Robert Deluce, Porter Airlines president and CEO, would have us believe that noise is the only consideration in expanding Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport (BBTCA) and that the jets he wants to bring in are whisper jets so we have nothing to worry about it. It’s a clever strategy from a master marketer and to a great degree it’s how the argument has been framed.
But it’s hogwash or in terms an aviation type would understand – propwash. Whichever way you cut it, jets or no jets, BBTCA is a very noisy place.
Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF)
The NEF is a computer-generated profile of the level of noise allowable at BBTCA based on an overall average of aircraft noise. However, not all the noise the planes make at the airport is taken into account or measured. Moreover, it’s the reason why Dennis Bryant’s noise complaint has fallen on deaf PortsToronto ears. Dennis Bryant complained about the noise from engine run-ups.
Noise That Counts
When RWDI conducted their 2010 BBTCA noise impact study, the PortsToronto consultant made quite clear which aircraft noise it measured.
“Receptors within this study receive noise impacts from airside activity (aircraft in flight, landing, and take-off roll) from aircraft associated with BBTCA, as well as overflying aircraft associated with Lester B. Pearson International Airport (LBPIA).”
Noise That Doesn’t Count
Anyone familiar with the various sounds emanating for BBTCA’s operations will recognize most if not all of the following noises.
- Shotgun blasts to scare birds
- Ferry operations
- Aircraft taxiing
- Aircraft engine reversals
- Fuel and supply truck movements
- Ground transportation airside and groundside
- Engine run-ups
Noise that Should Count
The most egregious of those sounds is without doubt engine run-ups. The Pratt and Whitney PT6 engine in this video generates as much horsepower as does the Q400 Pratt and Whitney PW100/150 engine. Although the video can’t possibly duplicate the sound levels of the Q400 engine run-ups, the increased intensity of the noise level produced at the 1:12 minute mark allows for an example of the decibel levels that prompted Dennis Bryant to lodge his complaint.
Dennis Bryant’s Noise Complaint Dismissed
PortsToronto`s reply is copied below.
In brief it says that
- PortsToronto has looked into, kept a record of and is prepared to do nothing about the complaint;
- PortsToronto is using the excuse of passenger safety to do nothing because it’s not prepared to require the airlines to perform the run-ups elsewhere;
- PortsToronto is prepared to let the airlines perform the run-ups on their schedule and convenience;
- PortsToronto thinks that the run-up areas are located sufficiently distant so that noise is mitigated;
- PortsToronto is prepared to mitigate the sufficiently distant mitigation area. This is a construction project the PortsToronto board approved five years ago;
- PortsToronto will feel your pain but will not do anything to jeopardize its operations.
The Bottom Line on BBTCA Noise
Noise at BBTCA became a real problem after Porter Airlines started operations in October 2006. Almost a decade later matters have not improved, in spite of PortsToronto`s efforts at mollifying the surrounding community. It can’t. The problem is PortsToronto`s dependence on BBTCA to generate income. No amount of Porter hype on whisper jets will change that equation. BBTCA is a very noisy place. No number of complaints is likely to change that reality – whisper jets or no whisper jets.
Your noise complaint has been reviewed and recorded into our monthly noise
Engine Run-ups (or Maintenance Runs) are critical to ensuring the safety of
all passengers onboard aircraft arriving and departing from Billy Bishop
Toronto City Airport, as they test for proper aircraft performance or to
ensure certain types of maintenance procedures have been properly performed.
Unfortunately due to the nature of the extreme propwash created by an engine
run, they cannot be conducted inside a hangar or maintenance facility.
Billy Bishop Airport is sensitive to the noise created by these necessary
run-ups and, as such, every effort is made by our aircraft operators to have
run-ups completed mid-day. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not
In addition, we continue to work with our aircraft operators to ensure all
run-ups are conducted at established and designated areas of the airport
where noise can be better mitigated. In 2012, we completed the construction
of the first of two noise barriers at the airport. The second noise barrier
and engine maintenance and run-up noise housing area is set to be
constructed by the end of 2016.
As an airport located near a thriving urban community, we work hard to be
responsive to our neighbours and appreciate your feedback. Please let us
know if you have any additional concerns.
Thank you for contacting our office and we hope you have found this response
Noise Management Office
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport