Aeronautical Noise Management

The Region of Waterloo International Airport is committed to balancing the needs of passengers, industry and community stakeholders with the surrounding community, trying to be the best neighbour possible while maintaining safe and efficient aircraft operations. 

Passenger traffic at YKF continues to climb. 2015 was another record-breaking year and 153,963 passengers travelled through the airport.

The Airport continues to have a positive impact providing connectivity, jobs and the ability for local businesses to compete globally.


The Region of Waterloo International Airport is located in the busiest airspace in Canada. This means that on occasion you may hear flights passing over Waterloo Region from airplanes that are not taking off or landing at our airport - these are called overflights. 

In 2014 there were 47,936 overflights within a 10 nautical mile radius of YKF, at up to 15,000 feet above sea level. 

This diagram shows the overflights that occurred on July 16, 2015, a typical day in the skies above our airport.

Overflights at YKF July 16, 2015

For larger image of overflight diagram 

For questions or concerns regarding overflights in Waterloo Region contact us or Transport Canada at 1-800-305-2059.

Noise Concerns 

Established in 1999, the Aeronautical Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) is a consultative/ communication forum. It provides members of the community the opportunity to meet with the Region of Waterloo International Airport Management and other aviation community representatives to discuss communication strategies and to provide advice to Airport staff on the collection of noise data and the mitigation of aircraft noise.

The Aeronautical Noise Advisory Committee meets quarterly to review the concerns and to discuss potential solutions to help meet the needs of individuals and businesses.

To attend an upcoming ANAC meeting register as a delegate.

While the Region of Waterloo International Airport records all noise complaints received, we are only responsible for complaints received within a 10 nautical mile radius and which concern aircraft operating to or from our airport. 

Your Airport Supports Our Regional Economy

Did you know?

  • In 2015 the Airport had an estimated $90 million economic impact on the Region*
  • Daily scheduled air service is provided by WestJetoffering daily non-stop service to Calgary and weekly service to Orlando from January through April. Sunwing Airlines offers weekly direct service to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from December through March.
  • 25 businesses operate from the airport that employ 300+ people including individuals trained at University of Waterloo and Conestoga College in avionics and aircraft repair
  • Over 250 private and charter aircraft are based at the airport providing time-critical services to businesses across the Region
  • The Airport is one of the top 20 busiest airports in Canada
  • The Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre is one of the top flight training schools in Canada

Flying from Home makes a difference - there has never been a better reason to support your local airport!

YKF 2015 Airport Facts & Figures (June 2016)

*YKF Economic Impact Study (2015)

How can I Submit a Noise Concern?

People affected by aircraft noise may submit a Noise Concern online or by calling 519-648-2256.

Aeronautical Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) Information

Reports and Information developed as part of the ANAC:

Noise Incidents - Annual Statistical Reports*

* Statistics of all complaints received are shared with the Aeronautical Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) on a quarterly basis.  Statistics dating back to 2004 are available upon request.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is noise, exactly?
Noise is a phenomenon that is present in the modern world. It is defined as sounds that are undesirable or disturbing. Generally speaking, the louder a sound, the more disturbing it is. Sensitivity to noise, however, can vary greatly from one person to another and even from one moment to another: two sounds of the same intensity may be perceived in very different ways. Some people enjoy listening to a very loud rock concert even though the sound level can sometimes exceed the hearing-damage threshold. But somebody who doesn't like rock music or is engaged in an activity demanding concentration will be disturbed if they are near the same concert.

2.  How do aircraft generate noise?
There are two main sources of aircraft noise: engine noise and aerodynamic noise (caused by the flow of air around an aircraft in flight). When an aircraft takes off, and is using maximum thrust, engine noise is predominant. When a plane lands, the aerodynamic noise that is produced can be as loud as the engine noise as the power setting of the engine is reduced.

3.  Are there differences from one type of aircraft to another?
 Engine technology has improved greatly in recent years, so some older, smaller aircraft can be as noisy as the latest-generation wide-body jets.

The acoustic performances of each type of air transport aircraft are characterized by three noise-level measurements determined according to procedures defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These three noise levels are measured on approach, takeoff under full power, and overflight. The standards also consider the mass of the aircraft and the number of engines.

The aerospace industry currently distinguishes between three generations of aircraft, referred to as "chapters." There can be a difference in sound level of up to 8 dB from one generation to another, which is considerable.

  • Chapter 2 aircraft are older aircraft dating from before 1977, equipped with earlier-generation engines. With a few exceptions, these aircraft have not been allowed to fly in Canada since 2002.
  • Chapter 3 aircraft correspond to the majority of commercial aircraft currently in operation. Note that some Chapter 2 aircraft have been fitted with noise-attenuation devices, called "hush kits," to improve their acoustic certification. These aircraft are marginally compliant with Chapter 3 standards, so they are louder than aircraft that are certified Chapter 3 when manufactured.
  • Chapter 4 is a new noise-certification standard introduced by ICAO in 2002, which all new aircraft built after 2006 must comply with.

