SSB 5370

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

C 396 L 19

Synopsis as Enacted

Brief Description: Creating a state commercial aviation coordinating commission.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Transportation (originally sponsored by Senators Keiser, Warnick, Saldaña, Hasegawa, Wilson, C. and Honeyford).

Senate Committee on Transportation

House Committee on Transportation

Background: Past Studies. In 1990, SB 6480 created the Air Transportation Commission (AIRTRAC) with a broad mandate to study the state's air transportation needs. AIRTRAC concluded the addition of a third runway at Sea-Tac was the only viable solution to meeting regional air service needs. In 1994, the Legislature dissolved AIRTRAC and a moratorium on Puget Sound airport expansion correspondingly expired.

A Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) air cargo study completed in December 2018 concluded that while airside capacity is adequate, landside capacity—such as cargo buildings—is inadequate to meet the cargo needs of the main air cargo airports in the state, particularly at Sea-Tac. The landside capacity deficit could be worsened by the rapid growth of passenger demand at Sea-Tac. The JTC study further concluded access to the two Seattle airports is restricted due to congestion and increasing costs to shippers and trucking companies. The study recommended a number of strategies to address air cargo congestion in Washington, including developing non-hub airports into regional logistics centers, establishing an air cargo development program, and marking Washington air cargo.

Current Studies. Sea-Tac is the ninth busiest airport in the nation when measured by passenger boardings—22.6 million in 2017—and nineteenth in air cargo volume in North America—425,000 metric tons in 2017. The airport offers daily, non-stop service to 90 domestic and 25 international destinations. Both passenger and cargo traffic are forecast to continue to grow. Sea-Tac airport is currently in the environmental review phase of a master plan to address growth at the airport.

In 2018 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funded the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) to complete a regional aviation baseline study. The study will build on individual airport master plans and set a regional stage for future aviation planning. The PSRC study is not a siting study, but will provide a comprehensive view of the regional aviation system and inform follow-up actions by policymakers.

Summary: An intent section states the Legislature seeks to identify a location for a new primary commercial aviation facility in Washington.

The state Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (Commission) is created.

Commission's Role, The Commission must initiate a broad review of potential aviation facility sites, review existing data, and conduct research as necessary. A shortlist of six sites must be recommended by January 1, 2021, narrowed to two sites by September 1, 2021, and a single preferred location for a new commercial aviation facility must be identified by January 1, 2022. Options for a new primary commercial aviation facility in Washington may include expansion of an existing airport facility. The Commission must project a timeline for developing an additional commercial aviation facility that is completed and functional by 2040. The Commission must also make recommendations on future Washington State long-range commercial facility needs.

Commission's Membership. The Commission is made up of 15 voting and 11 nonvoting positions. The Governor may appoint additional nonvoting members as deemed appropriate.

The Commission's voting membership includes one member from the Department of Commerce, one member from the Department of Transportation (DOT) Aeronautics Division and the following 13 voting members appointed by the Governor:

The commission shall invite the following nonvoting members:

Commission Administration. DOT must provide staff support as necessary. DOT must convene the initial meeting as soon as practicable. Commission members are not entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses if they are elected officials or are participating on behalf of an employer, governmental entity, or other organization. The Commission must select a chair from among its membership. The Commission ends July 1, 2022.

Votes on Final Passage:







(House amended)

(Senate refused to concur)

(House insisted/asked Senate for conference)

Conference Committee








July 28, 2019