Envirosuite has been exploring the aviation industry’s challenges as it returns to ‘normal’ operations. For this article, Envirosuite’s Matt Mills-Brookes and Peter Rafano spoke with Cynthia Woods, Manager, Noise Management Office at Toronto Pearson International Airport, to capture the thoughts of a world-leading airport in noise management and community engagement.
Like all businesses and individuals around the world, Toronto Pearson International Airport was impacted by the severe reduction in travel brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the latest statistics available indicating a 75.7% drop in passenger aircraft movements in the third quarter of 2020 as compared to the same period the year prior. A similar, but less pronounced, drop was also experienced with noise complaints.
Cynthia Woods, Manager, Noise Management Office at Toronto Pearson International Airport, explains that while it would be easy to align these trends, the reality is far more complex. Reduced traffic volumes have changed how the runways and airspace are being used, resulting in some areas experiencing greater traffic decreases than others. Airline fleet downgauging, retirement plans, and additional cargo flights have changed the fleet mix overflying the community.
Interestingly, while some pre-pandemic complaint trends have continued, the focus of some complaints has shifted from noise to public health and wider environmental concerns. This a trend that Envirosuite has noticed at several other airports around the world, suggesting that while the same annoyance factors continue in specific airport communities, they have varied in others.
As traffic returns, many airports will need to manage a new set of community concerns. A clear example of this is while aircraft will fly the same routes as they did prior to the pandemic and include some newer, quieter and cleaner aircraft, returning traffic could easily be seen as new, lower and potentially louder overflight than before.
All of this is driven by change, and at Envirosuite we believe the initial change point as a result of the pandemic has not just impacted aviation, but also our entire lives. The pandemic has required us to live and work at home and while we start to return to the office, remote working is likely to, in most parts, continue. Meaning that as aviation returns, we are all going to be experiencing a new and potentially continually-changing soundscape now and into the near future through the introduction of urban air mobility, unmanned aerial vehicles and new low-emission aircraft. All of which contribute to that evolving change horizon.
While this is a key concern Cynthia raises, our industry’s social licence to operate is granted by the public and just as our world has changed, we as an industry will need to change to demonstrate we can build back better to ensure that social licence is secured for the future. Ensuring we can achieve this, requires early action, and Toronto Pearson sees InsightFull as a potential opportunity to achieve that, initially sharing tailored, location-specific information on the impacts of the pandemic on overflight and how that is changing as the industry recovers.
InsightFull is one of Envirosuite’s solutions for airports, a publicly-accessible online portal that delivers an engaging, tailored community engagement experience, providing fit-for-purpose, location-specific airport information. InsightFull helps airports automate community engagement without sacrificing quality or effectiveness, building trust and strengthening the airports social licence to operate and grow. The airport staff are in control of the content and layout of the site, while also having insights to who is using the portal, when, from where and what information they are looking for. This way, airports can learn what their communities are concerned about, and proactively optimise.
Author: Matt Mills-Brookes
Author bio: Matt is an aviation specialist dedicated to solving the strategic problems facing Envirosuite clients. Prior to joining Envirosuite Matt was an air traffic management consultant and Airspace Lead at London Gatwick Airport where he led a team which is responsible for the management of the airspace surrounding the world’s busiest single runway airport.
Author: Peter Rafano
Author bio: Pete is an airport specialist with a passion for helping Envirosuite’s clients manage their environmental programmes. Pete spent 17 years managing London Heathrow Airport’s existing operational noise programme and actively engaging with internal and stakeholders, the regulator, government, airlines, NATS, EUROCONTROL, and others.
Bio: Cynthia Woods
Cynthia Woods is the Manager of the Noise Management Office for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) at Toronto Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport. In this role, she is responsible for the oversight, continuous improvement and public education of the Noise Management Program. Cynthia and the GTAA Noise team work closely with NAV CANADA, airlines and other stakeholders to explore noise mitigation opportunities and to deliver on the 2018-2022 Noise Management Action Plan. She is particularly interested in the future of Unmanned Aircraft operations in the vicinity of airports and their potential effect on community annoyance.