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Brampton: The New Normal

By Ian Brown, EAA 657159, Editor and Canadian Council Board Member

February 2018

The circuit altitude at Brampton-Caledon Airport in Ontario went from 1,700 feet to 1,900 feet above sea level (the standard 1,000 feet AGL) on February 1, and Brampton Flight Centre is urging everyone who might fly there to spread the word and adjust to the new procedures.

The non-conforming (800-foot) circuit was established in the 1970s to meet Pearson Field Airport airspace requirements, but the airspace has changed and the circuit height can now go to the normal 1,000 feet. The change is going into the Canada Flight Supplement so Nav Canada won’t be issuing a NOTAM. Brampton Flight Centre issued an alert, copied in its entirety below.

We are anticipating there will be a few issues in adapting to the new altitude, so please be patient with your fellow pilots as they deal with the transition and keep a close eye out for traffic still using the old circuit procedure.

We have made every effort to communicate the change to the general flying public. Notices such as this one have been sent to the membership. Signage will be erected around the airport, on the taxiways, and on the roadways leading into the club announcing the new altitude. Notices have been sent out to the Community Airports Group Ontario to be posted on its airport bulletin boards. The next edition of the Canada Flight Supplement on February 1 will have the 1,700 procedure deleted. Unfortunately, Nav Canada will not issue a NOTAM due to the change appearing in the CFS. UNICOM will be responding to advisories with “Circuit height is now 1,900 feet” after February 1 for the many pilots who won’t be reviewing their new CFS prior to arrival

A few safety notes to pass along:

Keep a good lookout and listening watch when flying in the circuit as aircraft flying the old altitude will be masked in the ground clutter. Try not to overtake any low-flying aircraft from directly above as they may suddenly adjust their altitude to 1,900 feet.

Please refrain from lecturing errant pilots over the radio. Work out conflicts politely. Offer friendly advice in person after everyone is on the ground.

Aircraft overflying the airport for the turnaround at the old altitude might end up being only 300 feet above the new pattern height. Be watchful until everyone gets the word.

All aircraft transiting over the airport zone should now be well within Class C airspace. Report any transient aircraft you deem is below 2,900 feet via the SMS reporting system. (CARs 602.96 (5))

Expect that the circuit pattern will be wider. Crosswind lengths will increase plus the normal guide posts for circuit spacing using struts or wingtips will put aircraft further out from the runway.

The surrounding Class C airspace floor is still the same altitude of 1,700 toward the south and east. Staying within the 2,500 feet ASL cut-out will be mandatory. So manage your pattern shape accordingly.

Questions you asked …

Why change the circuit height?

Having a non-conforming pattern altitude has always been a challenge.

Originally, the 1,700 feet was necessary when the terminal radar service area was first established back in the ’70s. The airspace since then has changed a number of times allowing us to revert back to a 1,000-foot above aerodrome elevation (AAE) circuit.

New neighbouring communities have grown and have expressed concerns over noise. The additional height, in the effort to reduce noise, is a way to demonstrate that we are trying to be a good neighbour.

Students undergoing ab initio training at Brampton will now be accustomed to judging circuit work from the normal height of 1,000 feet AAE.

The additional height will also aid in the event of an engine failure allowing a greater number of options. 

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