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Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Airspace Review

Implementation of the changes to routings occured on February 9, 2012. Information on these changes will continue to be available on these pages.

Inquiries should be directed to service@navcanada.ca.

For over three years, NAV CANADA has been studying and evaluating operations in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal area, the busiest air traffic corridor in Canada.

The purpose of the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Airspace Review is to increase the efficiency and consistency of aircraft operations and reduce delays while maintaining or increasing the safety the system.

The outcome of the study accomplishes this by:

  •  leveraging the benefits of more flexible and precise satellite based navigation,  

  • improving the efficiency of the en route structure, and 

  • better balancing flight operations in the terminal area around Toronto Pearson Airport, the busiest airport in Canada.  


On a daily basis a large percentage of the country’s air traffic flies to, from or through the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Corridor which covers approximately 140,000 square kilometers. 

The current airspace and air route structure in the corridor was designed in the early 1980’s when air traffic levels were half of what they are today. At that time, navigation was solely based on navigational aids on the ground that sent signals to aircraft to assist the pilot in determining their location. 

Today, satellite navigation capabilities offer increased flexibility in the design of routes and enable aircraft to fly them with more precision. This enhanced accuracy and predictability allows routes to be spaced closer together, increasing capacity and overall flight efficiency in congested airspace. 

This review will implement satellite based routings called RNAV, or Area Navigation, for aircraft arriving or departing Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal airports as well as in the en route structure throughout the corridor.  

For aircraft transiting above these airports at high altitudes (known as the enroute structure), 4 new routes are being added which have been specifically designed to segregate climbing and descending flights from en route flights. The additional routes will allow air traffic controllers to effectively manage current and future traffic volumes. It will also allow pilots to fly predictable routes designed for optimal efficiency with a reduced requirement for course changes (or vectoring) that so often happens today.  

In the areas around each airport, routes have been designed to provide improved descent, climb and speed procedures (or profiles). New routes will enable arriving aircraft to operate at higher altitudes longer and to use reduced power settings, which results in decreased fuel burn. In some cases minor adjustments are necessary to existing routes to meet current design standards or to achieve other operational benefits such as allowing improving the flow of arrivals on to parallel runways.  

The proposed new routes have been extensively analyzed in flight simulators and air traffic control simulators to asses their impact. This analysis indicates that these changes will have significant benefits: 

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14,300 metric tons – a reduction equivalent to the annual emissions from 2,800 passenger cars  

  • reduce aircraft fuel burn by 5.4 million litres annually, resulting in an annual savings of approximately $4.3 million in avoided fuel costs 

  • reduce cumulative flight time by over 10 hours daily based on current traffic volumes.