• An Inside Look at Toronto Pearson

     Night Flight

    Have you ever wondered what it takes to keep an airport running? For most passengers travelling through the airport, what they see and experience at Toronto Pearson barely scratches the surface of what actually goes on behind-the-scenes on a daily basis. It’s a hive of activity 24/7 to ensure that 1,100 flights a day are able to safely takeoff and land at our airport.

    The following pages will help you learn more about what happens every day at Toronto Pearson. Before you start exploring, here are some fun facts about us.

    • Toronto Pearson covers 1,867 hectares and while we are known for our terminal buildings and runways, more than one third of our property is covered by grass, flood plains and land leased for agricultural purposes.
    • We have five runways that can each be used in either direction - takeoff and landing. The longest runway is 11,050 feet or 3.37 kilometers long – which is about six CN Towers if you laid them end-to-end.
    • We have 87 bridge gates and 33 commuter parking positions that can accommodate everything from the smallest Beechcraft 1900 to the world’s largest passenger plane – the 525-passenger Airbus A380.
    • More than 60 passenger airlines operate from Terminals 1 and 3, and more than a dozen cargo airlines, which connect Toronto to more than 180 destinations around the world.
    Did you know?
    • Flying Out of Toronto Pearson

      Every flight that leaves Toronto Pearson requires a team effort. On a daily basis, Toronto Pearson employees work closely with our airline and industry partners, including NAV Canada, Canadian Border Service Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to ensure passengers and cargo are able to get to their destinations quickly and easily.

      With a team of 38,000 people working at the airport, Toronto Pearson is like a small city. And with 47 million travellers passing through each year, it’s little wonder we work with so many partners to ensure things run as smoothly as possible. The Toronto Pearson family includes:

      • Firefighters (did you know we have two fire stations?)
      • Paramedics
      • Police officers
      • Customs and security staff
      • Weather observers
      • Environment specialists
      • Maintenance staff for runways, roadways, airfield grounds, and even underground systems
      • Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, millwrights
      • Translators and information staff
      • Airline agents and pilots
      • Flight Attendants and baggage handlers
      • Bus and delivery drivers
      • Taxi and limousine drivers
      • Security experts
      • Retail staff to provide you drinks, food, and services while you wait
      • Air traffic and apron controllers
      • Aircraft dispatchers, gate planners and facility schedulers
      • Dogs and birds
      • Architects, engineers, accountants, financial analysts, facility and retail planners, and lawyers


      At Toronto Pearson, the safety of our guests, employees, community and country is at the core of every decision we make. Together, this team works to make sure passengers, crew and cargo get where they’re going on time, safely and securely


    • Getting Off the Ground

      Every day, Toronto Pearson has approximately 1,100 flights taking off and landing and we have five runways. There are a number of factors that affect which runway an aircraft is directed to use. These factors include:

      Wind direction and speed Weather (hot, cold, rainy, foggy) Destination of aircraft
      Type of aircraft Weight of aircraft Runway length

      In addition to the technical flight requirements listed above, air traffic control also works to ensure that all aircraft taking off and landing are meeting Toronto Pearson and NAV Canada’s – the organization that manages all civilian (non-military) air traffic control in Canada – noise abatement procedures, which help us to reduce the impact of airport noise on our neighbours.

    • Taking Flight

      When taking off from Toronto Pearson, pilots must use what are known as Standard Instrument Departure (SID) routes or Departure Procedures (DP). SIDs are published in the Canada Air Pilot ensure that there is a common understanding among pilots about how they should be taking off from our airport. The procedures outline a number of special requirements such as:

      • • How quickly the airplane can climb to reach its cruising altitude  
      • • When the pilot can turn the airplane to head towards its final destination  
      • • What actions they need to take to reduce the noise of their takeoff 

      These procedures ensure safe and efficient operations at our airport.

    • Arriving at Toronto Pearson


      Once air traffic control has guided a plane to safely land at Toronto Pearson, the pilots are given directions to their assigned gate. Our taxiways follow the standards set by Transport Canada, which align with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards – the United Nations agency developed to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil (non-military) aviation.

      As Canada’s largest airport, many different types of planes need to land at Toronto Pearson. To ensure passengers are easily able to board and disembark as required, we have different gates that have been designed to accommodate different aircraft.

      Working with our partners  

      While you may never see them, many different airport employees are involved in preparing for the arrival of an airplane. Once the airplane is safely at the gate, there is lots of work to be done to unload the plane and get it ready for its next flight. Sometimes the turnaround time is as fast as one hour.

      For every passenger flight that lands at Toronto Pearson, we work with our airline and ground service partners to:

      • Prepare the arrival gate at Toronto Pearson for the plane’s arrival 
      • Position baggage containers on the tarmac to enable baggage to be unloaded quickly
      • Ensure a truck is on standby to pump fuel into the aircraft for its next flight
      • Have staff ready to clean the airplane as soon as passengers and crew are offloaded

      With an average of 1,100 flights a day, it takes many people, with a wide range of skills, to prepare for each plane’s arrival and subsequent departure so that the next group of passengers can safely reach their destination on time.

      Did you know?