Toronto Port Authority (TPA), owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA), recently outlined the key parameters through which it will assess Porter Airlines’ proposal to permit jet aircraft and extend the runway at BBTCA, should Toronto City Council (Council) approve the plan. TPA Chairman Mark McQueen outlined the key social, environmental and economic factors that would be considered as part of TPA’s own review process. Mr. McQueen also discussed important regulatory changes that are expected to impact the airport and its operations, regardless of Council’s decision on Porter’s proposal.

“When it comes to the subject of jets, TPA will examine each component of this issue from the standpoint of ‘Do No Harm’ to ensure that the airport’s operations fit into Toronto’s waterfront and South Core,” said McQueen. “As a responsible airport operator, we owe it to the community and to the more than two million passengers that travel through Billy Bishop Airport, to examine new technology that can make our operations more efficient and sustainable,” he continued.

Transport Canada has been advising Canadian airports on additional requirements for runway safety. The by-product of this work is expected to soon result in regulated Runway End Safety Areas (RESAs) for all major Canadian airports.

Whether or not Porter’s proposal is accepted by Council, the anticipated RESA regulations would require the addition of at least 50 metres of additional runway on either end of the existing runway. “Airport safety remains our top priority,” said McQueen. “TPA will work closely with Transport Canada to explore ways to accommodate this regulatory change that may soon require us to extend the current runway by 50 metres to accommodate our existing turboprop carrier services.” In his speech, McQueen stressed that, as the owner and operator of the airport and the agency charged with paying for all capital expenditures associated with Porter’s jet proposal, there must be a sound business case for TPA, as well as Porter.

He further stressed that, should Council vote to allow jet aircraft to fly into Billy Bishop Airport, these aircraft must meet the airport’s existing noise restrictions, under which the airport has operated since 1983. “The Tripartite Agreement limits the amount of noise the airport can generate each year. The 1983 NEF 25 noise contour and the ICAO noise ceiling make up the strictest noise regime in Canada, and one of the most stringent globally,” said McQueen “These noise limitations have been in place since 1983 for the benefit of every Torontonian. Our job is to ensure that the airport’s operations fit into, and not dominate, Toronto’s lively Waterfront and South Core area.”

The speech also reinforced that BBTCA is slot-controlled with 101 commercial takeoffs and 101 commercial landings daily. No additional slots are anticipated to become available in the near future. If Council approves Porter’s proposal, the airline must continue to operate under the airport’s current night curfew, which ensures no private or commercial operations between 11:00 pm and 6:45 a.m. Pearson Airport, by comparison, has 97 commercial movements during Billy Bishop’s night curfew.

Billy Bishop Airport, which continues to attract more travellers, is a multi-purpose facility used by medevac aircraft, private pilots, commercial charter operations and military search and rescue aircraft.

Porter Airlines has submitted two proposals to the City of Toronto that, if approved, would permit jet aircraft at BBTCA and the extension of the airport’s main runway. These proposals would require amendments to the 1983 Tripartite Agreement that governs BBTCA. For either proposal to move forward, approval from all three signatories – TPA, the City of Toronto and Transport Canada – would be required. Any aircraft that would be permitted at the airport must meet the noise restrictions set out in the Tripartite Agreement.

TPA has operated BBTCA based upon the terms of the 1983 Tripartite Agreement for the past 30 years, and will continue to do so. 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.