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They Built An Airport That Nobody Wanted


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I wonder what will become of the land?

Mirabel Airport, Pierre Trudeaus white elephant, to be torn down

‎Today, ‎May ‎01, ‎2014, ‏‎3 hours ago | briandunnyyzGo to full article

mirabel-airport

Opened in 1975 and meant to replace airport in Dorval, Mirabels now too outdated to be maintained

The Mirabel airport is no longer economically viable and will soon be no more, says Aéroports de Montréal president and CEO James Cherry. The authority launched a call for tenders on Thursday to demolish the Mirabel terminal. The airport opened in 1975 under the Pierre Elliott Trudeau government and was meant to replace the Dorval airport. That airport, and not Mirabel, was renamed after Trudeau in 2004.

For years, international flights departing from or arriving in Montreal were scheduled out of Mirabel. But at more than 50 kilometres outside of the city, Montrealers quickly grew weary of forking over huge cab fares to travel to and from the airport. The airport grew out of favour as a result, becoming a sort of white elephant for the Trudeau government. Mirabel is obsolete. The land is worth more than the building, said- Aéroports de Montréal spokeswoman. Mirabel eventually became a cargo airport and an airplane testing site for companies like Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney. A couple of the airports landing strips were kept operational after the terminal building went out of commission.

Last winter, Bombardier decided to move the testing of its CSeries jet from Mirabel to the United States for the winter months. Although it had starred in several movies over the years, Mirabel Airports terminal has been vacant since 2004. Land is worth more than the building. The building has become irreparably obsolete, said Cherry of Aéroports de Montréal. The agency has spent more than $30 million to maintain the building in its vacant state over the past decade. Aéroports de Montréal spokeswoman Christiane Beaulieu said in March that renovating Mirabel so that it would be in an operational state would have cost $25 million. The land is worth more than the building, she said. Transport Canada has accepted the request to tear down the Mirabel terminal.

Mirabel Mayor Jean Bouchard said the demolition would result in a significant loss of tax revenues for the city. Most recently, the airport had been used in the Canadian-made zombie apocalypse film Warm Bodies.

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They did..Mirabel was called Pierre Elliott Trudeau but Dorval was changed .........................

Starting as Dorval Airport, then Montréal–Dorval International Airport, the airport was renamed on January 1, 2004, by the federal government to Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in honour of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The renaming had been announced in September 2003 by then Minister of Transport David Collenette. This move provoked some opposition, especially Quebec sovereigntists opposed to some of the policies of the former prime minister, as well as opposition from many aviation historians and enthusiasts who recalled Trudeau's role as an opponent of the airport, planning to close it in favour of Mirabel Airport.[30] Many Montrealers still refer to Trudeau airport as "Dorval," or "Dorval Airport

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It's interesting to note that the Mirabel airport was designed and constructed in the late 60s and early 70s. If you look at the state of the technology at that time you can understand why it was decided to move the airport 50 km outside the city; 707s, DC-8s and 727s and there was an expectation that the Concorde might fly into YMX. The plan did make sense at the time. Who could have predicted the rapid change in aircraft technology that makes having the airport in the city palatable? Just imagine if the airport wasn't built and the technology stagnated? You should have heard the whining and complaining in Thunder Bay every time a DC-9 or 737-200 took off over the city, now think about 100 DC-8s taking off from Dorval every day.

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It's interesting to note that the Mirabel airport was designed and constructed in the late 60s and early 70s. If you look at the state of the technology at that time you can understand why it was decided to move the airport 50 km outside the city; 707s, DC-8s and 727s and there was an expectation that the Concorde might fly into YMX. The plan did make sense at the time. Who could have predicted the rapid change in aircraft technology that makes having the airport in the city palatable? Just imagine if the airport wasn't built and the technology stagnated? You should have heard the whining and complaining in Thunder Bay every time a DC-9 or 737-200 took off over the city, now think about 100 DC-8s taking off from Dorval every day.

It wasn't only that. When planning for Mirabel began, Montreal was Canada's Atlantic gateway. The first 747-100 hadn't flown, the DC-8-61/63 could make it comfortably to Montreal, but was a bit of an economic stretch to get to Toronto from the European mainland. The European carriers only began getting access to Toronto in the early 70s. The wide body twins that could do overseas from central Canada, even Western Canada, didn't happen along until the 1980s. Mirabel's downfall was lack of land transport. If it had a rail line, or better Highway access, which came way too late, it would have had a better chance of superseding YUL. I remember taking a cab once to YMX, and it cost me $50, which would probably be worth $75 in today's money. If you lived on the South Shore of Montreal, it was half again as much.

