Buttonville plans for ‘new normal’ without control tower

As Buttonville Municipal Airport (CYKZ) prepares for the fast-approaching closure of its air traffic control tower, airport staff members have received training to ensure Buttonville stays open as a safe and active Mandatory Radio Frequency Aerodrome.

Buttonville's air traffic control tower is set to close on Jan. 3, 2019. Tom Podolec Photo
Buttonville’s air traffic control tower is set to close on Jan. 3, 2019. Tom Podolec Photo
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CYKZ executives have also looked into new services, such as an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS), to maintain the airport as a relevant part of the aeronautical system. Discussions with regional emergency services providers have also taken place to ensure those services will still be in place if needed.

The announcement of the tower closure–set for Jan. 3, 2019–was made in October, after an aeronautical study performed by Nav Canada determined there were not enough annual aircraft movements to justify the operation of a control tower.

Airport stakeholders were determined not to let the tower go without a fight, but “despite our collective best efforts, we are unable to change the mindset of those [within] Nav Canada who make these choices,” wrote Robert Seaman, vice-president of airport operations, in a Dec. 11 letter to facility tenants, customers and operators.

An aerial view of Buttonville Airport. The airport hopes to stay open as a safe and active Mandatory Radio Frequency Aerodrome. Tom Podolec Photo
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“We have repeatedly tried to emphasize the health and safety considerations involved given the built-up area surrounding the airport–the complex airspace–and the overall importance of CYKZ as part of the GTA transportation hub,” the letter continued.

To help pilots and operators during the airport’s transition to its “new normal,” Buttonville has referenced online mandatory frequency airfield courses and materials provided by SmartPilot.ca.

“We remain committed to supporting your aviation needs,” wrote Seaman. “We thank you for your patronage. We will continue to stress the need for a tower at our airport.”

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