NAV CANADA and Canadian Airports Council protocol on consultating and informing residents, to reduce opposition

Canadian airports and airspace managers seem to have woken up to the fact that changes to flight paths are deeply unpopular. They have now produced a protocol, setting out how and when they should consult with affected residents.  Their intention is to reduce opposition, by consulting and communicating with the local population, on changes to flight paths. It all sounds very laudable, and with aims of “meaningful dialogue” and that they will “consider community feedback in the flight path design process.” They say: “Different levels of community outreach and engagement are appropriate depending on the type of change being proposed. In all cases, the goal will be to inform residents so that they are aware of a change, and not surprised by it.” But the thing that is missing (and this is so familiar with airspace management in the UK) is any mention anywhere of actually reducing the amount of flights, or reducing the amount of noise, or not introducing the changes to flight paths that the industry considers to be “necessary.”  It is always just a matter of dialogue, consultation, processes.  There is not even a section in the protocol for not introducing changes, if they are not acceptable to residents.  Just managing the PR.


NAV CANADA and the Canadian Airports Council announce measures to ensure effective public engagement on changes to flight paths

June 17, 2015 (Canadian Airports Council)

OTTAWA — NAV CANADA and the Canadian Airports Council today issued the Airspace Change Communications and Consultation Protocol.

The protocol outlines a strong commitment by Canada’s air sector to improve consultation with communities affected when flight path changes are proposed around major airports. It will also provide better coordination and management of noise concerns from the community.

“Together with airlines and airports we are committed to engaging with communities. This new protocol provides a framework for improved dialogue and better consideration of community noise issues in the flight path design process,” said John Crichton, President and CEO, NAV CANADA. “We will not always be able to eliminate the impacts of aviation activity but we are committed to meaningful dialogue with communities in order to achieve as much as possible, consistent with safety and overall environmental considerations”

“Canada’s airports appreciate that the vital social and economic roles they serve as the “front doors” to their communities also comes with the responsibility to be good neighbours,” said Daniel Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council. “With our partners in air navigation and the air carrier community, our shared goal for this protocol is to improve engagement with local communities when there are flight path changes being considered that could impact residents and ensure that the organizations involved work together to consider community feedback in the flight path design process. Canada’s airports look forward to playing a positive, central role in this process.”

The protocol was developed by the CAC and NAV CANADA, with the participation of Canada’s air carriers, following a request from the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport.

“Resident groups have raised concerns with me and the local Member of Parliament regarding flight paths and the consultation process that precedes their implementation” said Minister Raitt. “Several months ago I asked NAV CANADA and select airports to see what could be done to address these concerns. Today I’m pleased that they have responded with concrete measures that will ensure effective community engagement when changes to flight paths are being considered.”

The Airspace Change Communications and Consultation Protocol outlines the roles of various organizations in the aircraft noise issue, what type of airspace changes will be subject to consultation and how that consultation will be undertaken. The protocol applies to proposed changes at airports with more than 60,000 annual Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) movements annually. The protocol can be viewed at and

The protocol: 

 The protocol says (some extracts):

“This protocol establishes a framework to ensure residents have the opportunity to know that a change may be taking place, why the change is necessary, and to learn and understand how the change may affect them. It also enables residents to provide input that will be taken into consideration as part of the design process.”

“Different levels of community outreach and engagement are appropriate depending on the type of change being proposed. In all cases, the goal will be to inform residents so that they are aware of a change, and not surprised by it. For larger-scale projects, such as changes to existing flight paths or the addition of a new runway, a robust public participation process with the opportunity for comment and response, is appropriate and will be undertaken.”

” The aviation industry recognizes there is a need for an appropriate balance between reducing emissions and noise impacts, particularly at lower altitudes. The industry’s challenge is to ensure that noise abatement measures and emission reduction strategies complement each other and can be accomplished without significant negative impact or compromise to either. ”

“While noise programs and procedures may differ slightly among airports to account for regional differences, core elements generally include:

• Procedures to receive and respond to community questions and concerns;

• Committees made up of industry and community representatives that meet regularly on aircraft noise issues;

• Published noise abatement procedures, created in accordance with Transport Canada Advisory Circular 302-002 (Implementation of New or Amended Noise Abatement Procedures);

• Multi-year noise management plans;

• Airport noise monitoring and flight tracking systems.”

“When flight path changes are implemented adverse community reaction can result, particularly if new areas are overflown. In the case of an airspace change, aircraft operators, NAV CANADA and local airports are committed to a public participation process that provides the community with factual and accurate information before and after a change is implemented.”

“Whenever flight path design changes are proposed at lower altitudes, consultation will be necessary prior to implementation. The following principles will be applied:

1. Flight path design changes that affect the lateral positioning of an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight path on which aircraft will operate at an altitude below 4,000 ft above ground level (AGL) over a residential area will be subject to analysis of environmental impact, including noise impact and to a public consultation process as described in Section 5. Environmental impact analysis should consider anticipated noise and emissions, including the number of people likely to be positively and/or negatively affected, flight frequency, distribution of traffic night/day, and the pre-existing exposure to aircraft operations.

2. For flight path design changes to IFR flight paths above 4,000 ft AGL communication will occur to ensure transparency of decision making and provide information on anticipated impact, particularly for changes between 4,000 and 6,000 ft AGL. For flight path changes above 6,000 ft AGL but still in the vicinity of an airport, communications will be tailored depending on the potential for new communities to be overflown.

3. There may be occasions where the trialing of a new flight procedure would be useful to determining its impact on efficiency and/or noise. Affected communities will be informed prior to the commencement of any trial, with full consultation undertaken as per this protocol before a procedure change is made permanent.

4. Airspace or procedure changes sometimes occur that do not change the lateral location of the flight path but nevertheless affect noise profiles or flight frequency.”

“Decision making and communication of final decisions Following the consultation, input received will be assessed and considered. A final decision by the organization proposing the flight change will be announced along with a description, if relevant, of any changes to the original proposal. The decision will be available on the website of the airspace change proponent and in cases in which the airport is not the proponent, the relevant airport. The decision will be issued at least three weeks prior to implementation. A document summarizing the comments received during the consultation and reasons for the final decision will be available.”

“180-day review For airspace changes subject to consultation under this protocol, an assessment of the change will be made by the organization implementing the change and the affected airport operator within 180 days following implementation. This assessment will examine whether noise levels are in line with what was anticipated and should include actual decibel measurements taken in the affected area.”



About the Canadian Airports Council

The Canadian Airports Council (CAC), a division of Airports Council International-North America, is the voice for Canada’s airports community. Its 48 members represent more than 100 airports, including all of the privately operated National Airports System (NAS) airports and many municipal airports across Canada. Together, CAC members handle virtually all of the nation’s air cargo and international passenger traffic, and 95% of domestic passenger traffic. Canada’s airports are independently operated by non-share capital corporations that are fully responsible for self-funding their operating and infrastructure costs.


NAV CANADA is the country’s private sector civil air navigation service provider. With operations from coast to coast to coast, NAV CANADA provides air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information services, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation.