Background on 1983 Tripartite Agreement, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Slot Allocation Process, NEF Contour Restrictions, Runway Safety End Area Regulations and 2009 BBTCA Noise Study
Toronto (May 3, 2013) - On April 10, 2013, Porter Airlines announced its desire to bring new aircraft to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA). Many key elements of Porter’s proposal would require amendments to the 1983 Tripartite Agreement, which was executed by the City of Toronto, Transport Canada and the Toronto Port Authority (TPA).
Also on April 10th, the TPA issued a statement advising that it was aware of the announcement made yesterday by Porter Airlines. As an independent operation, it is up to Porter to pursue its own business plan for the benefit of its customers, shareholders and employees. The TPA takes no position on Porter’s business aspirations.
The TPA has operated the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA) based upon the terms of the 1983 Tripartite Agreement for the past 30 years, and will continue to do so. The TPA will not consider any change of use to the airport until a determination is first made by the elected representatives on Toronto City Council regarding Porter’s proposed changes to the 1983 Tripartite Agreement.
It also issued a backgrounder regarding the 2012 environmental assessment for the improvements to the Marine Exclusion Zone. http://www.torontoport.com/About-TPA/Media-Room/Press-Releases/Background-on-2012-Marine-Exclusion-Zone-(MEZ)-Pro.aspx
There has been considerable public comment, speculation and misinformation regarding the:
- Existing 1983 Tripartite Agreement;
- BBTCA slot allocation process;
- NEF (noise exposure forecast) noise contour that governs the quantum of slots available at BBTCA; and
- Open Skies, among other topics.
Porter’s proposal has raised media interest in several issues, including the above, that pertain to the existing operation of the BBTCA. The TPA has attempted to address many of those items in the following backgrounder:
Questions and Answers:
What are the current restrictions or limits on the types of commercial aircraft permitted under the 1983 Tripartite Agreement?
The 1983 Tripartite Agreement permits the specific operation of certain commercially registered aircraft, such as the Bombardier Dash-8 series, to use the BBTCA. The Dash 8 Q400 aircraft variation is a certified aircraft allowed to operate in Canada.
On July 19, 1985, an amendment to the Tripartite Agreement clause 1(d) added the Dash-8 to the definition of general aviation permitted to operate at BBTCA. General aviation, as it is defined in the Tripartite Agreement, includes all civil aviation activities undertaken by individuals, organizations or corporate entities engaged in the operation of commercially registered aircraft. The aircraft known under the trade name of Bombardier Q400 is aeronautically classified as a DHC-8 400 Dash aircraft, which is included in the Tripartite Agreement definition of general aviation, and is therefore compliant with the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
On September 25, 2006, Transport Canada issued Porter Airlines Inc. an air operating certificate.
That the 1983 Tripartite Agreement, and Transport Canada, already allow or deny a wide variety of aircraft to operate at the BBTCA due to the existing strict noise restrictions complies with all Canada-U.S. bilateral air transport agreements (aka “Open Skies”).
What are the current restrictions or limits on commercial aircraft noise within the 1983 Tripartite Agreement?
The 1983 Tripartite Agreement requires that general aviation or commercial aircraft, such as a Bombardier Q400, operate within a calculated noise decibel ceiling when measured from three different angles (flyover, approach and lateral). The Q400 series currently flown by Porter and Air Canada do meet these prescribed standards and have been certified by Transport Canada for use at the BBTCA . The sound profile of the Q400 series aircraft is actually quieter than the Dash 8-100, which flew from what was then known as Toronto City Centre Airport for over 20 years.
Does the Bombardier CS-100 aircraft comply with the current aircraft noise limits as laid out in the existing 1983 Tripartite Agreement?
According to the TPA’s understanding of Bombardier’s technical specifications and performance targets, the CS-100 noise profile would comply with the noise decibel ceiling that is already permitted under the existing 1983 Tripartite Agreement and applied to the Q400 turboprops that service the BBTCA. Obviously, the fact that the CS-100 is a jet means that it would still not be permitted to service the BBTCA due to the existing jet ban within the 1983 Tripartite Agreement, even though the its noise profile reportedly complies with the Tripartite Agreement’s existing strict noise decibel ceiling.
If Porter succeeded in its efforts to amend the 1983 Tripartite Agreement to allow for the CS-100 to service the BBTCA, would other smaller or mid-size commercial jets, such as the Airbus 318 series, Boeing 737 or business jets automatically be allowed to land at BBTCA, as well?
No. Since 1983, the TPA has required that all commercial aircraft comply with the strict noise limits defined in the Tripartite Agreement. According to the best available current information, the only jet aircraft used (or forecast to be used) by commercial airline carriers that appears to comply with the aircraft noise limits as laid out in the existing 1983 Tripartite Agreement is the Bombardier CS-100 aircraft. And, in the case of the CS-100, this is based upon the TPA’s understanding of Bombardier’s technical specifications and performance targets for the CS-100 aircraft currently under development.
If the Tripartite Agreement is amended as proposed by Porter, and a foreign airline also acquired the then-approved Bombardier CS-100 aircraft and applied to start a service between the BBTCA and New Jersey, Boston or Chicago, what would be the process for that airline?
At the present time, there are no new commercial available slots to grant to any airline for any purpose. If slots were to become available at a later date, under the terms of the BBTCA’s Commercial Carrier Operating Agreement template, priority would first go to airline applicants that were proposing new destinations that are not currently served by the BBTCA.
As such, under existing slot allocation rules, applications to service destinations such as Orlando, Florida and the Caribbean would take priority over applications for slots to serve New Jersey, Boston or Chicago as the latter are already served by existing BBTCA carriers.
This process was utilized during the 2009-10 BBTCA commercial slot allocation process, which was upheld in a decision released on July 22, 2010 by the Federal Court of Canada following a Judicial Review at the request of Air Canada.
Toronto Councillor Adam Vaughan has said that in the case of “U.S. air carriers that fly small jets”, “every” U.S. airline would get “exactly the same access” to the BBTCA if Porter’s proposals are approved by Toronto City Council and the 1983 Tripartite Agreement is eventually amended to allow jets. Is this possible?
No. For 30 years, the 1983 Tripartite Agreement’s strict noise limits have ensured that no aircraft are allowed to use the BBTCA that do not meet these longstanding restrictions. Whether an air carrier is Canadian, American or European, for example, the 1983 Tripartite Agreement’s rules control aircraft noise emissions – and therefore the type of aircraft that can use the BBTCA – which cannot be overruled by any international air treaty agreements. According to the best available current information, the only commercial jet aircraft that appears to comply with the aircraft noise limits as laid out in the existing 1983 Tripartite Agreement, which Porter has not asked to change, is the Bombardier CS-100 aircraft.
How noisy are the Q400 aircraft that currently operate at the BBTCA?
The TPA engaged the independent consulting group Jacobs Consultancy to conduct a “noise capture” engineering study. The study was done from six different Waterfront locations between May 13 and May 22, 2009. The report, published in February 2010, was made available on the TPA website
. It found, for example, that all of the following elements
of life in the southern part of the City of Toronto generated a decibel reading at that specific residential location equal to or greater than a Q400 in either take-off or landing mode at the BBTCA as captured from that specific residential location:
i) The Don Valley Parkway and the excavation of the West Donlands (for neighbours at Queen and River Street);
ii) Noise from the Gardiner Expressway and nearby construction vehicles (for residents at City Place); and
iii) A motorcycle on Stadium Road (for the condo owner on the balcony of 680 Queen’s Quay, unit 702).
What changes would have to take place to the BBTCA footprint to accommodate Porter’s proposals?
According to Porter’s public statements, the existing runways would need to be extended by approximately 168 metres, which would be within the existing Marine Exclusion Zones which currently extend 309 metres into the Toronto Harbour area at each end of the airport.
The Marine Exclusion Zones may need to be adjusted to accommodate the aircraft approach slope and the larger vessels utilizing the harbour.
How much of Toronto’s Waterfront has been built on landfill over the years?
In the 1800s, the footprint of the Toronto Islands was approximately 60% of what it is today. A combination of sand, landfill and reclamation has increased the acreage of the scenic elements of the Toronto Islands over many decades.
The land on the City-side of the Toronto Harbour has also changed over time.
In 1906, for example, the current Portlands district was largely water and formed part of Ashbridges Bay. In 1935, the City of Toronto, Federal Government and Toronto Harbour Commissioners decided to construct what is now the BBTCA; the majority of the airport property was built on landfill and reclaimed land.
In recent decades, development along Toronto’s Waterfront has required that portions of Toronto Harbour (and by extension Lake Ontario) have been reclaimed with landfill to create the sites for such property developments as: Corus Building, George Brown College campus, Harbourfront Centre, Harbour Square condominium development, Pinnacle Condominium development, Queen’s Quay Terminal, Redpath Sugar plant, The Toronto Star Building, Waterpark Place Towers I/II/III (including the new RBC Canadian headquarters currently under construction) and the 10 York Street condominium development (owned by the City of Toronto).
About the Toronto Port Authority (www.torontoport.com)
The Toronto Port Authority (TPA) owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, the Port of Toronto (Terminals 51 and 52), and Toronto's Outer Harbour Marina. In addition to moving more than two million passengers through the airport in 2012, the Port Authority provides transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port, and owns and operates Toronto’s largest freshwater marina. The Toronto Port Authority was incorporated on June 8, 1999 as a business enterprise under the Canada Marine Act as the successor to the Toronto Harbour Commissioners.
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