Transport Canada, Aviation and Environment

By Thursday, July 23, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

It remains to be seen how Transport Canada will react to a Billy Bishop Toronto CityAirport (BBTCA) Environmental Assessment (EA) that stops or restricts airport expansion.

Transport Canada recently posted a document on its website concerning airports winter maintenance and planning. The advisory circular for airports that offer scheduled commercial service consolidates several circulars to provide information and guidance.

At 18 pages, it features planning requirements for winter conditions at an airport. A word search on the document for environment, run-off, toxic and contaminant turns up only entries for contaminant.  The word is used not in the environmental sense but in guidelines when measuring a runway’s friction index that determines the surface gripping factor.  The first example is “the runway surface is simply wet or damp with no other type of contaminant present”.

Interestingly, the guidelines do discuss ice-control chemicals. They state that chemicals for runways, taxiways, etc. should meet current Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS). Somewhat puzzling, Transport Canada also recommends urea. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that 67% of U.S. airports have stopped using urea. A deicing products manufacturer states that most major U.S. airports have stopped using it for environmental pollution reasons.

In all fairness, one cannot expect one Transport Canada document to reflect a paragon of environmental concerns. For that, we should look at the Transport Canada website itself.

Transport Canada’s website on environmental programs shows how seriously the ministry takes environmental concerns. For example, it lists itself as a contributing member of the U.S. Aviation Sustainability Centre (ASCENT). The Ascent website lists Transport Canada as a one of 60 partners/advisory committee member along with Bombardier, Boeing, and Airbus and several environmental groups. In fact, the March 2015 ASCENT Advisory Committee meeting minutes show Transport Canada on the agenda with 15 minutes for comments. Strangely, Transport Canada was one of two from the list of 48 presentations did not name a spokesperson.

As late as 2010, Transport Canada was working on airport emissions management plans but seems to have replaced them with “Canada’s Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aviation”.

However, as its website explains, it is heavy on plan and light on action.

“This voluntary Action Plan expresses how the parties, in good faith, intend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation activities.”

“It does not contain legal obligations of any kind or impose unreasonable expectations on any party, or intend to negatively impact any air carrier’s ability to do business in Canada.”

“The Government of Canada reserves the right to develop and implement appropriate regulatory or other measures to achieve clean air and climate change goals. Nothing in this Action Plan will keep the Parties from taking further actions relating to greenhouse gas emissions or fuel use.”

How serious is that?

If the above is anything to go by Transport Canada will not react well to a Billy Bishop Toronto City Environmental Assessment that stops or restricts the airport expansion.

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