Single engine light aircraft like this Cessna 150 draw a high share of noise complaints at Ottawa’s International Airport.
I attended Ottawa International Airport Authority’s Noise Management Committee meeting 7 June 2011. There is good noise news and bad. First the good news, Ottawa really does not have a noise problem. There was a increase in complaints from 55 in 2009 to 81 in 2010. At the same time there was a small increase in aircraft movements from 129,773 to 132,322. For every 1000 aircraft movements there are .61 complaints. I don’t have statistics for other airports but I am told that this is low in comparison with other major Canadian airports. As one would expect the majority of complaints come from residential areas, particularly for departures to the north that fly over the city off runway 32. Complaints generated by noisier aircraft like First Air’s now retired Boeing 727s have dropped. First Air replaced their B727s with Boeing 767s which are significantly quieter. Still military and noisier civil aircraft such as the older Boeing 737s generate some complaints. The airport is considering modifying its noise abatement procedures to limit the times of day when these noisier aircraft (Chapter 2) can operate. Such a change would be voluntary for Military activities.
The bad news is that many complaints are generated by light flight training aircraft operating on runway 04-22. Unfortunately the flight schools based at the airport chose not to attend the meeting. To mitigate this noise the Airport Authority is asking flight training and itinerant aircraft to turn crosswind after takeoff from runway 22 along Merivale Rd. I saw no reason why this could not be done to help mitigate noise. It would have been helpful if the based flight training operators had been at the meeting to comment on the proposal. My concern is that itinerant pilots likely would not know which road is Merivale Rd.
It was noted that there are a couple of repeat noise complainers, particularly about light aircraft. This is likely true at all airports. Nonetheless, if we can make safe small changes to our flight paths and practices to mitigate these complaints we should do so.
This figure shows current flight paths in blue along with the noise sensitive area in red. Following Merivale Rd. rather than over the noise sensitive area will not be difficult. Instructors can easily show student pilots the preferred routing to avoid noise complaints. This will move the downwind leg of the circuit farther from the airport and potentially increase risks if an engine failure occurs.
The other unusual complaint is generated by police aircraft. The Airport Authority obviously has no responsibility for this noise, although they do log the complaints. It was suggested that the police consider installing a quieter muffler system similar to those in use in Europe.
Interestingly there was also a discussion of the language used in Noise Abatement procedures, particularly, turbo-prop vs Turbo-jet. Apparently some more modern Turbo-fan aircraft do not believe the noise abatement semantics applies to them?
We light aircraft operators can do our part to mitigate aircraft noise that disturbs our neighbours. We certainly don’t want to see the Airport Authority give up on the north field and close it just because of noise we can control. Let’s do our part!