Living under a flight corridor

Work on airport runway will bring more flights over Park Ex

Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) announced that it would close its north runway for major repairs over the coming spring and fall. Photo: James Bombales via Shutterstock

As the weather begins to warm and people start spending more time outside, some Park Ex residents may notice a familiar, yet more regular noise in the coming months: that of jumbo jets passing overhead. 

Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), the authority that manages the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, recently announced that it would be closing its north runway for major repairs and construction over the coming spring and fall. 

The rehabilitation project will redirect all air traffic to the south runway of the airport during repairs. This will direct the aircraft to a flight corridor that lines up directly with the north end of Park Extension between Crémazie and Jarry.  

Scheduled to start on Mar. 14 the first phase will end in late June, with a second phase set to be held from Oct. 11 to Nov. 7. During these periods, the north runway will be completely closed to aircraft traffic.

“Even though the borough is located far from the airport, the three districts located south of the Metropolitan, namely Park Extension, Villeray and François-Perrault, are directly aligned on the southern runway,”

Necessary work

“In order to keep its facilities up to reliability and safety standards, the ADM must carry out certain rehabilitation work on the north runway,” read a statement provided by the airport.

According to the airport authority, work on the extremities of the runway was already completed and they would now focus on the renovation of the central part of the north track. Similar work last year had also closed the north runway.

“When the north runway is closed for work, alternative departure procedures will be used during peak periods to ensure smooth operations,” continued the statement. This will move all traffic from the northern corridor, passing above Ahuntsic-Cartierville, to the southern one over Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension. 

The airport held virtual information sessions for residents of the boroughs affected both to the east and west on Mar. 8 and 9. 

The southern flight corridor flies directly above the north end of Park Extension, as shown by the red line. Photo: Matias Brunet-Kirk via Google Earth Pro

Landing aircraft

With dominant winds most often coming from the west, arriving flights often fly into the wind from the east to land at the Montreal International Airport. With the north runway closed for the better part of the spring, more arriving planes will use the southern corridor over Park Extension to land. 

“Even though the borough is located far from the airport, the three districts located south of the Metropolitan, namely Park Extension, Villeray and François-Perrault, are directly aligned on the southern runway,” wrote city councillor for François-Perreault Sylvain Ouellet on Facebook.

“Planes using this runway, especially during landings, will therefore pass north of Jarry Park, above Villeray, Nicolas-Tillemont and François-Perrault parks,” he added. 

Although the change may lead to more traffic, landings are generally quieter than take-offs, somewhat sparing the neighbourhood from excessive noise.

Historical data from 2011 showing arriving flights in red and departing flights in blue when winds are from the west. Photo: Sylvain Ouellet via Facebook.

Resident frustration

Although planes have been passing over Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension for decades now, many residents feel frustrated about the news saying it will make spending time outdoors less enjoyable and sleep more difficult. 

“Really not good news, we already had a lot of noise from air travel. The quality of life in Montreal is less and less interesting. A hellish summer in our yards awaits us,” wrote borough resident Sylvie Rochette on Facebook.

“We saw a big difference in noise pollution in our borough when the flights stopped in 2020 and 2021. It is a hopeless situation to have an airport in the middle of the city despite all the groups that have been working on this problem for so long,” added Sophie Burelle on Facebook.

Citizen organization Les Pollués de Montréal-Trudeau say that quality of life and the health of citizens is negatively affected by the passage of planes at low altitude and want the federal government to do more to protect people who live around airports. 

Resumption of travel

The increase in flights will also be compounded by a resumption of regular air traffic as health restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted internationally and people regain their enthusiasm for travel again. 

President of Richard Vanderlubbe told CBC News that bookings were now at 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. With the relaxation of on-arrival testing requirements, many expect demand for travel to increase even further

According to statistics provided by the ADM, the airport recorded 13,081 aircraft movements in Dec. 2021 over only 5,930 in Dec. 2020. Pre-pandemic aircraft movements ranged between 18,000 to 22,000 take-offs and landings every month at Montreal’s airport.

Direction of take-offs when the dominant wind shifts to the east, sending departing aircraft over Park Extension. Photo: ADM

Note: A correction was made as to the number of flight movements recorded in 2021 and 2020. 36,971 aircraft movements were recorded in the 4th quarter of 2021 and 16,953 in the 4th quarter of 2020, and not only in the month of December. The changes have been made to the article.