Toronto – Canada

Programme description

CAAM, in association with the University of Toronto, Ontario Aerospace Council, Nexa Advisors, Toronto City and other contributors, has developed a paper to assess the feasibility of Advanced Air Mobility in the Greater Toronto Area. The authors report the most likely the first use case of AAM aircraft will be emergency services. eVTOLs will likely complement existing air ambulance fleets in the near future.

Regional Air Mobility Including Trans-Border Services Regional Air Mobility comprises those flights between city pairs that are not far enough apart to be commercially viable and, as a result, travelers are forced to make a time-consuming drive: Toronto to Peterborough (138 km), for instance. Most eVTOLs under development using batteries alone promise a range of about 250 km. But other aircraft will offer longer ranges. Electric Short Take-off and Landing (eSTOL) aircraft, such as the model, are expected to deliver a range of up to 800 km, more than twice the distance of most eVTOLs under development.

While downtown vertiports could not be used by an eSTOL, airports would have the hundred-meter runway eSTOLs require. A strong preference for short, inter-regional travel, such as Toronto to Peterborough (138 km), Detroit (301 km), Syracuse (270 km), Kitchener (108 km), Buffalo (159 km), Rochester (158 km), Pittsburgh (358 km), and Cleveland (300 km) will meet a demand that airlines do not adequately serve. Ontario has 14 drivable border crossings along its international border with New York, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Airports, already set up with runways, heliports, terminals, air traffic control centres, certifications, and passenger amenities, are well suited to be among the first AAM use cases. Airport shuttles will take passengers from a central, highly populated area such as downtown Toronto (eVTOL) or its major suburbs (eVTOL or ESTOL), directly to the airport.

The Golden Horseshoe is home to several of Canada’s most important airports: Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport (located just outside Toronto in Mississauga), Billy Bishop Toronto City, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport; the Region of Waterloo International Airport and many rural aerodromes in the region, serving small aircraft for purposes such as pilot training and crop dusting.

A carefully planned Air Metro system—regular flights along designated routes something like buses— can provide at a greatly reduced cost metropolitan transportation options for commuters between heavily populated suburban communities such as the Durham Region (Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering), Halton Region (Oakville, Burlington, Milton), Peel Region (Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon), York Region (Markham, Vaughan, Newmarket, Richmond Hill), and Barrie. In addition to commuter benefits, business opportunities will be expanded to the outer reaches of the Golden Horseshoe; for example, tech giants in Kitchener, Waterloo will have much improved access to the Fortune 500 company headquarters and other large companies in Canada’s economic hub. It is likely that Air Metro will be an AAM mission that comes after the introduction of new aircraft for emergency and airport shuttle use.

eVTOL aircraft capable of lifting off vertically in a dense area, and big enough to carry some dozen or so passengers, will not likely be in production for several years due to the technological limit of the weight of existing batteries. eSTOL aircraft, however, are capable of carrying more weight than the earliest eVTOLs, as they take off more like a conventional airplane and, as a result, do not use up a great deal of energy in a vertical lift.

The short runways required by eSTOL of about some 100 meters and the lack of tall buildings around them would be available in suburban settings.

AAM Metro routes could bring people from the outer reaches of the Golden Horseshoe to these outer stations, connecting places like Peterborough, Orillia, Kawartha Lakes, Kingston, etc. AAM Metro routes could also take some pressure off of the GO Transit system entirely, whisking passengers from these outlying areas straight to Toronto.

Establishing AAM Metro in the region would improve accessibility and allow the Golden Horseshoe to grow as a larger region, improving the connectedness in the area.

Existing heliport infrastructure, particularly outside of commercial and general aviation airports, provides eVTOL business aviation users with access to highly convenient urban destinations. Many current heliports have the operating certificates and access to airspace to begin stationing eVTOL aircraft immediately, though, depending on as-yet-to-be-determined regulations, some heliports will need to undergo modification to offer recharging stations, hybrid aircraft refueling, passenger shelters. We estimate the cost to retrofit a simple landing pad into an eVTOL vertiport to be between $1.26-2.5 million.

The use of quiet, environmentally friendly eVTOL/eSTOL aircraft could greatly benefit this large portion of the province’s economy by providing better access to remote tourist destinations. Niagara Falls, located about 130 km from downtown Toronto, is Canada’s most famous tourist attraction, attracting 14 million visitors annually. For many visitors, getting to Niagara from Toronto can be quite frustrating. Options include renting a car and dealing with the city’s notorious traffic, using public transit that doubles the trip time, or buying an expensive VIA Rail ticket. AAM passenger operations to Niagara could provide fast pass access to the nation’s most popular tourist site with ticket prices comparable to renting a car for the day.

Ontario’s border stretches nearly halfway across the U.S., offering the province unparalleled access to nearly 130 million people within a day’s drive (800km) in major cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. Internationally recognized tourist attractions such as Niagara Falls, Algonquin Provincial Park, Bruce Peninsula National Park, the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, Blue Mountains, Manitoulin Island, and the Rideau Canal provide year-round activities for the province’s tourists, who spend nearly $40 billion annually on tourism-related goods and services.

There are more remote First Nations in Ontario than any other region. Urban centres with significant Indigenous populations living off-reserve are found in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Ottawa, and Toronto. Many of the communities are difficult and even impossible to reach with trucks or rail. Some can only be accessed by conventional aircraft or ferries. Others depend on ice roads in the winter—though these are no longer dependable due to climate change; routes that were solid ice are now more likely to be dangerous slush. As a result, in these communities basic food and hygiene items—whether orange juice or toilet paper—are usually many times what they cost in better-served areas. Because of systemic inequities and discrimination, many Indigenous people have suffered disproportionately from illnesses such as diabetes and tuberculosis, resulting from poverty and lack of access to a healthful diet. Medical treatment in these communities is often far below the standards of city hospitals.


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