Trial of an updated nighttime preferential runway system

Pearson recognizes that airports have impacts, such as noise, on local communities. While airport noise can’t be eliminated entirely, we believe that continuous improvements should be studied, discussed and implemented with our neighbours. Through our Noise Management Action Plan, we are working with our partners and the community to manage noise impacts. One example is our three-year collaboration with NAV CANADA on the Six Ideas: A Quieter Operations Roadmap.

We operate around the clock, seven days a week. We know that nighttime noise can be particularly bothersome for some. Between midnight and 6:30 am each night, we prioritize the use of runways to minimize the number of residents overflown. This is called our Nighttime Preferential Runway System. Preferential runway systems are common to many major international airports that operate at night.

We have had a Nighttime Preferential Runway System since the 1970s. However, the communities around the airport have changed over the last five decades—and the airport has too. That’s why we undertook technical analysis and consultation as part of the Six Ideas to update the Nighttime Preferential Runway System so it better reflects today’s environment. 

Combined with NAV CANADA’s new nighttime arrival and nighttime departure routes (implemented in November of 2018), our updated Nighttime Preferential Runway System will reduce the number of residents overflown at night, and will also be a system that is more predictable and understandable to residents. It will enable more consistent use of runways identified as the preferential runway as it now provides for into the wind and maintenance contingency runways. This means better guidance for Air Traffic controllers in various circumstances.

We will trial the updated Nighttime Preferential Runway System for one year to validate these updates to the system.

Updated Nighttime Preferential Runway System

The Nighttime Preferential Runway System outlines the preferred runways to use. However, non-preferential runways may be used when required by weather, wind, runway availability, or operational requirements, such as runway maintenance.

Trial details

DURATION: Starting February 27, 2020 and continuing for one year

TIMES: Every night, midnight to 6:30 am

The trial will last for one year to test usage of the updated system across multiple weather conditions, as well as during runway construction season and winter operations.

We’ll report on the usage of the updated Nighttime Preferential Runway system throughout the trial.

For more detail on how your neighbourhood may experience the updated Nighttime Preferential Runway System, please visit the Six Ideas Preferential Runway System Review technical analysis webpage.

Did you know that Toronto Pearson operates at night?

Toronto Pearson operates 24/7/365. Of the approximately 1,300 flights taking off and landing at Toronto Pearson daily, 3.5 per cent — or an average of 46 flights a night — occur between 12:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. We call these night flights. 

Toronto Pearson manages a Night Flight Restriction Program — commonly known as the "night flight budget" — that limits the annual number of night flights and helps keep nighttime traffic proportional to overall traffic. Toronto Pearson is the only airport in Canada to have a night flight budget mandated by Transport Canada.

Nighttime Preferential Runway System usage reports

Usage Report – April to June 2021 (Q2 2021)

Usage Report – January to March 2021 (Q1 2021) 

Usage Report – February 27, 2020 to February 26, 2021

Usage Report – July to September 2021 (Q3 2021)

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