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Washington State Aviation Policy

Transportation Commission
Adopts New Policy

The Washington State Transportation Commission has adopted a statewide advisory committee's recommendations for a new state aviation policy. The policy features changes to the state's roles in airport preservation, aviation safety, airport capacity, environmental protection, and educational outreach on aviation issues.

"The policy reflects a good balance of local, regional, and industry concerns," said Aubrey Davis, a member of the Washington State Transportation Commission. Adds his fellow Commissioner Tom Green, "The Transportation Commission is looking forward to the policy's implementation, as it will enhance the state's economic health and quality of life."

What does the policy do?

The new policy strengthens the state's role as an advocate and a facilitator of aviation interests. For example, the policy directs the development of a technical assistance program within WSDOT to help implement a 1996 law that requires local governments to protect general aviation airports from incompatible adjacent land uses, and to incorporate airports into local comprehensive plans.

Other changes to the state's roles include:

  • Pursuing increases to the State Airport Aid Program
  • Increasing funds for general aviation infrastructure funding for safety purposes
  • Requesting that the state's Growth Management Act recognize airports as essential public facilities
  • Including roadways and transit connections in the State Aviation System Plan
  • Creating a mechanism to mitigate the impacts of essential transportation facilities, such as airports, using a regional approach
  • Facilitating communication among aviation stakeholders, as well as providing information about aviation issues to citizens and elected officials

Why do we need a new state policy on aviation?

Cashmere airplanes on groundOver 10 million passengers now land and take off from a Washington airport every year, more than 500,000 metric tons of air cargo pass through our state airports, and more and more pilots depend on the state's 129 public use airports. Aviation plays a critical role in our state's transportation system. With new challenges facing Washington's aviation system, there is a need for clear policy direction to meet these new challenges.

How was the policy developed?

Cars parked in foreground and planes in the background at Masfield AirportIn 1996, the Washington State Transportation Commission convened a group of aviation stakeholders to identify key aviation challenges, beyond our current role, and make recommendations on the state's role in addressing them.  This Aviation Policy Advisory Committee included members of the Washington Pilots Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, small airports, the Washington Airport Management Association, cities and counties, airlines, state and federal agencies, ports, regional transportation planning organizations and community groups. 

The Advisory Committee developed a set of policy recommendations that was presented to pilot and aircraft owner organizations, industry groups, and other stakeholders throughout Washington between December 1997 and March 1998. After incorporating comments from these public forums, the Advisory Committee presented its report to the Washington State Transportation Commission in late March.

The Transportation Commission decided to adopt these recommendations as the state's aviation policy, which will be included in Washington's Transportation Plan.

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