Air traffic control services return to Mirabel International Airport

A comeback for Mirabel Airport?
WATCH: Sixteen years after the last passenger flight took off from its runway, Mirabel Airport is seeing its daily traffic climb again. Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines reports.

Air traffic control services have returned to Mirabel International Airport near Montreal, Que.

The North-shore air field situated 45 minutes from Montreal has seen a significant influx in flight volume, prompting Nav Canada, an aviation navigation non-profit, to expand its services to offer air traffic control.

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As of Thursday, traffic control services run out of the Mirabel tower will be offered 16 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The airspace has been upgraded to a Class C control zone for the majority of the day. Previously the classification for Mirabel airspace was Class E, only allowing Airport Advisory services.

The airspace will revert back to Advisory status during the evenings.

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The site’s weather observation services will also continue to run 24 hours a day.

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The change in service comes as a result of an aeronautical study that showed traffic in the air field had nearly doubled since 2015.

In 2015 the airport saw an estimated 50, 000 movements on the tarmac — a number that jetted to more than 90,000 in 2018, according to Mirabel Tower director Jean-Francois Gauvreau.

Gauvreau says the influx of traffic is a result of a mix of cargo airlines and the operations undertaken by a flight school.

Planes from both Bombardier and Airbus facilities situated on the massive airfield, Gauvreau said, also contributed to the increase.

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With more movement and complexity to direct, Gauvreau said, the airspace upgrade was needed for safety purposes.

“We wanted to make sure to be as efficient as possible with the service we’re providing and we’re confident, during the day time and the night time now, it will be safe and secure for the aircrafts.”

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The airport resurgence is seen as a positive by airport officials.

“The reopening of the control tower illustrates the dynamism and vitality of YMX and demonstrates its strong development potential,” said Stéphane Lapierre, vice president of airport operations.

“This is excellent news, which also sets the stage for the aero-logistics hub project announced last spring to improve and expand logistics activities on the site.”

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The airport, which opened in 1975, was meant to be the main airfield for Montreal replacing the Dorval Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

After years of low passenger rates, the Mirabel facility was used solely for cargo and freight air traffic. The airport saw its  last commercial passenger flight in October of 2004.

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