Air traffic

NAV Canada proposes to reduce air traffic control hours at Windsor

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The reduction in flights as part of the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has led Windsor International Airport’s control tower operations managers to propose reduced working hours.

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Mark Galvin, general manager of Windsor Airport, confirmed on Wednesday that NAV Canada is considering the switch to Windsor Tower services.

“It basically goes from a 4 p.m. to a 3 p.m. control tower,” Galvin said. “And I think the most important thing is that we have the ability to roll back as we continue our recovery from the pandemic.”

The proposed hours of operation for the control tower are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. from its current operation of 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

“Obviously air traffic movements have gone down,” Galvin said. “They’re recovering but it’s still not back to what I would call pre-pandemic levels.”

The proposal comes just over a year after NAV Canada, the private, not-for-profit corporation that owns and operates Canada’s civil air navigation system, made the decision to continue air traffic control operations at the airport.

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Windsor had been one of seven Canadian airports under surveillance by the company, although at the time NAV Canada said it was conducting a total of 29 studies across the country in response to the dramatic drop in revenues during the pandemic, and that it was facing the complete loss of air traffic controllers at the airport.

The threat to the Windsor operation was announced in November 2020.

“Obviously in 2020 it was quite a different story than where we are now, but we’re still recovering,” Galvin said. “And from our perspective, we went through the NAV Canada issue of being an uncontrolled tower, which we lobbied not to have.

“It maintains a control tower with only an hour reduction in terms of hours, with the ability to roll back if the situation warrants, which hopefully it will.”

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Overnight, from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., departures and arrivals will be controlled from Detroit, which already happens during off-peak hours, Galvin said. In addition, aircraft are operated under visual flight rules and on a mandatory frequency in the area, which requires pilots to broadcast their intentions on an established frequency.

“We also looked at when the traffic is heaviest and that’s usually around noon,” he said. “So it doesn’t affect that. It’s that half hour in the morning and that half hour in the evening.

NAV Canada spokesman Brian Boudreau said the company conducted an aeronautical study before proposing the change.

“The study has confirmed that this minor change will continue to support safe and efficient operations at Windsor International Airport,” Boudreau said via email.

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NAV Canada is now seeking public comment on the plan.

Representations regarding the proposal must be received by NAV Canada in writing no later than the close of business on July 27, 2022 and may be submitted to [email protected]

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“We definitely worked with them all the way,” Galvin said. “They have had calls from stakeholders seeking comment. And that’s a 60-day comment period.

“So if anyone has any issues with the one hour cut, they can definitely comment.”

He said there were two important points from his point of view.

“We are not looked to lose a control tower, which does not happen. And then also the possibility of increasing the hours if they warrant it, which we will obviously continue to do in our recovery and hopefully we will have to increase those hours.

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