Washington State study examines aviation needs, funding

November 4, 2013

A study moving forward in Washington State is seen aiding policymakers who must decide how to fund aviation-system improvements, and has potential to act as a "springboard" to return more state aviation revenue to the system in the future.

A 24-member advisory committee for the airport investment study launched by the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division held an introductory meeting Oct. 30 at King County International Airport/Boeing Field in Seattle. AOPA Northwest/Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane serves on the panel. Its membership consists of airport, airline, general aviation, medical services, and business and elected officials from across the state.

The study will be conducted under the committee’s guidance by international consulting group CH2M Hill, with a target completion date of April 2014.

With the effort being coordinated by state aviation officials, the study marks a departure from past reviews that had been under legislative auspices.

Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation Director Tristan Atkins explained in a February 2013 announcement that it was "important that we bring all stakeholders to the table to take a closer look at potential options for Washington’s diverse public-use airports."

The consultants, who advised the Port of Seattle on a $3.5-billion capital development program, will evaluate short and long-term maintenance, safety, and capacity enhancement needs at the state’s 136 public-use airports. The study will assess current funding levels, and provide a framework for developing airport investment funding and policy proposals for future legislative sessions, Ulane said.

That focus on policy development is where the report could "serve as a springboard for future discussions about funding options to address airport investment needs," he said, adding that his service on the advisory committee reflects AOPA’s "consistent engagement in the state’s aviation issues."

"AOPA will work to ensure that any funding options that arise from the study minimize the impact on our members and the general aviation community," he said.

Ulane noted that airports in Washington State "will require significant investments going forward to maintain an adequate level of safety and efficiency," and urged members who may have an opportunity to participate in the study to do so, given its importance for future policy.