Evidence of meeting #40 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was aircraft.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • John Crichton  President and Chief Executive Officer, Nav Canada

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

No, I appreciate that. I just wanted to clarify it. I'm sure it's a question that people would ask. Obviously what you're saying makes complete sense.

To move on to the fees, the money you operate with is generated by fees from the traveller, in the end, essentially, those who fly and use the airlines. Is that correct? Perhaps you can tell me a little bit about how your fee structure works and where your operating money does come from.

9:45 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Nav Canada

John Crichton

Our charges are made to the owners and operators of aircraft. In the case of airlines, our charges are to them. The charges to the airlines are weight- and distance-related. The larger the weight of the aircraft and the farther it flies in the airspace we're looking after, then the greater the charge.

With respect to privately owned aircraft, general aviation aircraft, it's generally just a flat annual fee, much like you pay for a licence on your car. But it's not a big factor.

So in terms of formula, it's weight- and distance-related charges to the airline itself. Probably over 90% of the countries in the world use that same formula.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Can you give me an idea of a typical fee? I'll use an example, but if you can't give me a fee for that exact example and you have something else you can provide in terms of an example, that's fine.

The flight I most often take, obviously, is Calgary to Ottawa and Ottawa to Calgary. What would it be for a typical flight like that?

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Nav Canada

John Crichton

I'll stand corrected, because I do recall a Toronto-Winnipeg one using, say, an A320. Calgary-Ottawa would probably be twice that. For the Calgary-Ottawa, our charge to the airline probably would be around $2,000 or $2,400.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

So it's based on the traffic and the weight of the aircraft, etc.

As well—

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you, Mr. Richards. Sorry.

Monsieur Aubin.

May 31st, 2012 / 9:50 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank you for being here this morning and for your presentation. However, I need to say that I had questions every 30 seconds or so, since I'm far from being an aeronautics expert.

You started your presentation by saying that significant savings in fuel costs been made thanks to the appearance of these new technologies. Feel free to get me back on track if you see I'm straying. First you spoke about performance-based navigation. You didn't provide more details about the technology itself, and I would like to know if this is a technology that, among other things, makes it possible to change landings so that they happen in a continuous line, rather than by steps.

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Nav Canada

John Crichton

Yes, that's a big part of it.

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Would this new airplane descent trajectory not be the main cause of the increased noise that the population is hearing? In the past, if the descent was done in steps, the lowest step, which was closest to residents, was probably done in a much shorter range than during a gradual descent. Is that right?

9:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Nav Canada

John Crichton

No. With of PBN, you have to get into three-dimensional geometry of sorts. PBN allows aircraft to fly precise curves and arcs and to keep absolutely precise distances from each other, and to do this totally independent of anything on the ground, with no ground-based aid. It doesn't have to fly over a certain beacon at a certain physical location. They can now work in this beautiful choreographed area. The navigation is so precise. They can do all these smooth arcs. They no longer have to fly way out down there for ten miles, turn left, turn left again, line up with this beacon, and then come in. It all smoothly works in that way.

That's what people are noticing. They didn't used to see airplanes going around that way before. The airplanes had to fly these inefficient patterns and add miles and miles to the approach. Now they don't have to.

The point I was trying to make about the noise is that the aircraft are higher and they aren't causing a noise issue, in our view. Certainly where we've done this in other cities, and Vancouver was one example, we have literally put out noise-monitoring machines and proven that there's no noise. In fact, the noise is below the ambient noise level of the community.

So we'll see, but people do get emotional about this noise issue.

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

I would like to continue to discuss this same technology. You mentioned that not all aircraft are equipped with tools that would enable them to use this technology. You also said that a critical number of aircraft was needed in order to be profitable, but you didn't mention at what point it would become profitable.

Could you tell us how many aircraft are equipped with the tools needed and how many should be added to reach that economic viability?

9:55 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Nav Canada

John Crichton

In terms of PBN, at the major airports in Canada where we're really dealing with the airlines, we're probably only about five years away from reaching critical mass.

I think the real issue is going to be is with general aviation aircraft. To the extent they would interact at some of those major aircrafts, it could be an issue. Certainly in the en route phase, with ADS-B, we're now in the 65% to 70% equipage range and increasing that rapidly. We expect that within the next three or four years, we'll be in the 95% equipage range. Things are happening very fast.

Some countries have actually put in equipage mandates, saying it is absolutely mandatory that people be equipped. This is all happening, and it is happening quite fast.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

In my last remaining minute, I would like to talk about the automated weather observation systems.

With these new stations, can all weather measurements be taken, on the ground and aloft? In the northern parts of the country, is this automated system secure, given the weather conditions?

9:55 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Nav Canada

John Crichton

Yes, as a matter of fact the new AWOS was developed by Nav Canada at our expense. We spent millions of dollars to do that in replacing the old legacy systems.

One place we tested it for a year and a half, which we had to do in order to satisfy the regulator that it worked, was Iqaluit on Baffin Island. We're quite comfortable with it. This is the best system in the world. We really developed it on our nickel, to make it happen.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you.

With that, I'll thank our guests for being here today. We appreciate your time, John, as always. We're just going to take a two-minute recess while our guests excuse themselves, and then we'll come back for the remainder of the meeting.