22 March 2018

CYOW noise NOIse NOISE!!!

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I attended Ottawa Macdonald Cartier International Airport Noise Management Committee meeting on 21 March 2018. It was one of the best noise management meetings I have attended. Neighbours of the airport were represented by 5 local folks. Also at the meeting was representation from Ottawa Flying Club and Ottawa Aviation Services. Others attendees represented the Airport Authority, Nav Canada, Transport Canada, the city of Ottawa and the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association.

The flight training folks that operate light aircraft generate most noise complaints at Ottawa. More on this issue in a moment. There are relatively few noise complaints about jet or turboprop airliners. In fact, complaints about airliners mostly happens during unusual operations, like when a runway is closed for maintenance. One example was the spike in complaints from the Aylmer area of Quebec when due to runway maintenance more airliners landed on runway 14. That put them lower over Aylmer than normally happens. They were seen and heard.

As noted above, the bulk of noise complaints were due to light aircraft in the circuit for either runway 22 or 04. The community representatives asked questions and gave their observations on the traffic they found most distressing. They were very concerned with noise level and frequency of noise events. The representatives from the Ottawa Flying Club and Ottawa Aviation Services said they would do their best to mitigate the noise. They offered to look a flight paths and altitudes in the circuits. There was some suggestion that some circuit aircraft were flying too low, but the airport and Transport Canada said there was little proof of frequent low flying. Both flight training organizations noted that they chastise low flyers and impose corrective measures on the pilots, even cancelling their flying privileges when necessary. They also noted that they would consider quieter mufflers, if they were available and certified in Canada.

One of the airport’s neighbours asked if the flight training could be stopped or at least less frequent, particularly on weekends. The two flight training operations noted that they would go out of business if they could not service their customers/members on the weekends. One of the complainers suggested that the flight training operations were putting their business needs above those impacted by the noise. Both flight training operations offered to do all they could to mitigate the noise. I thought they were most respectful in not pointing out that their families’ well being depended on doing perfectly legal activity of flight training in a manner consistent with all aviation regulations.

Both flight training operations offered to take the locals for familiarization flights so they could see what pilots see. Hopefully that will happen.

The airport noted that they investigate noise complaints but found it very difficult to resolve them without specific information on the time and location of the events. Transport Canada noted that they were conducting investigations of 3 infractions, but that there really was not a problem of frequent low flying at Ottawa airport. They also noted that circuits at Ottawa are a hundred feet or so higher than is the standard 1000 feet above an airport’s elevation across the country.

It was agreed that meetings with community representatives would occur more regularly.

Finally it was noted that runway 04-22 will experience short term closures in the near future. Pilots are reminded to check NOTAMS.

Michael Shaw, former Captain of COPA Flight 8 Ottawa, airmail@rogers.com