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NavCanada Meeting Report

By Ed Lubitz, EAA Canadian Council, for Bits and Pieces

Proposed standardized terminal arrival routes (STARS) departures 06
Proposed standardized terminal arrival routes (STARS) departures 06

I recently attended a NavCanada how-goes-it (Area Operations Consultation) meeting on behalf of the EAA Canadian Council. I received good news and bad news. The bad news is that NavCanada is understaffed and overworked, so it doesn’t have time to address many concerns that aircraft groups are likely to have.

The good news is that NavCanada is understaffed and overworked, so it doesn’t have time to address many concerns that aircraft groups are likely to have. Its priority is to the airlines because the airlines are the largest users of the system and also are the largest financial contributors to the system. Light aircraft concerns are looked at when time permits.

The meeting was in Toronto (YYZ), and the model of flow into and out of YYZ will be the basis for each high-traffic area in the country. So with regional modifications the YYZ traffic model will be coming to the major airport in your region. The airlines want to minimize delays off gate. In other words, once moving, they want to keep moving, get high and fast. On arrival they want to stay high as long as possible, descend, land, and park as rapidly as possible.

The concept makes sense as airliners are expensive to operate on a per mile basis, especially at low altitudes.

Proposed STARS departures 24 L/R
Proposed STARS departures 24 L/R

NavCanada is establishing a number of bedposts or crossing points 25 to 30 miles from YYZ. Standardized Terminal Arrival Routes (STARs) are then established from these crossing points to the various runways. These work well in electronic cockpits, as they decrease the number of times the controller has to call an individual aircraft during approach. They also lower the workload in the cockpit.

If you operate in one of these high-traffic areas, you will have a better idea of where the airlines are likely to be and at what altitude. It’s hoped that these changes will begin to be implemented by early 2012 for the Toronto-Montreal corridor and follow on in the rest of the country.

Other NavCanada projects include the process of upgrading its VHF radios. The flight service station(FSS) is also receiving a technical update with more frequencies and more AWOS (Automatic Weather Observation Services) being installed. As well a number of the early AWOS are being updated. New ILS approaches are being installed, and when they are commissioned there will be no more back-course approaches as these are being replaced with an area navigation approach. The completion date is three years from now.

Wind farms are a concern to NavCanada because of the possible interference with radar. This interference can be as much as 80 kilometers from a primary surveillance radar site or 15 kilometers from a VOR. Each proposed wind site is evaluated to its possible radar interference signature.

NavCanada is also proposing a major change to the Canada Air Pilot Template. It wants to make a common denominator approach plate with no extraneous material. Also it will try to scale all diagrams if possible. This will make the chart easier to use especially on approaches to airports you only use occasionally. Such projects as this are part of an ongoing attempt by NavCanada to make IFR flight more user friendly.

The Toronto Island airport is now a class C airport, meaning that you’re required to have a transponder with altitude encoding to go there. More airspace, especially at altitude, is becoming transponder-required airspace. For example, above 6500 feet ASL with 65 nautical miles of YYZ is defined as class E airspace and requires a functioning transponder. As a point of interest a transponder is defined as having altitude-encoding capability. If you have an old mode A transponder, it’s not considered a transponder now, unless you have altitude-encoding capability.

NavCanada is encouraging direct navigation whenever possible. At my aerodrome we get a lot of Toronto-London direct over flights. Since these flights are on a direct flight plan, they aren’t following a specific airway, but depending on when they were turned direct towards London, they can be in a large area relative to the aerodrome.

Most of them are at 10,000 feet or higher, but on clear days some are a lot lower. Better view for the passengers and pilots. Keep your head up, and if you use “flight following”, remember the controller’s job is to separate IFR traffic and; if he has the time, he will advise you of other traffic that he has found. You, the pilot in command, are still responsible to miss all traffic whether the controller advises you or not. The radio doesn’t replace your eyes for traffic avoidance.

You can learn more about these proposed airspace changes at this link.

Fly safe and keep your head up and on a swivel. The life you save could be mine.


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