Airport Master Plan Update

The Master Plan Update for Paine Field has been prepared to assess and direct master improvements that will be required to accommodate future aviation demand.

To get started exploring the Master Plan for Paine Field Snohomish County Airport, you may review the executive summary below. Links to the master plan's table of contents and accompanying documentation are provided at the bottom of the page.

Executive Summary
The Master Plan Update for Paine Field has been prepared to assess and direct improvements that will be required to accommodate future aviation demand. The master planning process made use of a study advisory committee to provide input concerning airport development issues, as well as a series of public information meetings to provide an opportunity for interested citizens to understand and provide input into the process. Five study advisory committee meetings and four public information meetings were held to gather input on the airport and establish a concept for future development at the airport from a broad range of interested parties. Throughout the planning process, the development of the Airport Master Plan Update was coordinated with airport staff and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Following the production of the draft report containing the Master Plan Update recommendations, a public information meeting (open house), along with a study advisory committee meeting was held on July 31, 2002. In addition, a briefing presentation was made to the Snohomish County Council to present airport development recommendations. Comments from all interested parties including the FAA, received during and following these meetings, were taken into consideration when final master planning documents were prepared.

The draft long-term development plan for the airport is described in the following paragraphs and is graphically depicted on the conceptual development plan illustration.

Aviation Activity Forecasts
The forecasting of future airport activity in terms of aircraft operations (landings and takeoffs), and based aircraft at Paine Field, serves as a significant basis for analyzing existing airport facilities and identifying future needs and requirements for these facilities. The FAA requires the use of unconstrained forecasts for airport planning documents; therefore, this master plan update recognizes that Paine Field will continue to be an important general aviation airport with significant large aircraft manufacturing, maintenance, and repair facilities. In addition, because of population located in the vicinity of the airport, the driving time to Seattle-Tacoma Airport, and forecast population growth in the region, it can be assumed that some level of unconstrained demand exists for commercial passenger service at Paine Field.

The master plan update identifies the potential for moderate growth in general aviation (general aviation aircraft are primarily used by individuals and companies to support private, charter, and corporate activity) at the airport, as well as continuing to be a center for aircraft manufacturing and repair. To best understand the potential commercial passenger demand, four forecast scenarios were formulated. On July 25, 2001, the Snohomish County Council adopted the regional-low forecast scenario for use in this Airport Master Plan Update. The regional-low forecast for passenger enplanements (boardings) is the lowest of the four scenarios and is based on the assumption that, if actual demand occurs, the airport is most likely to accommodate passengers from a limited geographic area surrounding the airport (a thirty-minute drive time), and that routes flown out of the airport will have a regional focus (within a 500-mile range). The adopted passenger enplanement forecast assumptions used in this master plan update are similar to those used in the 1995 Airport Master Plan for Paine Field and provide a scenario similar to Horizon Airlines' recent proposal for Paine Field to Portland, Oregon service. A summary of the adopted unconstrained 20-year forecast is presented in the executive summary brochure. Included in the table are projections related to the annual number of aircraft operations broken down by type, passenger enplanements, and based aircraft.

Development Assumptions
In concert with the status of the airport, some basic assumptions have been established in the master plan update that are intended to direct the development of the airport in the future. These include:
  • Assumption One: The airport will be developed and operated in a manner that is consistent with the Snohomish County Code, federal and state statutes, federal grant assurances, and Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
  • Assumption Two: This assumption recognizes that this master plan update for the airport is only the most recent effort in an ongoing, long-term planning effort for Paine Field. In particular, the provisions and recommendations made in the 1978-79 Mediated Role Determination should be considered in the formulation of development recommendations.

    While adopting the master plan update forecasts in 2001, the county council, in motion 01-255, added clarity to the intent of the "Mediated Role," saying "NOW THEREFORE ON MOTION; The Snohomish County Council approves the Airport Master Plan study's Forecasts of Aviation Activity working paper and adopts the Regional Low Forecast for aviation activity at Paine Field over the next 20 years, finding that it is most consistent with the existing County policy stated in the 1978/79 Mediated Role Determination. The Council reaffirms the General Aviation Role's objective to retain and enhance light aircraft general aviation as the dominant aeronautical activity at Paine Field while encouraging the continuation and expansion of aircraft related industries, business and corporate aviation, public service aviation, air taxi and commuter service, and strongly discouraging expansion beyond 1978 levels of supplemental /charter air passenger service (per 14 CFR Part 121 SFAR 38-2 pp6), large transport crew training operations, air cargo aviation and military aviation while remaining compliant with the covenants in deeds and grants of the United States Government."
  • Assumption Three: This assumption relates to the size and type of aircraft that will utilize Paine Field and the resulting setback and safety criteria used as the basis for the layout of airport facilities. Because various areas on the airport are intended for use by aircraft with widely varying physical and operational characteristics, they can be designed with different criteria. For Runway 16R / 34L and its supporting taxiway/ramp system, the design aircraft is the B-747-400. These portions of the airport should be designed using Airport Reference Code (ARC) D-V criteria. For Runway 16L/34R and Runway 11 / 29, which primarily accommodate general aviation aircraft under 12,500 pounds, design criteria as provided in ARC B-I (small aircraft only) are appropriate.
  • Assumption Four: Because of the importance of general aviation and industrial aviation activity at the airport, the fourth assumption relates to the need for the airport to accommodate aircraft operations with great reliability. This indicates that the airport's runway system should be developed with adequate runway lengths and approach guidance facilities to accommodate the forecast operations under almost all weather conditions. In addition, the airport's runway and taxiway system should be designed to maximize operational flexibility and facilitate large aircraft industrial operations.
  • Assumption Five: Because landside development area at the airport is at a premium, the fifth assumption is that the plan for future airport development should strive to maximize the area available for aviation related activities. Aviation and non-aviation areas should be developed to be compatible with surrounding areas, as well as provide the maximum amount of revenues to help support airport operating and maintenance expenses.
  • Assumption Six: The sixth assumption focuses on the relationship of the airport to off-airport land uses and the compatible and complimentary development of each. This is inherent in the design considerations and placement of facilities so as to complement, to the maximum extent possible, off-airport development, and, to enhance the compatibility of the airport environs with the operation of the airport.
  • Assumption Seven: This assumption states that, in consideration of the congested airspace surrounding Paine Field and the Seattle Metropolitan Area, recreational activities such as parachuting, ballooning, and ultra-light activity will be discouraged from occurring near the airport.
Development Recommendations
Because existing airport facilities are well configured to accommodate existing demand, the improvement recommendations contained in the master plan update are not extraordinary. Rather, the improvements that will be needed over the next two decades will be focused on upgrades that will allow the airport to efficiently and safely accommodate anticipated aviation activity.

Airside Recommendations
  • Runways: The existing runway system at Paine Field is adequate to accommodate existing and projected demand in terms of the number of operations and the runway lengths available. The main runway (Runway 16R / 34L) will be maintained to serve all aircraft types with a width of 150 feet and a length of 9,010 feet. The secondary runway and crosswind runway will continue to serve only small general aviation aircraft. Runway 16L / 34R will maintain a width of 75 feet and a length of 3,000 feet, while the crosswind runway's (Runway 11 / 29) width will remain at 75 feet and its length at 4,504 feet.
  • Instrument Approach Capabilities: The existing precision instrument approach capabilities that enable low-minimum (CAT I) approaches to the north end of the main runway will be retained, as well as the non-precision approach capabilities to the south end of the main runway. The secondary parallel runway and the crosswind runway will be maintained as visual-approach-only facilities. It is also recommended that the airport should continue to protect for a very low-minimum (CAT II) approach to the north end of the main runway and for a low-minimum precision instrument approach to Runway 34L (the south end of the main runway). The demand for a low-minimum precision instrument approach to Runway 34L is presently not sufficient to justify its implementation; however, at some point in the future, this improvement may become more important. In the short-term, it remains a priority that a straight-in VOR approach (and/or a better more usable non-precision GPS approach) be established to serve Runway 34L.
Landside Recommendations
The potential need for landside aviation-use facilities (aircraft parking aprons, hangars, terminal facilities, industrial aviation facilities, etc.) has been analyzed for both the short- and long-term (50 years). The long-term potential need, along with a determination of the areas of the airport that can feasibly be provided with taxiway access, was used as the basis for the formulation of a conceptual plan. The previously mentioned conceptual development plan details the types of future uses programmed for airport property.

It should be noted that the central portion of the airport (between the parallel runways) will remain the most intensely developed area. Within the central area, the new development on the north side of the crosswind runway will be focused on general aviation hangars, a corporate aviation terminal, airport administrative functions, and passenger terminal facilities. On the south side of the crosswind runway, new development in the central area will be primarily related to general aviation hangars and industrial aviation facilities. Airport compatible commercial / industrial uses are programmed for the southern portion of the central area (the former Navy Housing site).

