Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good morning, everyone.
As the chair indicated, I'm Neil Wilson. I'm the president and chief executive officer of Nav Canada. I'm joined today by Jonathan Bagg, senior manager, public affairs, and by Blake Cushnie, national manager of performance-based operations.
I'd like to start by thanking the chair, the vice-chairs and the members of this committee for this opportunity to appear.
It's regrettable, but it's nonetheless a fact that noise from aircraft in this day and age is an unavoidable consequence of the operation of aircraft. That said, significant efforts are being made across the entire aviation industry to reduce the impact of aircraft operations on communities. We at Nav Canada are committed to this goal and to collaboration with our partners: airports, airlines, Transport Canada, and the International Civil Aviation Organization—as well as, importantly, communities—on this important issue.
As the country's private, not-for-profit provider of air navigation services, Nav Canada is responsible for the safe and efficient movement of aircraft in all Canadian-controlled airspace. This means that we are responsible for more than 18 million square kilometres of airspace from coast to coast to coast, reaching halfway across the north Atlantic, the busiest oceanic airspace in the world. We handle more than 3.3 million flights per year, and these flights are made by approximately 40,000 customers, including airlines, cargo operators, and business and general aviation.
Our mandate is achieved primarily through the delivery of air traffic control and flight information services; the maintenance, update, and publishing of aeronautical information products; the reliable provision of communications, navigation and surveillance infrastructure; and the 24-7 availability of advanced air traffic management systems, many of which we at Nav Canada develop right here in Canada and have exported around the world.
Thanks to the work of our 5,100 employees, operating out of more than 100 operational facilities throughout the country, Canada boasts one of the best air traffic management safety records in the world. We also achieve this success with a service charges model that has some of the lowest service charges and is among the most cost-effective in the world.
At its heart, simply put, our service is essential to an industry that employees hundreds of thousands of Canadians, allows millions of us to connect to each other and to the world, and propels the Canadian economy forward. That is why we have invested more than $2 billion since 1996, when we assumed responsibility for the air navigation system, to make air travel safer and more efficient.
At the same time, we are also committed to helping reduce the industry's footprint, both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and aircraft noise, and we are also investing in that. Through technological innovation and procedural improvements, Nav Canada has helped reduce the industry's fuel consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions. We estimate that our efforts resulted in greenhouse gas savings of 1.5 million tonnes in 2017 alone.
In addition, our role as air navigation service provider requires us to ensure that our air traffic control procedures adhere to noise operating restrictions and noise abatement procedures throughout Canada. Nav Canada engages regularly in airspace modernization projects. In deploying advanced procedures, Nav Canada seeks opportunities to place approach and departure paths over non-residential areas, targeting industrial, commercial and agricultural land. In several cases, we have been able to move flight paths or portions of flight paths farther away from residential areas. Newer technologies are also increasing the use of quieter continuous descent operations, which see aircraft descending in a cleaner configuration and at a lower thrust setting.
When I became CEO in 2016, one of the first things I did was to meet certain community leaders concerned with aircraft noise in Toronto to discuss those concerns. As a result, we commissioned, and recently completed, an independent third party airspace review, which looked at noise mitigation at airports around the world, sought input from communities in the Toronto area, and resulted in a series of recommendations that I believe are both meaningful and achievable.
Some of these recommendations were the subject of a significant public consultation process undertaken jointly with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which took place this past spring. As a result of this effort, we will be implementing new nighttime approach and departure procedures this November. These mitigations result in as many as 221,000 fewer people being impacted by noise related to a night flight, depending on the runway and procedure being used. As we evaluate these mitigations and we gather community and stakeholder feedback, we will consider applications at other airports that can benefit from a similar approach.
When developing these airspace improvements, our accountabilities are outlined in the airspace change communications and consultation protocol, which provides guidance on when and how public consultation should occur, while promoting cross-industry collaboration.
We remain committed to working transparently with industry stakeholders and with communities equally, to identify opportunities to reduce the impact of aircraft operations while meeting the airspace needs of this country now and in the future.
Thank you, Madam Chair. We welcome any questions you may have.