Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Colin Novak. I'm an associate professor at the University of Windsor, specializing in acoustics, environmental noise and psychoacoustics. I'm also a principal with the firm of Akoustic Engineering, and a licensed professional engineer with 25 years of practical experience in the field of noise engineering.
In my capacity as a professor, I am the principal investigator for a three-year collaborative research project on the mitigation of aircraft noise annoyance, and the related community impacts through the development of targeted annoyance metrics. This research is equally funded by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and Mitacs, a federal funding agency. You'll learn more about this research in the next session from my Ph.D. student, Julia Jovanovic.
As a practising engineer, my experience working with airports and aircraft noises is comprehensive, having worked with Toronto's Pearson airport, Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport, Calgary's international airport, and Toronto's Billy Bishop airport. I've also been engaged by Nav Canada in the past to perform environmental noise impact studies on communities affected by flight path changes in the Toronto area.
Last, I'm a technical adviser for Toronto Pearson's Community Environment and Noise Advisory Committee, or CENAC. In this capacity, I provide technical answers and advice to the committee on issues of noise and deliver educational seminars to the committee and public groups.
An important tool to monitor, understand and manage community noise impacts are the airport's noise monitoring terminals. Toronto Pearson airport has 25 noise monitoring terminals. In addition to measuring the noise levels from above aircraft, the measured and archived noise data is associated to specific aircraft and their operation. The real-time noise levels are also shared with the public through the airport's WebTrak web page. This information sharing has been shown across many industries to be an effective community engagement tool and can increase an operator's environmental capacity.
The data has the potential to be used in several ways, including: as a method to monitor impacts during special cases, for example, runway construction or maintenance; as a research tool, as in the university's investigation of social impacts from aircraft noise; as a means of comparing effectiveness of noise mitigation initiatives or impacts of procedural changes; and for community relations, urban planning and public education.
The point that I am trying to make is that airports have and use tools which go beyond the simple measuring and reporting of sound levels. The key is to understand how to interpret the data, and effectively use it in a meaningful way to manage impacts.
I'm sure many of you are aware of the recently released World Health Organization study on environmental noise guidelines for the European region. From both my practical and academic experience, I recognize and support the initiatives that this report has undertaken. The report has clearly identified the problem from not only a European perspective but also a global one. Most importantly, it has identified the potential impacts from airport noise, particularly with respect to health. At the same time, I question the strength and validity of some of the conclusions, and certainly the recommendations.
The report acknowledges that many of the conclusions are weakly supported by the current state of science. Similarly, the recommendations are vague, impractical, and not strongly supported by the research. The report also clearly missed identifying the most significant intermediate between the generation of noise, and the resulting potential health impacts, and that is the annoyance.
It is very clear to me that more understanding of annoyance due to aircraft operation is required. The most important take away from the report is that more research is needed. Studies relevant to Canada, our people, our culture, and our economics are needed.
In closing, looking back as far as the 1960s, the aircraft industry and the airports, through their operations, have done an effective job at mitigating aircraft noise. This has partly been done through improved engine and airframe designs. The Airbus A320 retrofit is an example.
Noise mitigation has also been done through careful in-air operations. Air traffic is strategically managed with safety being paramount, but noise mitigation is also given high importance. However, these efforts are at a point of diminishing returns, with little more noise attenuation expected.
Moving forward, it is paramount that aircraft noise expectations and mechanisms for annoyance impacts and resulting health outcomes be more thoroughly studied and understood through good, relevant and properly funded research initiatives.
I thank you for listening. I welcome your questions later.