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Friday 26 April 2013

Flight Paths and Proximity for the Toronto Island Airport Locations

Living on the waterfront gives me a bit of exposure to the flight paths used by aircraft using the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. I can see where many of the planes fly. So I did a bit of research to get some additional information on the most common areas the aircraft fly over.

I had heard from some friends that island residents and boat owners under these flight paths experience some kind of oily precipitate that covers leaves a slick, dirty layer on their homes and water craft. I am not sure if this is from the planes using the Island Airport or not.

I also read some pilot forums and there were a number of comments about some of the restriction and cautions surrounding the current airport location: city core, residential areas, etc

The comments got me curious about what these flight paths looked like.

Finding flight paths is not an easy task. I suspect that over the past dozen years or so, access to these materials have become a bit more restricted. I am sensitive to this possible fact so I took the flight path info I did find and I translated it into much 'fuzzier' versions with much less definition. I overlaid the resulting images onto a Google Earth pic of the Inner Harbour. The results are nowhere near exact and quite rough but they give a pretty good visualization over where the aircraft are flying.

Here is the image of the current airport. The East and West paths are the ones most commonly used.

As you can see, the East end of the Toronto Islands (Wards and Algonquin Islands), where people live are pretty much right under the flight paths.
The paths to the runways also seem to be pretty restricted.

Here is a similar depiction of what the paths could look like if the airport was to relocated to the end of the Leslie Spit (Outer Harbour East Headland). It assumes a similar layout and approach geometries which is not likely but let's assume this as a worst-case scenario. 

The flight lines really seem to be nowhere near anyone and the paths that the aircraft would take means the rear, noisier ends of the planes would rarely point towards any residential areas.

So I combined the images and added some (approximate!) distances to see how these two locations stack up in terms of proximity to people.

The new location is only slightly closer to the island residences and a fair amount of land mass in between the people and the airport as opposed to the existing airport which has about 2 km of open water.

I would assume a highly qualified airport designer would be able to really leverage this location for everyone involved.


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