The Port Applauds Kilmer’s Efforts to Protect William R. Fairchild International Airport

Oct 9, 2018

The Port of Port Angeles welcomed passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act and is grateful for the work of Congressman Derek Kilmer on successfully adding an amendment to the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) portion of the bill. Kilmer’s amendment modifies the criteria used by the FAA in making critical decisions, such as the runway length, required in the development of a Master Plan for an airport. With the change, the FAA must consider community emergency and medical response needs in their planning and funding plans for an airport.

The amendment emerged from public concern regarding the potential loss of emergency medical flight evacuations for the Northern Olympic Peninsula due to a potential reduction of runway length because of the application of FAA rules in determining runway length. Local, regional, state and Federal emergency responders also expressed significant concern because of the important role of William R. Fairchild International Airport (CLM) in the event of a major earthquake or other natural disaster.

Upon passage of this important legislation, Kilmer stated, “In rural communities like Port Angeles, the fastest way to get help in an emergency is by air. When Congress and the FAA decide to cut funding for rural airports, they’re actually cutting the length of our runways and lifelines that keep us safe when the next earthquake or forest fire strikes. I’m glad my amendment is moving to the President’s desk where it will become law. I’ll keep pushing for the region’s rural airports which keep us safe, support local jobs and strengthen our regions’ economy”

Congressman Kilmer thanked the Port of Port Angeles and the FAA for their work on the amendment.

Connie Beauvais, President of the Port of Port Angeles Commission, acknowledged the support and engagement of many groups that worked with Congressman Kilmer and the Port over the last two years. She stated, “The Port of Port Angeles is thrilled with the outcome of two years of work by Congressman Kilmer on this important amendment. We also want to acknowledge the support and advice we received from the Washington National Guard, the Port Angeles City Council, the Washington Department of Transportation’s Aviation team, and local law enforcement officials. In particular, we thank the FAA for working with us on this important issue.”

In 2016, the FAA considered the length of the runway at CLM that is eligible for funding. The runway length determination is an outcome of the FAA’s Master Planning process and, under current policy, is limited to the frequency of use by type and size of aircraft. During the Master Planning process for CLM, the Port and numerous emergency response stakeholders worked with the FAA to educate the agency on the important and unique role of CLM for providing emergency and medical response needs for the North Olympic Peninsula.

Kilmer’s amendment adds this new criterion on an airport’s role for emergency preparedness and medical emergencies into the FAA’s Master Planning process. The amendment will assist airports with these uniquely important functions in future funding from FAA programs. For CLM, maintaining the current 5,000-foot runway will also help support economic development initiatives being developed by the Port of Port Angeles.

For further information, please contact:

Karen Goschen at (360) 417-3424

Executive Director

Port of Port Angeles

Fairchild Airport