By Terry Stephens
Recommendations from the new Aviation Planning Council, created in August by Gov. Christine Gregoire, will influence how Washington’s airports grow to meet increasing demand for commercial passenger and air cargo service over the next 20 years.
The council’s recommendations could settle a growing debate in Everett between business and citizen groups on opposing sides of one of the most volatile airport conflicts in Washington. Business members of the Private Enterprise Coalition of Snohomish County are pushing to attract airlines’ interest at Paine Field, while Mukilteo residents are trying to discourage any efforts to bring commercial air service to the airport through the “Save Our Communities” campaign. According to a recent report by the Washington State Department of Transportation’s aviation division, officials are concerned that despite the importance of aviation to the state economy, the aviation network itself is in danger, if changes aren’t made to support it. The state’s warnings are part of the three-year Long-term Aviation Transportation Study.
The combined forces of benign neglect, inconsistent levels of activity, an antiquated funding base, a fluctuating economy and local land use conflicts could interact to threaten the entire system, the LATS report noted. Researchers said other issues revolve around the pressures of rapid growth on the state’s airports. For instance, the state’s population has doubled in the past 30 years, to 6.5 million; another 2 million are expected to be added by 2025. Since population gains historically create increased aviation activity for business, freight, public safety and recreation, the FAA predicts a 25 percent increase in total aviation by 2025, a 42 percent increase in commercial operations and a 60 percent increase in business and corporate flying by 2030.
A project team for the new aviation council will begin preparing materials for members to review later this year. Members will particularly focus on two years of LATS airport facilities and capacities surveys finished in 2006. After convening in January for the first of its sessions, the council will issue its report to the legislature by July 2009, in time for project funding in the 2010-11 budget.
The governor’s council appointments include individuals from various Washington cities. Carol Moser of Richland is a member of the Washington Transportation Commission. She served on the Richland City Council and the Association of Washington Cities board of directors.
John Sibold of Arlington is director of aviation for the Washington State Department of Transportation. He retired from Alaska Airlines, where he managed in-flight customer service. He was also the director of aviation and marine services for the Port of Bellingham and is a member of the National Association of State Aviation Officials.
Juli Wilkerson of Olympia is director of the Washington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development. She previously served as director of the city of Tacoma’s economic development department.
Paul A. Roberts of Marysville is the director of public works for the City of Marysville and an Everett City Council member. He’s a former executive director of the Office of the Snohomish County Executive and former director of Everett’s department of planning and community development.
John Townsley of Okanogan is a forest silviculturist with the USDA Forest Service. He’s also a board member of the Okanogan Legion Airport Improvement Association and a member of the Washington Pilots Association.
David A. Field of Bellevue, a senior consultant with Carter and Burgess, is working on airport project development. He recently retired from 40 years with the Federal Aviation Administration, where he managed airport planning, programming and capacity studies.
Prod Gratton O’Neal Sealock II, director of Spokane International Airport (GEG), is a retired U.S. Army brigadier general with 31 years of active service. He’s a lifetime member of the Army Aviation Association of America.
James McNamara of Vancouver is on the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. He previously was an assistant city attorney in Vancouver, Federal Way and Bremerton. He’s a licensed pilot and an adjunct assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, teaching aviation law, aviation legislation and public administration.
Donald Garvett of Mercer Island is the vice president of strategy and corporate development for Alaska Airlines. He has more than 35 years of aviation experience.
Penelope L. Loomis, of Chattaroy, is the airport manager for Deer Park Municipal Airport (DEW) and is a member of the American Association of Airport Executives. Previously, she was the chair of the Washington Community Airport Association and on the board of the Washington Airport Management Association.
For further information about the LATS report, visit [http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/aviation/lats].