And in my view, the idiots in Ottawa are going to make the very same mistake again with Pickering here in Toronto. Except for general aviation, there is absolutely no need for another airport. I hope that idea died with its promoter, Jim Flaherty.

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Lucky for us in the West the DC8-63, going over the pole had the legs to reach Schiphol which was a great gateway to the rest of Europe. If the routing included Alberta we had to stop in Edmonton for fuel in the hot summer as YYC was too high and too hot (temperature accountability) at normal sked time to depart with a full load. Sea level and cooler wx in YVR allowed the nonstop flight. Prior to that the Polar route we developed allowed even the DC6B to reach Schiphol, the aircraft was outfitted with an "astrodome" and had a navigator who took star sights to provide location information to the pilots.

As Dagger points out YMX was a good fix for (AC / TCA) for their flights to Europe.

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It's not just a train to the airport, it's a cheap train to the airport. It remains to be seen if Toronto prices their airport train below a comparable cab fare for 2 people. If the train is $20 each way (or I shudder to think, more), most people will just take a cab, making the train a useless waste of resources.

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So if they close the airport what happens to Bombardiers plant up there that they spent millions to build?

I believe the runway(s) will remain and only the terminal building will be no more. Part of the old apron is also leased (long term) as a race track and drag race strip.

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Mr. Google and Mr. Wikipedia are really good friends..... :Grin-Nod:

They are but never had the desire to look. Additionally you don't always get the same perspective from people in the industry who may have worked/lived through it at the time. More insightful than an anonymous article on the internet IMO.

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I have to say that posts like this are one of the many things that keep coming back to this site. I did not realize the history and backstory of YMX.

Good lord, next thing you'll be telling us you'd never heard of the Gimli Glider ;)

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Good lord, next thing you'll be telling us you'd never heard of the Gimli Glider ;)

OK then, Gimli Glider pop quiz:

What component failed?

How did it fail?

What channel was affected?

People in the industry might have knowledge that isn't available elsewhere.

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I have to say that posts like this are one of the many things that keep coming back to this site. I did not realize the history and backstory of YMX.

Oh it's a story alright. The political debate about where to put the thing was the first indication it wasn't going to go well. One option was close to the Ontario border towards Ottawa. That might have been a winner but the Quebec government immediately squashed that plan. So the Laurentian foothills north of Montreal (freezing rain, thunder storm alley ) became the agreed location and of course......the rest is history.

However, operationally it wasn't too bad. Two 12000' runways and never any delays inbound or outbound. But that was because no one was using it. Great place to do circuits......again....no one was in the area.

What I'd like to know the total cost to the tax payers since 1975 when they opened the doors. I think it would make the bill for the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics look like a fire sale.

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OK then, Gimli Glider pop quiz:

What component failed?

How did it fail?

What channel was affected?

People in the industry might have knowledge that isn't available elsewhere.

Wasn't it the left and then right engine? Just kidding.

I believe it was a faulty FQIS....non?

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Gimli Glider pop quiz:

What component failed?

-The human component

How did it fail?

Confusion.... Litres and kgs vs gallons and lbs

What channel was affected?

The Capt's, FO's, AME's and fueler's

Not what you were after, is it? ;)

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Mitch, you forgot a couple of key components that failed, including the management who allowed multiple fuel quantity measurement standards to be used in their operation and who allowed a poorly written MEL to get published without considering the consequences of such poor guidance; and a regulator who didn't think that allowing either of those to go unchecked would be a problem.

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Gimli Glider pop quiz:

What component failed?

-The human component

How did it fail?

Confusion.... Litres and kgs vs gallons and lbs

What channel was affected?

The Capt's, FO's, AME's and fueler's

Not what you were after, is it? ;)

Haha, very good!

No, not the answer I was looking for - a correct answer but not the correct answer.

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And in my view, the idiots in Ottawa are going to make the very same mistake again with Pickering here in Toronto. Except for general aviation, there is absolutely no need for another airport. I hope that idea died with its promoter, Jim Flaherty.

Well, if Buttonville closes before the condo bubble bursts it would seem the Toronto area will need a new GA friendly airport.

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