The little local activist group “community air” has filed suit against the Island airport today, to try to block the construction associated with the impending startup of Porter Air

Amidst the doom & gloom language, there is a chivalrous little gem arguing that the airplane to be used by Porter, the Bombardier Q400 is actually unsafe to operate there. Let’s take apart this execrable document.

  • The authors’ obsession with runway lengths presumes operation at maximum gross weight. However, the airplane will operate well under gross if it is used, as planned, for shorter distances. That means less fuel, ergo less weight, ergo less runway requirement. They can also leave a few seats empty if conditions require. Even big jets at big airports sometimes trade off fuel for cargo on hot days: it is a well-understood phenomenon in the business.
  • In the paragraph about “canadian runway friction index”, they bring up “turbojets” for some reason, but the Q400 is not a turbojet. It’s a turboprop. (Then again, they misunderstand what the CRFI is: it’s a multiplicative adjustment to expected runway use, due to contamination such as snow or rain. It is not dependent on type of powerplant.)
  • The “difficulty keeping their stories straight” paragraph indicates a naive expectation that every number must match every other number. All of the bullet points could be true, since they are talking about different conditions.
  • Stopways are nice to have, but are just a bonus. The take-off runway lengths cited in the performance numbers already include the distance needed to stop after an aborted take-off.
  • That three particular taxiways are too small for the Q400 is of absolutely no concern. Those taxiways (E, C, B) are not used by the Jazz Dash-8’s either, as they constitute shortcuts for smaller airplanes. Taxiways D and A, and the runways provide full roaming freedom for Q400s.
  • I don’t know much about the pavement strength issue, but it’s fishy that they again go on about taxiway C/E, and runway 06-24, which the Q400 would just not use. Regarding 15-33, if it’s used only rarely as a crosswind runway on very bad days, chances are that the weight limits would not apply.
  • Bird strikes are a hazard, surely. I just dodged a couple of seagulls a few days ago near Humber Bay shortly after take-off. But it’s a hazard only to the aircraft operator (in terms of maintenance cost), and if Porter is willing to take the risk, let’s let them.
  • Likewise, the concern about weather at CYTZ is naive. Professionally flown aircraft can handle the occasional junk at the Island just fine, or at worst, divert to Pearson. And a reminder: a 60 km/h “crosswind” is not the same as a 60 km/h “wind gust”. I land/take-off happily in the latter, not the former. (The Q400 would operate fine with both.)
  • Pilot cautions: thanks guys for transcribing the data out of the Canada Flight Supplement. Believe me, they are not a problem for even first-time visiting amateur pilots, let alone professionals that fly there daily. It is a blatant misinterpretation to present this as some sort of indictment that the airport is “unsafe”.
  • Finally, in the press release doodad accompanying the lawsuit and this alarming safety report, they described the Q400 as a “monster which completely dwarfs the much smaller Q100s that Air Canada’s Jazz subsidiary has been using at the airport”. The Q400 is a whole 20ft (25%) longer and about 3ft (4%) wider. The humanity! The monstrosity! About as scary as Cookie Monster.

Oh well, what can one expect from political activists, especially such unlikely ones to receive ahead-of-time fact checking assistance from aviation experts, whom they despise.