Paine Field is the economic hub of Snohomish County. The airport’s mission is to contribute to the economic vitality and quality of life of the region. It supports more than 35,000 aerospace jobs, including Boeing, Aviation Technical Services, and several dozen smaller companies. It is home to more than 620 aircraft, from small trainers to corporate jets and new Boeing airliners.
This is an exciting year for the airport and for Boeing. Three new Boeing airplanes — the 787 Dreamliner, the 747-8 Freighter and the 747-8 Intercontinental — have received FAA certification. First deliveries of the 787 and 747-8 Freighter took place in 2011 and the 747-8 Intercontinental is due for its first customer delivery in early 2012. These new aircraft are state of the art and promise significant environmental advances, including lower noise footprints, reduced emissions, longer range capabilities and lower fuel use. The newest models of the 777 and 767 are also produced at Paine Field and can be seen daily at the airport.
There are also regular flight operations of the 747 large cargo freighters, which bring major assemblies to Everett from other Dreamliner manufacturing sites in Japan, Italy and the U.S.
Goodrich and Esterline have several facilities that support the production of new aircraft with landing gear, engine nacelles and electronics. Aviation Technical Services is North America’s largest, single-site, third-party provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul services for aircraft. Their customers include Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, UPS and the U.S. government.
The Federal Aviation Administration staffs an air traffic control tower and maintains a Category 1 Instrument Landing System to the main runway, which is 9,010 feet long. Two additional runways are available for small aircraft.
A draft environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act was released in December 2009 in response to two requests to begin commercial air service at Paine Field. It is under review by the FAA and a federal determination is expected in early 2012.
The airport’s aviation and industrial facilities continue to expand and provide economic value to the county. In 2010, a new fire station and four new corporate hangars were completed for about $25 million and Korry Electronics finished a 215,000-square-foot facility that brought about 600 new jobs to Snohomish County. Boeing developed seven new aircraft stalls to handle increased production levels. FAA grants have funded another $25 million in recent airfield construction projects. The total cost of these projects is about $200 million.
Paine Field has become a world-class aviation attraction with the Future of Flight Aviation Center &Boeing Tour, the Flying Heritage Collection, the Museum of Flight Restoration Center, the Me-262 Classic Fighters and Historic Flight.
The Future of Flight Aviation Center &Boeing Tour, open for five years, has increased attendance at the Boeing tour by more than 100 percent and attracted more than 200,000 visitors in 2011. This facility includes a theater, two gift stores, an interactive gallery of aviation exhibits and numerous rooms for conferences and meetings. A new taxiway and ramp offer many new fly-in opportunities. The facility’s website, www.futureofflight.org, sells reserved tickets for a tour of the Boeing plant and Future of Flight displays.
In mid-2008, Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection opened at Paine Field in a newly renovated hangar space to display a large collection of rare and authentic World War II aircraft, nearly all flyable. The Flying Heritage Collection’s mission is to restore, fly and preserve combat aircraft with an emphasis on WWII aircraft. More information is available at www.flyingheritage.com. Flying Heritage conducts fly days every other weekend during the summer.
The Historic Flight Foundation held its grand opening in 2010 with its growing collection of flyable aircraft produced between 1927 and 1957. More aircraft are in restoration and can be expected to be added. The B-25D Mitchell bomber “Grumpy” arrived in late 2009 and is available for close inspection. Historic Flight plans to restore a T-33 jet in the hangar and to bring visitors up close to the project work. The foundation will emphasize education and restoration. Learn more at www.historicflight.org.
The Museum of Flight Restoration Center, located at the Airport’s entrance on 100th Street SW, is a wonderful attraction for aviation enthusiasts and the general public. Volunteers restore aircraft to museum-quality condition for preservation and display. Learn more about the Restoration Center at www.museumofflight.org.
Legend Flyers is reproducing Me 262 fighters, first made by Germany late in WWII. Three of the aircraft have been completed and are flying. Check them out at www.stormbirds.com/project/index.html.
More than ever before, Paine Field and Snohomish County provide all that is needed for aviation and economic development. A wide range of information about the airport is available at www.painefield.com.
Dave Waggoner is director of the Snohomish County Airport.