By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Canada’s aviation and transport regulator has addressed concerns around low-flying planes at the Oshawa Executive Airport, and it may not be the answer residents were looking for.
Starting from a raucous public meeting in 2017 that saw a mass of residents attend a public open house at the airport, many with concerns around noise, and planes flying low over their homes, airport officials reached out to Transport Canada to look into the matter.
In a letter sent to the federal department at the start of this year, airport manager Stephen Wilcox explained the numerous concerns raised by residents during the meeting.
In response, Transport Canada noted that despite the concerns, Canadian Aviation Regulations state that during take-offs and landings, minimum height restrictions do not apply.
“By necessity, aircraft must fly below 1,000 AGL (above ground level) during the departure and landing operations,” the letter from Paul Spier, a civil aviation inspector states.
For Wilcox, the response is simply an reaffirmation of the fact the airport is continuing to maintain its safe reputation.
“I think the key point is that the letter just reaffirms the safe and efficient manner in which the airport operates,” he says. “Safety is always first, that’s the primary concern of every pilot, it’s the primary concern of us at the airport and it’s the primary concern of the regulator Transport Canada.”
However, these words may do little to quell the concerns of nearby residents, one of whom complained about consistent low-flying planes barely clear the 60-foot trees on his property, and sometimes coming in so frequently he counted as many as 48 planes in under an hour.
For Wilcox, he says they will continue to look into the matter, along with Transport Canada, but the reality is that when planes come in for landings, there is only one way to get from point A to point B.
“There are very set procedures, very prescriptive procedures that they follow, but sooner or later the airplane has to get from up high to down low and all of those landing and takeoff procedures are well established,” he says. “They’re 1,000 feet above the ground and once they start to come down, they’ve got to get down to land.”
“If there are any regularities NAV Canada is going to note it, they’re going to report is to Transport Canada. So, the day-to-day operations are very, very safe and everything we do is all about the safety,” he adds.
However, with that said, the letter from Transport Canada notes that they will continue to look into the matter.
“I understand that there is some concern from residents that aircraft are flying low over their homes. Transport Canada Civil Aviation Safety Inspectors will be visiting the Oshawa Airport in the coming months to observe circuit operations.”
For residents looking to report a concern or issue, an online form can be completed by visiting www.oshawa.ca/airport.