Highway 404 makes it a much more convenient airport. “It’s been a bit of a roller coaster with airport businesses, flight schools and aircraft leaving for other nearby airports but then returning when closing dates have been pushed down the road”.