Thanks to all that attended the SOC annual meeting this past Sunday representing neighborhoods from Mill Creek to Edmonds, all through Mukilteo and beyond. Your questions, comments, concerns and willingness to engage demonstrate our collective commitment to ensure scheduled flight and terminal operations fully comply with obligations to mitigate all direct and indirect impacts.
There are now three airlines who have announced flights from Paine Field, with a combined projected 24 flights per day, and the terminal is not even built yet! The original FAA Environmental Assessment conducted in 2009 considered 2 flights per day up to a maximum of 11.5 flights per day at year 5. A City of Everett study in 2008 estimated 5 flights per day and included the possibility of a homeowners fund for mitigation.
There have been no completed assessments of the impacts of the additional flights, or if there have been, there has been no public announcement of or public input on such assessments. Conditions like traffic, number of students and schools, residential projects and real estate values have all changed since 2009 and so have the number of proposed flights. Additional study is required. There must be legitimate opportunities for public input.
This is exactly what SOC has been warning about for years, but was rebuked by proponents of commercial flights. This is classic “death by 1000 cuts”. Just a couple flights per day, just 11 flights, just 5 more flights, just 8 more flights, just …
None of this changes the fact that impacts should be identified and mitigated. Additional studies must be conducted by the FAA and County to address the additional flight activity, traffic, noise, air emissions and so on. It is critical that these studies be comprehensive and objective as the results should identify mitigation measures.
These decisions are obviously important now but might also impact decisions for any future expansion at Paine Field. They need to get this right. SOC and others will press for public comment opportunities in these addendum study processes.
One last thing, the airlines themselves can agree to mitigation actions like what time of day they fly and the type of aircraft they use. Alaska and United announced their intention to use a smaller quieter aircraft that needs less than half the runway to safely takeoff - that would mitigate some of the noise impacts. This is a smart and fair thing to do and we welcome opportunities to meet with the airlines and Propeller to further discuss mitigation options.
Stay tuned to announcements regarding public engagement, comment periods and how to participate. Be sure to encourage all your friends and neighbors to sign up on our website so they can stay informed too!