On the east side of airport property, only the area directly east of the secondary parallel runway can be feasibly provided with taxiway access; therefore, it is the only site programmed for aviation use. The remainder of the east side area is programmed for airport compatible commercial / industrial use.

On the west side of airport property, the area north of the western approach to the crosswind runway (Runway 11 / 29) will be primarily used for industrial or corporate aviation use (the Boeing Company has first right of refusal for leasing this site). The northwest corner of airport property has been programmed to accommodate a museum / tour center / hotel complex. The southwest portion of the airport is programmed to accommodate corporate aviation activity on those sites that can potentially be provided with taxiway access. Other portions of the southwest area are programmed for airport compatible commercial / industrial development.

Development Program
The details of the development program for the Paine Field Master Plan Update, including a capital improvement project list, project cost estimates, a proposed phasing of projects, and financial feasibility analysis were formulated following the refinement of the conceptual development plan in light of comments received from county management, the study advisory committee, and as a result of input received at public information meetings. In overview and summary, the long-term development program calls for the retention of the existing layout of facilities. The project list and phasing proposal provides for a development program that is divided into three phases: the first or short-range phase (0-5 years), the second or intermediate-range phase (5-10 years), and the third or long-range phase (10-20 years). Projects planned for each phase are to be implemented on an "as needed" basis. In addition to revenues generated on the airport, capital improvement funding sources identified include the Federal Aviation Administration and third-party private investment.

Phase I (0-5 Years) Projects
  • Construct East Ramp Aviation Center
  • Construct FBO / Terminal
  • Construct K-5/6 Hangar Area
  • Construct K-5/6 Ramp Area
  • Construct North Ramp Hangars > Phase II
  • Construct Northwest Area Drainage Improvements
  • Construct Small Aircraft Engine Run-up Area Adjacent to Taxiway A-4
  • Construct Taxiway K-1
  • Construct West Side Commercial Area > South Portion
  • Construction of National Flight Interpretative Center
  • Construction of Taxiway W
  • Construction of West Ramp Hangars > Phase I
  • Expand East Ramp
  • Expand Inner / Outer Terminal Ramp
  • Grade Southern Portion of Northwest Area
  • Install Security Fencing
  • Install Security Lighting
  • Install Sewer Line > Northwest Area
  • Install Sewer Line for K-5/6 Area
  • Pavement Maintenance / Rehabilitation
  • Prepare North Ramp Hangar Site
  • Purchase Snow Blower
  • Rehabilitate Central Ramp
  • Remove Obstructions
  • Upgrade Runway / Taxiway Lighting
Phase II (5-10 Years) Projects
  • 112th Street Commercial / Business Development
  • Construct K-5/6 Hangar Area
  • Construct K-5/6 Ramp Area
  • Construct New ARFF Facility
  • Construct New Maintenance Facility
  • Construct New Terminal Ramp
  • Construct Taxiway A-2.5
  • Construct Taxiway K-2.5
  • Construct West Ramp Hangars > Phase II
  • Construct West Side Commercial Area > Central Portion
  • Construction of Passenger Terminal Facilities
  • Implement New Approach to Runway 34L
  • Improve 100th St. Southwest and Terminal Access
  • Install Security Fencing
  • Install Security Lighting
  • Pavement Rehabilitation
  • Purchase New ARFF Vehicle
  • Redevelop Navy Housing Area > Phase I
  • Rehabilitate 112th St. S.W.
  • Removal of Obstructions

Phase III (10-20 Years) Projects
  • Overlay Runway 16R / 34L
  • Pavement Maintenance
  • Redevelop Navy Housing Area > Phase II
  • Rehabilitate the South Ramp
  • Removal of Obstructions
The Snohomish County Council held a public hearing on December 4, 2002 and adopted the Airport Master Plan Update. The master plan update was then submitted to the FAA. The FAA conducted a review and issued a letter on November 13, 2003 approving the Airport Layout Plan and accepting the Airport Master Plan Update.

It should also be emphasized that projects represented as potentially needed in this master plan update are based on forecast demand; only those projects that are required to meet actual demand will be proposed for construction. If demands do not increase as rapidly as anticipated, several of the proposed projects will be eliminated or delayed. Conversely, demand for facilities could occur earlier than anticipated. Certainly, the capital improvement financial implications of the project list detailed above are significant for Snohomish County and the FAA; yet, they are not unreasonable or unattainable for an airport facility like Paine Field, whose role is regionally, nationally, and internationally critical.

2002-2021 Snohomish County Airport Paine Field Master Plan
Additional Documentation
The above documents are in Adobe PDF file format. To view these documents you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't already have the program, download a free copy online.