4.  What types of aircraft operate at the airport?
All passenger transport aircraft operating out of Waterloo Region are certified to Chapter 3 or Chapter 4. Where general aviation is concerned, there are still a few small Chapter 2 aircraft, but they are exceptions.

5.  How can I register an aircraft noise concern?
People affected by aircraft noise may submit a Noise Concern online or by calling 519-648-2256.

6.  How will my noise concern be addressed?
All noise concerns are recorded, analyzed and responded to upon request. The Region of Waterloo International Airport has access to aircraft data within 10 nautical miles of the airport and up to 15,000 feet above sea level.  Noise concerns are analyzed relative to our Flight Tracking System records and statistical reports are provided to the Aeronautical Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) which meets quarterly.

7.  What are the Airport's hours of operation?
The airport is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. There are no night time restrictions or curfews.  Pilots have permission to arrive and depart at the airport any time of day, however operations between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. are rare (less than 1% of all operations annually.)

8.  Is there a curfew for aircraft arriving and departing at the airport?
There are no curfews. The airport is a public-use facility, open 24-hours a day, and aircraft are permitted to depart and arrive without restriction. Most commercial airports operate in this fashion.

Circuit flights for training purposes are not permitted on Runway 08 between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. EST (local time). This restriction avoids flight training circuits over the built up areas of Kitchener, west of the airport.
9.  Who determines which runway is used for a take-off or landing?
The use of runways is dictated first and foremost by weather conditions. Aircraft land and take off into the wind. Operating conditions (runway length, aircraft type, air traffic, etc.) are also very important considerations. The temporary closing of a runway, for example for repair work, can also have the effect of concentrating traffic on the airport's other runway.
The Airport has published suggested Preferential Runway in the Canada Air Pilot, which is a document issued by NAV CANADA. The Airport's Preferred Runway Rules state that: between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. EST (local time) and consistent with safety of operations, pilots should select runways in the following order of priority:

 1.  Runway 08  1.  Runway 26
 2.  Runway 14  2.  Runway 32
 3.  Runway 32  3.  Runway 14
 4.  Runway 26  4.  Runway 08


10.  Why are there small aircraft flying in circles around the airport/over my house?
The Region of Waterloo International Airport is home to one of the largest flight training schools in Canada and is the busiest training airport in Ontario. As part of their training, pilots must learn to fly in a circuit.  A circuit is a standard flight pattern used to provide an orderly flow of traffic for smaller aircraft using any airport. Pilots frequently need to perform circuits multiple times to achieve proficiency, or they stay in the circuit until they receive permission from Air Traffic Control to perform their final approach and land at the airport.

11.  What are the scheduled flight times for airlines?
For an up to date schedule of flight times visit: Arrivals & Departures.

Nolinor Airlines, a private charter operation, also operates from the Region of Waterloo International Airport. Their Boeing 737-200 aircraft may depart from the airport as early as 7:00 a.m. and return approximately 12 hours later to permit passengers to connect with other flights.

12.   Are aerobatics allowed at the Airport?
Yes. Pilots are permitted to perform aerobatics, with the permission of Air Traffic Control, in a designated block of airspace located over the airport property.  Due to the nature of aerobatics, it is much safer to do this near the airport where air traffic control can keep other aircraft a safe distance away from them.

13.  I hear noise during the evening. Are airplanes allowed to take-off or arrive at the airport in the evening and overnight?
On occasion aircraft arrive and depart during the late evening and early morning hours (e.g. medevac & some cargo flights). However, there are also a number of flights over Waterloo Region which occur during overnight hours - these are called overflights. Overflights may be going to and from surrounding airports, such as Hamilton, Toronto Pearson and others. The Region of Waterloo International Airport tracks overflight noise concerns in our community.

The airspace above the airport is available to air traffic 24 hours a day and is monitored by NAV Canada the organization which manages airspace in Canada.

14.  If these aircraft are not landing at the Region of Waterloo International Airport, why can we hear them?
There are a number of factors that may cause aircraft noise to be heard.

If aircraft are arriving at Hamilton International Airport or at Toronto Pearson International Airport these aircraft would have typically started their descent and crossed over Waterloo Region at between 6,000 and 12,000 ft. above the ground.

Temperature and moisture content in the air can also affect how noise is perceived. For example, when the air does not hold any moisture or when there is minimal humidity the noise/sound travels a farther distance. Other weather factors that change intensity of the sound may include: wind speed and direction, precipitation, and cloud cover and height.

In addition, the type and size of an aircraft may have a significant impact. Some night time overflights are cargo aircraft which may be older, the Boeing 737-200, Boeing 727, or DC-10 aircraft. These aircraft are approved by Transport Canada to operate in Canada and meet all noise emission standards.

15.  Can the overflight paths be changed to rural areas so fewer people are disturbed?
There are no approved or unapproved flight paths over the ground.  Aircraft may fly over all areas in our community.  Certain flight routes are selected and used to reduce the use/cost of fuel, and the duration of the flight. There are many flights transiting our community (overflights) that do not have anything to do with our airport. These include: flights to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport, cargo flights from western Canada to Hamilton International Airport, and flights from the U.S. heading eastward to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

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