Starting this weekend, Toronto Pearson Airport will begin a trial program providing aircraft noise relief to nearby neighbourhoods.

The “Summer Weekend Runway Alternation Program 2019” will reduce air traffic for some neighbourhoods located under approach and departure paths to the east/west runways every other weekend throughout the summer.

This means during a partial-relief weekend, residents can expect reduced air traffic and noise over their homes while on non-relief weekends air traffic will be at normal, or slightly elevated, rates.

“We are always looking for ways to minimize the impact of our operations on surrounding communities by reducing aircraft noise,” said Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesperson Beverly MacDonald.

Normally, air traffic arriving and departing at Toronto Pearson Airport will use two or even three east/west runways. During the program, only one runway will be used for arriving traffic and a different runway will be used for departing traffic. 

During increased traffic periods, additional runways may be used, increasing air traffic over relief areas. Also, north/south runways may be used when weather or safety dictates.

The program will run every weekend from May 25 until Sept. 8 between 6:30 a.m. and midnight. This will not cause delays for flights. Running the program during the week is not possible without impacting operations.

“We’ve heard from our neighbours that predictable respite from aircraft noise is particularly important to them on weekends during the summer when they are more likely to be enjoying the outdoors,” MacDonald said. 

The neighbourhoods will be broken down into two groups. 

Communities outside the highlighted areas are not affected by the program and should not experience a change in air traffic.

Flight paths are determined by NAV CANADA, providers of Canada's civil air navigation service, and they will not change. Planes will continue to fly the same routes they usually do except they may land on different runways.

The Weekend Runway Alternation Program is a trial process. MacDonald said that feedback from residents during the trial will help them determine the effectiveness of the program.