August 19, 2020

NORAD’s Operation NOBLE EAGLE takes to the skies over Toronto

Photo credit: Patrick Cardinal

A rogue passenger plane, an international squadron of fighter jets, and a tanker refueling these jets mid-air at high speeds over Canada’s biggest city. While this may sound like the start of a blockbuster movie, this was the scene that played out over Toronto on July 30, 2020 as part of a well orchestrated North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) training exercise.

As part of NAV CANADA’s ongoing readiness training, the company organised the drill with NORAD. During the exercise, NAV CANADA cleared the airspace over parts of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area and coordinated with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and military command and control units from the Royal Canadian Air Force and United States Air Force.

Erik Doucet, Manager of Military Coordination and Special Events at NAV CANADA, says these types of international training exercises are necessary to ensure seamlessly coordinated responses in the event of real aerospace threats.

“Employees at NAV CANADA are a key component of all NORAD missions in Canada,” says Doucet. “As we are often the first to identify irregular aircraft movements, NAV CANADA plays an important role in these types of training missions.”

The exercise, known as AMALGAM HAWK 20-01, was part of Operation NOBLE EAGLE . Developed by NORAD after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, NOBLE EAGLE is an extensive air defence effort to protect against similar types of attacks within North American airspace.

AMALGAM HAWK focused on homeland defence of airspace over Canada and the United States. Fighter jets, working with the Canadian Air Defence Sector at 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario, and civilian air traffic controllers from NAV CANADA, practised aircraft identification and interception procedures in a high-density airspace.

Here’s a snapshot of how AMALGAM HAWK looked from the ground and in the air.

Jet refueling

Photo credit: Canadian Armed Forces

Jet flies over Toronto Pearson International Airport

Photo credit: Greater Toronto Airport Authority

Photo credit: Canadian Armed Forces

Jets fly over Toronto

Photo credit: Pat Cardinal


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by JOE [Stage 2 Aviation] 2.5k (@stage2aviation) on


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ernest Gutschik (@ernestgutschikaviation) on


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Patrick Cardinal (@patcardphoto) on

Did you like this article? If so, subscribe to our blog! The NAV CANADA Blog takes you behind-the-scenes and offers unique stories about Canada’s Air Navigation Services.



Leave Ordinary Behind: Q&A with Amanda Devine

Challenges aren’t meant to break you, but to shape you, says Amanda Devine, manager of the Aeronautical Information Management (AIM) Pr...

Subscribe Today