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Vancouver Airspace Modernization Project

NAV CANADA, the country’s air navigation service provider, is proposing to modernize the airspace surrounding Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Plane landing at YVR

The airspace around the Vancouver Lower Mainland and Southern Vancouver Island region represents one of the busiest and most complex environments in Canada. It supports the significant community demand for passenger, cargo, flight training, and recreational operations with a wide range of aircraft types. In addition, the region is home to a large number of airports, including YVR, the second busiest airport in Canada, as well as mountainous terrain and coastal weather patterns.

To ensure the airspace can safely and efficiently support long-term demand for air travel and the essential role that aviation plays to support communities and the Canadian economy, NAV CANADA is undertaking a project to modernize the airspace over the Greater Vancouver Region and Sothern Vancouver Island in collaboration with its business partners including Vancouver Airport Authority. The main objective is to enhance safety and to modernize the airspace by introducing new procedures based on current design standards and modern satellite-based navigation technologies, while reducing the industry’s environmental impacts.

The current airspace structure around the region was amended in 2007. However, the underlying system is still based on historic traffic patterns using the locations of ground-based navigation aids, which increases the need for airspace restrictions and constraints. Since that time, advances in technology, procedures, and standards have provided the aviation industry with new opportunities to modernize operations systems to reduce flying times, pollution from aircraft landing and take-offs, and provide for quieter continuous descent operations.

As part of the airspace modernization project, NAV CANADA is proposing changes to approach procedures at YVR, including the addition of new satellite-based procedures known as Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required (RNP AR). The proposed changes would result in new arrival routes into YVR. The routes used by departing aircraft as well as those used by aircraft operating under Visual Flight Rules will not change as part of this project. The project will also not change how the runways are used at the airport and will not change any of the published Noise Abatement Procedures for YVR.

The new proposed arrival routes are designed to meet strict Transport Canada design criteria to ensure a high level of safety. While it is not possible to create new routes that completely avoid over-flying residential areas given the specifications of the design criteria, local geography of the region, and complexity of the airspace, careful consideration was given to place the new routes over industrial and commercial areas, bodies of water, and less populated areas where technically feasible.

When implemented, some residents may observe changes to air traffic patterns associated with YVR arrival aircraft over their area. As a result, NAV CANADA is undertaking public consultation to ensure that communities can learn about the project and the changes for their specific area, as well as and provide an opportunity for input on the proposed changes. The public consultation will run from December 6, 2022 until February 3, 2023.

To learn more about the project, proposed changes, and public consultation, please visit

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