• Test of Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program

    Toronto Pearson tested a summer weekend runway alternation program for eight weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) in Summer 2018.

    As Canada’s busiest airport, Toronto Pearson understands its operations and growing demand for air travel have an impact on surrounding communities, which is why we are always working towards reducing noise impacts. One recent example is our three-year collaboration with NAV CANADA on The Six Ideas: A Quieter Operations Roadmap.

    One of the Six Ideas consulted on is a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program. Many international airports use this kind of program to provide residents with relief from aircraft noise by rotating runway usage during periods when fewer aircraft are arriving and departing. These rotations are scheduled in advance so that residents know when to anticipate relief from aircraft noise. Toronto Pearson’s summer weekend runway alternation program is Idea 5 of the Six Ideas.

    Testing the Weekend Runway Alternation Program will help us validate the anticipated benefits to communities. It will also allow communities to provide us with informed feedback on their experience during the test. If you experienced a change in airplane noise or traffic levels as part of the test, please fill out a quick survey to help us understand your overall opinion of the program.

    Test Details:

    • Dates: Weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) from July 28 to September 16, 2018
    • Time: 6:30 a.m. to midnight
    • Scope: East/west runways only

    The test is now complete.

    The survey period ran from September 24 – October 9 and is now closed. Thank you to all residents that provided feedback on the program overall.

    Next steps for the program will be available closer to the end of the year, after an assessment of operational data and community feedback.

    Was I involved in this test?

    Check the list of postal codes involved in the test by clicking the link and using CTRL + F to search the document for your postal code.

     
     

    Use your mouse to drag the map to the area where you live.
    Zoom in on the map by holding CTRL + using your mouse scroll wheel
    or using the zoom in/zoom out buttons at the bottom left of the map.

    Highlighted Communities Non-highlighted communities

    Communities highlighted on the map experienced changes in aircraft operating overhead every other weekend during the test.

    • Group A communities are highlighted in blue and will have the same relief weekends
    • Group B communities are highlighted in green and will have the same relief weekends
    • During relief weekends, residents in these communities should have experience significantly reduced aircraft traffic levels compared to their current experience
    • During non-relief weekends, residents in these communities either saw the same amount of aircraft operating overhead, or a potentially increased frequency compared to their current experience
     

    Communities outside of the highlighted areas should not have experienced changes to levels of aircraft traffic overhead during the test.

    • The north/south runways are not included in the program but, like always, were used if the weather conditions or safety dictates a change in operations
     

    Pre-Test Question and Answer Guide

    When can I expect relief in my community?

    • Group A: Communities under the final approach/initial departure paths in the North-East and in the South-West
    • Group B: Communities under the final approach/initial departure paths in the North-West and in the South-East
    TEST WEEKEND GROUP A GROUP B
    July 28 and 29 Relief Weekend Non-Relief Weekend
    August 4 and 5 Non-Relief Weekend Relief Weekend
    August 11 and 12 Relief Weekend Non-Relief Weekend
    August 18 and 19 Non-Relief Weekend Relief Weekend
    August 25 and 26 Relief Weekend Non-Relief Weekend
    September 1 and 2 Non-Relief Weekend Relief Weekend
    September 8 and 9 Relief Weekend Non-Relief Weekend
    September 15 and 16 Non-Relief Weekend Relief Weekend

    To continue to meet capacity requirements throughout the Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program, the operational plan needs to provide options for both wind directions when using the east/west runways. For this reason, communities kitty-corner to each other will have the same relief weekends.

     

    Will the relief be continuous for the whole weekend?

    Continuing to meet capacity requirements is one of the essential success criteria for the Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program test. There are three east/west runways, and the operational configurations we use for these runways during the test depends on how many aircraft are arriving or departing.

    We predict that for many hours of the day during a relief weekend, we will be able to solely use one runway for arrivals and another runway for departures – a Land 1/Depart 1 configuration. However, there will be some hours when there are more arrivals or departures scheduled that one runway can support.

    For example: let’s say the arrival rate that can be supported on one runway is 37 arrivals an hour, but there are 44 aircraft scheduled to land. We would need to offload those additional 7 arrivals onto the runway being used for departures, when there is a gap in departure traffic. The same is possible for departures that need to be offloaded onto an arrival runway.

