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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it necessary to redesign the routes?


The deployment of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) technologies, of which RNP is a part, has been encouraged by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO took steps in 2007 to require its member countries to develop formal plans for the deployment of PBN in their respective jurisdictions. NAV CANADA Performance-Based Navigation Operations Plan (2014) and the Transport Canada PBN State Plan identifies the goal of achieving a total PBN environment in Canada with Area Navigation (RNAV) and/or RNP for all operations.


Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) procedures are also an important part of the toolkit being used by NAV CANADA to reduce the industry’s impact on the environment, through the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs), as committed in Canada’s Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gases from Aviation.


While RNP and other forms of PBN are in use at the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport today, improved approaches ‒ that can be utilized by more aircraft operators ‒ are being developed.


RNP is the most reliable way to achieve Continuous Descent Approaches (CDA). CDA are the quietest and most fuel efficient type of approach. CDA reduce noise associated with level segments that require the use of increased throttle and flaps.


What is RNP?


Learn more about Required Navigation Procedures (RNP) by viewing The Basics of RNP.


What is a standard arrival route, or STAR?


A Standard Terminal Arrival Route, or STAR, is an arrival procedure used to direct aircraft as they land at an airport. STAR procedures can be programmed into an aircraft’s navigation computers to prepare the aircraft to fly the route as efficiently as possible.


STARs help organize frequently-used air traffic controller instructions into an established set of procedures for traffic transiting from their enroute portion of flight onto the final approach path to a runway. STARs represent commonly flown flight paths. They are a means of reducing workload and the need for significant back and forth communication between air traffic controllers and pilots.

These procedures are published in the Canada Air Pilot (CAP) for pilot and controller use.


What are the benefits of the proposed changes?


RNP is the most reliable way to achieve Continuous Descent Approaches (CDA). CDA are the quietest and most fuel efficient type of approach. CDA reduce fuel consumption and noise associated with level segments.


RNP also allows aircraft to employ a shorter route, resulting in shorter flight times, of up to two minutes per flight. The cumulative impact of those savings can be significant. The changes planned for the airspace surrounding Ottawa are expected to reduce GHG emissions by more than 750 metric tonnes and reduce aircraft fossil fuel consumption by 300,000 litres per year.


RNP allows for the design of highly precise routes. Where possible, these routes were designed to avoid residential communities.


Because of its predictability, RNP also reduces the requirement for frequent voice communications between pilots and air traffic controllers. The result is more time for pilots to concentrate on other important tasks at a phase of flight where the workload is heavy.


What specifically is happening to the routes in my area?


New arrival routes are being proposed for runways 07, 14, 25 and 32. There are no changes to departures, or any changes to operations related to runways 04 and 22 being proposed. For a specific description of the planned changes surrounding the airport in your community, view the runway specific information available on this website.


Do aircraft only fly on RNP/RNAV approaches?


The existence of a published RNP or RNAV approach does not mean that is the only route an aircraft will follow or that something is wrong if aircraft are observed in other locations. Air traffic controllers may direct pilots to operate off the approach for a variety of reasons related to the safety and efficiency of operations.


At times, traffic situations make it possible to shorten an aircraft’s flight path and reduce the time it takes to get on the ground. It is also common for aircraft to be directed off a procedure to organize multiple aircraft on approach to an airport to ensure that they do so efficiently and at a safe distance from one another.


It is estimated that less than 25 per cent of aircraft will be equipped to use RNP.


What are airport noise abatement procedures?

Generally noise abatement procedures, which are developed by airport authorities and approved by Transport Canada, are rules that can govern such things as the choice of runway, approach and departure paths or restrictions on times of use of the airport. Published noise abatement procedures are enforceable by Transport Canada and violators can be subject to fines. In the redesign of routes, NAV CANADA respects all noise abatement procedures in place at an airport.


How is noise regulated?


Aircraft noise is regulated in two principal ways in Canada:


Noise operating restrictions or noise abatement procedures at airports.


Airport authorities determine what noise abatement procedures should be used at a specific airport in order to mitigate the impact of aircraft operations on neighbouring communities. Abatement procedures are approved by Transport Canada and are official when they are published in the Canada Air Pilot. Once published they are enforceable and violators can be subject to enforcement actions, including fines.


Noise at the source (i.e. the aircraft).


Canada is a member state of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and adopts aircraft noise and emission certification standards prescribed by ICAO. These standards require noise measurements to be taken at the time of aircraft certification. Depending on the measurement results, the aircraft is categorized as either Chapter 2, 3, or 4 (Chapter 2 being the noisiest and Chapter 4 being the quietest). Regulations under the Canadian Aeronautics Act require that jet aircraft over 34,000 kg must meet at least Chapter 3 certification standards. Transport Canada may grant exemptions to this, such as for aircraft flying in the north.



What are the responsibilities of the various organizations with respect to airspace changes and aircraft noise?




NAV CANADA is the country’s air navigation services provider and plays a key role in designing and publishing the network of air routes that aircraft use to get to their destination and the approach and departure procedures at airports. NAV CANADA endeavours to balance the safety and efficiency needs of its customers with community concerns in the design of new routes. NAV CANADA is a signatory to the Industry’s Airspace Change Communication and Consultation Protocol. In this instance, NAV CANADA is the proponent of airspace change.


Airport Authorities


Airport Authorities are responsible for establishing noise abatement procedures. Noise abatement procedures can govern things such as runway selection and routings within 10 NM of the airport. Additionally, most airports have noise management committees and noise offices that receive and respond to noise complaints from area residents. Airport authorities are also responsible for responding to and tracking of complaints by residents for aircraft operations to their airport.


Transport Canada


Transport Canada approves new noise abatement procedures and establishes regulations over such things as aircraft source emissions (engine noise).


Airlines and other aircraft operators


Airlines and other aircraft operators are responsible for conducting their operations in accordance with Transport Canada regulations and airport noise abatement procedures.


How is noise considered when planning flight paths?


In designing flight paths, NAV CANADA endeavours to balance safety and efficiency requirements with potential impacts on the community. Options that reduce overflight of residential areas or that allow for quieter aircraft operations while meeting strict Transport Canada-approved design standards are important considerations. NAV CANADA also seeks input from airports, some of which have noise management committees, and applies its Airspace Change Communication and Consultation Protocol to ensure that appropriate community input is sought in the proposal stage. As part of the consultation, the Company uses industry standard noise modeling to fully understand the noise impacts of a proposed change.


How can I make comments on the upcoming changes?


Access the feedback tool here. The comment period is open until June 30, 2016.


Can these airspace changes be implemented as a trial first?


Before an aircraft can fly any of the new routes, approach procedures must be published in the Canada Air Pilot, as well as coded and stored in aircraft computers. It is impossible to make changes on a trial basis. However, the change is subject to a 180-day review.


What influences which runway is in use at an airport at any given time?

For safety reasons, the choice of runway used by an arriving aircraft is determined by the direction and speed of the wind.


In addition, airport noise abatement procedures may limit which runways are in use at certain times or for certain types of operations.


Does NAV CANADA decide which and how many aircraft land at an airport?


NAV CANADA’s mission is to provide for the safe and efficient flow of aircraft operating in Canadian airspace. NAV CANADA does not decide how many or which aircraft fly in and out of an airport. At some airports, Airport Authorities are responsible for the distribution of available slots.