Commentary: With Paine Field expansion on horizon, get involved
During the 1970s and ’80s I was an active pilot, often flying in and out of Paine Field, Everett. During that time there was an effort by Snohomish County to enlarge the facilities and incorporate commercial aviation at the field. As you can imagine, there were many homeowners and local businesses who were concerned about this potential development.
There was a community effort to reach an agreement. I served as Chairman of the Paine Field Mediation Team, and the Steering Committee, as well as the Community Council consisting of more than a dozen users of the field from flight service companies to Boeing.
Over several years we hammered out a plan, approved by the Snohomish County Planning Commission, that confirmed that the airport would remain a “general aviation” facility and not serve “commercial flights.” This gave the green light to the thousands of homes and businesses that have been developed along the Mukilteo Speedway.
If you’ve been keeping up with media reports, you know that this agreement declared 35-plus years ago has been overturned and passenger flights were expected to begin in the fall of 2018. This has been delayed by the FAA because Alaska Airline, Southwest and United will bring more passengers than originally approved in the 2012 environmental impact assessment.
The FAA has required a new review because of increased operation by more airlines and a different fleet mix, which in fact would double those previously anticipated.
The three airlines mentioned plan to have 24 flights per day or 48 take-offs and landings, accounting for about 1,000 passengers. If service demand increases, Alaska could bring in their 737 fleet, which seats up to 189 passengers, but even without the Alaska expansion, operations could account for over 2,000 passengers per day.
Residents north of the Everett area appear to be looking forward to having an alternative to driving to SeaTac, but many residents and merchants are greatly concerned about an increase of traffic, road congestion and overflight noise. Mukilteo brought a lawsuit that the Washington State Supreme Court refused to hear.
If you are concerned about the noise of overflights in your area, be alert for another opportunity to voice your opinion in the coming months as the FAA is required to provide a 30-day public comment period.
There are several real-time flight tracking apps that are easy to use. For example: flight tracker and flight aware. Each can provide information about the airline, altitude, speed, etc., which is a handy detailed description that you can use to call the “noise complaint” hot line at 425-388-5125 option 4. In addition, of course, you can track your flight information when traveling.
The longest main runway is virtually North/South which puts both departing and landing flights (depending on the wind) in our direction. There are noise abatement procedures if the airport and the pilot choose to follow them.
Currently the airport is classified as a national reliever facility. Could it become an international airport and what would that mean in addition to the current direction of commercial flights? I’m sure the residents near SeaTac Airport would have an answer.
Yes, there are some travel benefits, but at the expense of our largely residential community. We all know that growth and change are inevitable, but how it occurs is up to each of us to determine.
Get involved as many of us did nearly 40 years ago because as you can see, nothing is forever and commitments can be broken.