July 9, 2009
By Mike Collins
The Washington State Aviation Planning Council has recommended that the state establish a statewide, five-year aviation capital investment program backed by grant guarantees and updated annually; provide tax incentives for maintenance and improvements to privately owned, public-use airports; and assess state aviation taxes and fees, identifying funding mechanisms for public aviation infrastructure. The recommendations are part of the council’s just-completed Long-term Air Transportation Study (LATS), sent to the governor July 1.
AOPA, pilots, Washington residents, and other stakeholders were involved throughout the study through testimony, public workshops, surveys, and electronic communications.
The study found that by 2030, general aviation operations are expected to exceed current capacity, especially in the Southwest Washington and Tri-Cities areas. The council recommended, and AOPA strongly supported, legislation prohibiting incompatible land uses around airports, planning to avoid incompatible land use, and other measures to protect airports from encroachment. The council also recommended airside and landside improvements.
If existing capacity is forecast to be insufficient, the council said the state should fund site selection for new airports. However, its recommendations focused on the need for stakeholders—including local communities, regional governments, and the aviation/aerospace industry—to more efficiently utilize the current system. The council also found that current aviation funding is inadequate and recommends state funding of projects “that maximize the efficiency and utility of the system.”
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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