    Operational Configurations

    Land 1/Depart 1 Uses two runways: one to land, one to depart
    Land 1 + Offload/Depart 1 Uses two runways: one to land, one to depart
    The departure runway is also used to land when there are gaps in departure traffic
    Land 1/Depart 1 + Offload Uses two runways: one to land, one to depart
    The arrival runway is also used to depart when there are gaps in arrival traffic
    Triple Three runways in use: one runway to both arrive and depart, the second to arrive and the third to depart

    On a relief weekend, communities can expect significantly reduced aircraft noise. However, there will be some periods throughout the relief weekend where capacity demands will require the use of more than one runway – particularly during offload and triple operations.

    During the Technical Analysis of a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program, we studied historical and projected traffic levels to better understand which hours of the day would allow for a Land 1/Depart 1 configuration (meaning full relief for communities).

    The chart below provides hourly rates from 2015, and a look ahead to 2021 and 2026 as the airport grows. Reviewing the 2015 data will provide a relative understanding of when to expect full or partial relief in your community during a relief weekend.

    Historic and Projected Hourly Configurations for Saturdays and Sundays

     

    Why test the Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program?

    Testing a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program will help us validate anticipated benefits to communities.

    A Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program is a noise sharing program. Our 2017 Residents’ Reference Panel discussed noise sharing specifically and recommended that the airport only pursue a noise sharing program if relief afforded to communities is meaningful and predictable.

    Our Technical Analysis on a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program predicts that a runway alternation schedule using the east/west runways should be able to be followed as planned 98% of the time; Toronto Pearson believes this fits the Residents’ Reference Panel’s definition of meaningful and predictable.

    Testing the program for eight weekends will allow us to collect enough operational data to verify if our predictions were correct.

    Testing will also allow communities to experience the program and provide us with informed feedback. The community experience during the test will be one of four essential components in determining the success of the test.

    A final decision about the permanent implementation of a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program will follow the testing and assessment of operational data and community feedback.

    Why aren’t the north/south runways included in the alternation program?

    During the Technical Analysis of a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program, we studied two operational concepts and measured them against the same set of criteria.

    Criteria for program viability:

    • Ability to adhere to a published schedule
    • Maintain current landing/departing capacity requirements
    • Reflect the values and guiding principles provided by our 2017 Residents’ Reference Panel
    OPTION 1
    Both east/west AND north/south runways
    included in runway alternation program
    X Not feasible
    Did not meet all criteria; not included in final proposal for Idea 5 – Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program.
    Residents living north or south of the airport will NOT experience a change in aircraft operating overhead due to Idea 5.
    OPTION 2
    Only east/west runways
    included in runway alternation program
    Feasible Met all viability criteria; final proposal for Idea – Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program based on this option. Residents living east and west of the airport will experience changes in aircraft operating overhead due to Idea 5.

    What criteria needs to be met for the Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program to become permanent?

    The decision to permanently implement a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program at Toronto Pearson will rely on four factors:

    1. Schedule Reliability – Can we operate the runways according to the schedule we published?
    2. Accuracy of Operational Impact – We anticipated some changes to the community experience during the non-relief weekends. Does our data from the testing period – like altitudes, noise, and traffic levels – align with our predictions?
    3. Operational Feasibility – Did the test identify any unforeseen operational issues that would prevent implementation on a permanent basis?
    4. Community Feedback – Do the survey results indicate that communities find the Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program provides meaningful and predictable relief?

    A final decision about the permanent implementation of a Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program will follow the testing and assessment of operational data and community feedback. We will report back on the results of the test in late 2018/early 2019.

    Mid-Test Question and Answer Guide

    Have the flight paths changed as part of the Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program test?

    No, the flight paths have not changed. Flight paths are determined by NAV CANADA.

    I’m in Group A or Group B, why am I still hearing aircraft on my relief weekend?

    The runway alternation program is meant to bring partial relief every other weekend to communities under the initial departure/final approach flight paths for our east/west runways.

    A relief weekend only is defined as partial relief because demand for arrivals and departures is ongoing. Sometimes this means using two runways for landings or two runways for take-offs. You can read more about this in the Will the relief be continuous for the whole weekend? section.

    I’m in Group A or Group B, but I didn’t hear aircraft noise before the test started. Should I expect that to change?

    The Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program schedules the primary runways to be used on Saturdays and Sundays; it has not changed the flight paths associated with those runways.

    Group A and Group B zones were created along and around the arrivals and departures flight paths from each of our east/west runways.

    These zones are reflective of areas that see aircraft operations on a regular basis, depending on the weather, direction of the wind, and aircraft traffic levels. While residents in these communities may not notice the aircraft all the time, the areas are close to our most commonly used arrival and departure routes.

    I’m in Group A or Group B, but I’m still hearing noise at nighttime. Is that supposed to happen?

    The Weekend Runway Alternation Program Test takes place on Saturdays and Sundays between 6:30 a.m. and midnight.

    Toronto Pearson operates 24/7/365, and we have two nighttime programs in place to help manage particularly bothersome nighttime aircraft noise. The Weekend Runway Alternation Program Test can only take place outside of the hours when these nighttime programs are in effect.

    Toronto Pearson has a Night Flight Restriction Program to manage the impact of aircraft noise during the nighttime hours of 12:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Transport Canada has limited the annual total number of nighttime flights that can occur at Toronto Pearson. The annual total number of flights gets divvied up to determine the number of flights than can happen each night. We just recently gave an overview presentation at our community meeting on June 21, 2018.

    We also have a nighttime Preferential Runway System that gets used between 12:00 midnight to 6:30 a.m. These preferred runways are chosen because the flight paths associated with them fly over the fewest people. Currently, the order of priority for preferred runways are: Runway 23, 33R and 24R for departures, and Runway 05, 15L and 06L for arrivals. In Spring 2018, we did a large public consultation on Six Ideas to reduce noise impacts for our neighbours, and updating the Preferential Runway System was one of them; a test of the proposed new system may occur late this year or early next year.

    I don’t live in Group A or Group B, but I’m also impacted by aircraft noise. Are there any programs to reduce aircraft noise for me?

    We know that the airport’s operations can have an impact on surrounding communities, even when you’re not on the final approach or initial departure portion of a flight path. That’s why we have committed to growing responsibly and exploring a range of noise mitigation programs.

    Some of our recent publications outline current and upcoming initiatives:.

    • 2018-2022 Noise Management Action Plan (NMAP)
      • This action plan outlines ten promises to the community and shares several initiatives that we’re undertaking to deliver on those promises (including things like how we engage with the community, launching a quiet fleet incentive program, and exploring noise insulation programs, etc.)
    • Residents’ Reference Panel Report on Airport Growth and Noise Fairness
      • In 2017, the GTAA conducted an outreach and consultation program on Airport Growth and Noise Fairness, including a Residents’ Reference Panel. These conversations resulted in a set of Values and Guiding Principles, co-created with the community, to guide the GTAA’s decisions and ensure the community voice is reflected in the choices the airport makes.
     

    How was the Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program consulted on and communicated?

    In Spring 2018, the GTAA and NAV CANADA completed an extensive public consultation on Six Ideas to reduce noise impacts for our neighbours based on a two-year technical study. A Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program is Idea 5 of the Six Ideas.

    The consultation communications reached: 2.9 million GTA residents through advertisements; 250,000 through social media impressions; more than 160,000 residents through phone calls; elected officials across the region through briefings. This outreach resulted in more than 8,700 website visits, 430 attendees to 15 public meetings, and more than 900 survey responses.

    At our June 21, 2018 public Community Environment and Noise Advisory Committee (CENAC), we presented an update on the Six Ideas and announced that we would move forward with the testing for a summer weekend runway alternation program.

    Following that announcement, we launched a communications campaign to advertise the Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program to communities that may see a change in operations. This included full page colour newspaper advertisements in Metroland papers across the region reaching more than 747,000 readers. As this information is technical, we included an offer for translation services in five of the most common languages in the area at the bottom of the ad.

    In addition, we sent an automated phone call advising of the program to 163,000+ residents within Group A and Group B zones. We briefed and communicated the program to elected officials across the region. We promoted the program in our Checking In e-newsletter that reaches approximately 17,000 readers. And, we continue to share information through our Toronto Pearson Twitter and Facebook.

    Residents with questions can contact our Noise Management Office at 416-247-7682 or community.engagement@gtaa.com – or you can submit a noise complaint.