Next Thursday, the city will host a big public consultation on whether Porter Airlines should be allowed to operate jets out of Billy Bishop Airport. In fact, the island airport already allows jets to use the runway, provided they’re performing a medical evacuation or transporting things like human organs or blood. Here are four facts about the only jets that can sneak in.
1. The planes are usually small.
Air Nunavut, a charter airline that operated a recent medevac flight from Oshawa to Billy Bishop, used a seven-passenger Dassault Falcon jet, which delivers around one-tenth of the thrust provided by a typical engine in the Bombardier C-Series— the jet Porter wants to use.
2. There aren’t many of them.
Just 62 jet planes landed on the Toronto Island in 2012, which accounted for only two per cent of the airport’s total medical traffic, according to Pamela McDonald of the Toronto Port Authority. By comparison, Billy Bishop handled 114,576 regular arrivals last year.
3. Payload is everything.
One day, the jets could be carrying someone requiring an urgent operation; the next, it could be a human heart packed in a Styrofoam container for transplant at a downtown hospital. Time is always of the essence, and the planes are met by an EMS crew.
4. The practice isn’t new.
“There’ve been [medevac] jets flying in and out of the airport for as long as the airport’s been there,” says Adriana Collins, Air Nunavut’s manager of charter sales. The airport’s minimal air traffic and central location (close to major hospitals) make it preferable to Pearson.