Thursday, October 27, 2022

Aviation Commission recommends two potential paths to add aviation capacity in Washington

By Christina Crea

With demand increasing for commercial passenger, air cargo, and other services, the need for aviation capacity is rapidly outgrowing existing airports like Paine Field and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. You can learn more about the growing demand for aviation on our website (PDF 1.4MB) .

In 2019 the State Legislature (PDF 76KB) created the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC) to think about how to meet the growing demand for aviation services, while also looking at options to reduce the noise and environmental impact associated with airports.

While the CACC is made up of representatives from the aviation industry, the public, airport communities, freight industry, state and local agencies and elected officials, our agency provides the CACC technical assistance and staff support from our Aviation Division.

In February 2022, the CACC recommended six preliminary airport sites (PDF 396KB) that have the potential to meet both short and long-term aviation needs. After months gathering public feedback and reviewing technical analyses, the CACC recently submitted its top two recommendations (PDF 974KB) to the Washington State Legislature.

Click to view full infographic (PDF 974KB)

Option 1 would add capacity to Paine Field and assumes that Sea-Tac executes its Sustainable Airport Master Plan. It includes a recommendation to assist other airports interested in providing regional commercial service.

Option 2 would continue to explore construction of a new, two-runway airport at one of three locations in Pierce or Thurston counties. Any consideration of a new airport would include additional technical analysis and community engagement.

"This is an opportunity for the state to consider how to meet capacity limits while also planning for an airport of the future," said David Fleckenstein, WSDOT Aviation Director and chairman of the commission. "Increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuels could significantly reduce harmful emissions. Emerging aeronautics technology could also reduce noise from airplanes while also providing additional commercial air service options to more airports around the state."

The CACC is looking at environmental effects, economic and technical criteria, and public feedback and opinion as it develops recommendations to improve Washington's air transportation capacity.

What's next

The best way to stay informed about the CACC is by signing up for our listserv and visiting our website as we continually add important updates and documents.

In the coming months, we will offer additional opportunities for public input – including another online open house early next year – and continue studying technical data about each option still being considered. The CACC will submit a final recommendation to the Legislature by June 15, 2023. After that it will be up to the Legislature and potential airport sponsors to act to increase Washington's aviation capacity.

Media links

Members of the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission sat down with TVW for an interview to talk about the CACC's work and the state's aviation capacity, opportunities and challenges. See the interview here: