Business

Bremerton Airport returns FAA certification

Citing a bleak outlook for commercial air service in Kitsap County, Bremerton National Airport recently announced plans to let its Federal Aviation Administration certification lapse.

The move could save the Port of Bremerton $50,000-$150,000 a year after the port transfers management of its fueling depot to a private group and completes a planned staff reorganization.

Airport staff had to inspect pavement surfaces, safety areas and airfield lights daily to maintain certification. Without the certification, the inspections would need to be done only weekly.

That’s where the savings will come from, officials said.

The airport also was required to maintain an Aircraft Rescue Firefighting (ARF) unit in case a commercial airplane crashed or caught fire. FAA regulations required ongoing training for the eight maintenance workers on the team. A 1980s-vintage crash response vehicle also needed regular maintenance, and a Kitsap County Fire District 7 volunteer firefighting station was maintained on port property.

Now, the port can either store or sell the aging truck and rely on fire district coverage, possibly with the help of former ARF team members.

“We’ll be re-educating our crews on the possibility of that,” said Port CEO Ken Attebery.

The airport has been certified since the mid-1970s, and small commercial airline companies have offered service to SeaTac Airport in the past. The last group to offer such service, Harbor Airlines, folded several years ago. Port officials don’t think replacements are forthcoming.

Port and airport officials fault the lagging economy and the existence of other options — including the Kitsap Airporter bus — for getting between Kitsap County and SeaTac. New security requirements also would require the airport to implement new check-in and baggage screening guidelines if an airline reinstated the Bremerton-SeaTac route.

Airport officials said it’s not worth maintaining the certification in hopes that an interested airline company will walk in the door.

If a company does apply for a commercial service lease, Salisbury said the port could likely re-obtain the certification relatively quickly.

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