May 6, 2020

Clearing the way over Toronto for Operation NOBLE EAGLE

Photo: Canadian NORAD Region

On Monday, April 27th 2020, NAV CANADA’s Toronto Area Control Center (ACC) participated in a NORAD training operation that took place high in the skies over the Greater Toronto Area. By ensuring the airspace was clear, NORAD was able to conduct training in what is normally high-density airspace.


NORAD is a bi-national organization responsible for ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States. Their CF-18 Hornets departed 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec and flew to Toronto. NAV CANADA controllers at Toronto ACC cleared the way for the fighter jets in a process that involves separating all other aircraft from the Restricted Operating Area. This area is pre-determined airspace that allows NORAD aircraft to conduct military missions such as air-to-air refueling, surveillance, and training scenarios, without interference.

Prior to the operation, NAV CANADA and the Canadian Air Defence Sector (CADS) worked closely to coordinate the exercise. Based in North Bay, Ontario, CADS is the agency responsible for conducting command and control of NORAD operations in Canada. This exercise was part of Operation NOBLE EAGLE – NORAD’s mission focused on homeland defense in airspace over Canada and the United States.

In a recent press release, NORAD stated, “the exercise was a shining success and highlighted the importance of military units working on exercises with their civilian partners.”

These exercises are routinely conducted across the country, although rare over metropolitan cities with busy airspace.

Erik Doucet, NAV CANADA’s Manager of Military Coordination and Special Events explains that the last time NORAD conducted operations over the Toronto area was during the XVII Pan American Games in 2015. “We’re always looking for opportunities for our controllers to participate in this type of training in the event there’s an emergency,” he says. “While this training event is not related in any way to COVID-19, having fewer aircraft in the sky right now did make it easier to accommodate.”

Given NAV CANADA’s responsibility for more than 18 million square kilometers of airspace, the majority of NORAD operations require close collaboration between the two organizations. This partnership ensures NORAD’s success and supports NAV CANADA in providing safe air navigation services while minimizing impact to our regular operations.

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