Cantwell Touts Sea-Tac Airport’s Green Initiatives at Aviation Hearing

Projects reduced greenhouse emissions by 55,000 metric tons, saving $20 million

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Aviation Subcommittee hearing today on airport infrastructure, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) praised Sea-Tac Airport’s initiatives to become greener and more energy efficient.

“Airports, and the aviation industry in general, have tried to become more efficient,” said Cantwell, ranking member on the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security. “These projects have resulted in a reduction of more than 55,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and annual savings of approximately $20 million for airlines that serve Sea-Tac. Obviously that’s good news for Sea-Tac and for those airlines.”

Those efforts include:

  • Providing pre-conditioned air to planes parked at gates, enabling them to save fuel by turning off their on-board power units;
  • Providing electrical power so airlines can convert airport fleets to run on electricity;
  • Operating its own ramp tower, which allows controllers to more efficiently guide aircraft from 69 mainline gates to the runway, where they are guided by the Federal Aviation Administration control tower.

Cantwell called for more aggressive movement on converting the nation’s air traffic control system to the “NextGen” satellite-based system that will create more efficient air travel.

“We want to think more about how we implement NextGen across the airport system, which is a lot of coordination by both the airports and the airlines and the FAA,” Cantwell said. “There are real saving there, and we need to focus on how to help with those saving by making investments into that infrastructure.”

Thursday’s hearing focused on reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration and how to finance airport infrastructure needs. Sea-Tac Airport Managing Director Mark Reis was among five witnesses to testify about airport infrastructure needs and economic growth. The Port of Seattle is planning several expansion projects, including a new international arrivals terminal.