Paine Field

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Paine Field
Snohomish County Airport
Aerial Paine Field August 2009.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Snohomish County
Serves Snohomish County, Washington
Elevation AMSL 608 ft / 185 m
Coordinates 47°54′22″N 122°16′53″W / 47.90611°N 122.28139°W / 47.90611; -122.28139Coordinates: 47°54′22″N 122°16′53″W / 47.90611°N 122.28139°W / 47.90611; -122.28139
PAE is located in Washington (state)
PAE is located in the US
Location of airport in Washington / United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
16R/34L 9,010 2,746 Asphalt
16L/34R 3,004 916 Asphalt
11/29 4,504 1,373 Asphalt (Closed)

Paine Field, also known as Snohomish County Airport (IATA: PAEICAO: KPAEFAA LID: PAE) is a small international airport located in unincorporated Snohomish County, between Mukilteo and Everett, Washington. It is served by a Federal Aviation Administration control tower, and has precision and non-precision instrument approaches available to pilots.


Paine Field has three runways: 16R-34L, 16L-34R and 11-29. 16R-34L, at 9,010 feet (2,750 m) in length, is suited for the majority of aircraft, and sees occasionally heavy traffic. It is in very good condition. Runway 16L-34R is 3,004 feet (916 m) in length, and suitable only for small aircraft. Its pavement is in fair condition, with a noticeable rise in elevation mid-field, when compared with the ends. Runway 11-29 is currently closed except for taxiing,[1] and Boeing is leasing some of the runways​ to park partially completed 787 aircraft​.[2]

The airport has 456 general aviation hangars, of which 326 are leased by the County, and 130 are "condominium" hangars.[3] Wait time for a hangar currently ranges between 6 months and 5 years, depending on type.[4]

Paine Field is home to the Boeing Everett Factory, the world's largest building by volume, and the primary assembly location for Boeing's wide-body 747, 767, 777 and some 787 aircraft.

Paine Field is also home to Aviation Technical Services (ATS), one of the nation's largest aviation maintenance facilities. ATS operate a 950,000-square-foot (88,000 m2) facility; formerly operated by Goodrich, and sold to ATS in the fall of 2007. ATS does 'heavy' checks for a number of airlines and cargo companies. According to their web page, they average 443 Aircraft Redeliveries each year.

Paine Field is home to four flight schools — Chinook Flight Simulations,[5] Regal Air,[6] Northway Aviation [7] and Everett Helicopters [8] — making it a popular destination for flight training. There are also a number of flying clubs on the field.

The FAA-operated control tower maintains limited hours, operating only between 7 AM and 9 PM local time. During times that the tower is operational, all runways are active, but after hours, only runway 16R-34L is open.[9]


Paine Field was originally constructed in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project. At the time of development, it was envisioned that the Airport would create jobs and economic growth in the region by becoming one of the ten new "super airports" around the country.

Paine Field was taken over by the U.S. Army Air Corps prior to entry into World War II as a patrol base, air defense base and fighter training base and was later controlled by the U.S. Army Air Forces. With the end of the war, the airfield began to be returned to the civilian control of Snohomish County. In 1947, as transition activities were still underway, military control of the then-Paine Army Airfield was transferred to the newly established U.S. Air Force, with the facility renamed Paine Field. Transfer of the property to the Snohomish County government was completed in 1948, however, the Air Force continued to maintain various Air Defense Command units at the airport as military tenants.

Before Snohomish County could start planning for the continued development of a "super airport", the United States was again involved in an armed conflict—this time in Korea and also the breakout of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. When the Pacific Northwest defense installations were reviewed House Representative Henry M. Jackson recommended more military presence in the area and Paine Field was reactivated as a military airbase.

Paine AFB Directory, 1959–1960. Cover photo views the base from the northwest and showing a formation of three F-89 Scorpions overflying the airfield.

Paine Field was returned to USAF control in 1951, renamed Paine Air Force Base, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Air Defense Command (ADC). While the county relinquished most of its commercial facilities to house USAF personnel, units and assets, the site did not have an exclusive military presence. The airfield remained a joint civil-military airport with the Air Force operating the control tower and other air traffic control facilities, while the county, in a shared use agreement, rented commercial lease hold areas to businesses such as Alaska Airlines. The 4753rd Air Base Squadron (later re-designated the 86th Air Base Squadron)[10] was activated on the new Air Force base on 1 February 1952 as a placeholder unit.

Although inactive for only six years, significant military construction (MILCON) was necessary to bring the World War II training base up to postwar USAF standards. In 1951, additional land surrounding the Paine AFB site was appropriated for military facilities and extended runways. A 9,000-foot jet runway (Rwy 16/34) was constructed along with accompanying taxiways, permanent concrete buildings and other support facilities to replace the temporary wartime wooden structures that were viewed as substandard for a permanent USAF base. The 529th Air Defense Group was activated on 16 February 1953 and became the permanent host unit at Paine AFB until redesignated as the 326th Fighter Group in 1955.

64th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron Convair F-102A-75-CO Delta Dagger 56-1344, 326th Fighter Group, March 1960

Various Regular Air Force fighter-interceptor units and Air Force Reserve troop carrier units operated at Paine AFB from 1951 until the mid-1960s. In 1966, USAF identified Paine AFB for closure due to budgetary constraints caused by the cost of the Vietnam War. The by then-host unit, the 57th Fighter Group phased down operations with the departure of the interceptors and was inactivated in place on 30 September 1968. Paine AFB was inactivated the same date and the facility was returned to full civilian control as Paine Field / Snohomish County Airport. Today, the only remaining USAF activity at Paine Field is a non-flying tenant unit, the 215th Engineering Installation Squadron (215 EIS) of the Washington Air National Guard.

Paine AFB / Paine Field had also been under consideration in the 1960s by the U.S. Army Air Defense Command as one of several sites for the Sentinel Anti-Ballistic Missile System due to its central location to several other major military bases and defense industries in the Puget Sound Region. That program was eventually dropped in favor of the limited Safeguard system.

On July 25, 1966, Boeing announced that it would build the Boeing 747, a jet airliner capable of carrying nearly twice as many passengers as previous models. To build the giant jet, Boeing had to construct a facility large enough to handle the world's largest commercial jetliner. Land just north of Paine Field was chosen to construct the new facilities, including some development on the airport itself. Both the local government and the FAA concurred with the development. Work on the massive building began in August 1966 and the first employees arrived in early 1967. The 747 made its first flight at Paine Field on February 9, 1969.

In late 2005, construction of the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour building was completed. The project, formerly known as the National Flight Interpretive Center, includes the Boeing factory tour as well as a gallery that highlights the newest developments in aviation; including both parts and components of airplanes manufactured by Airbus and Boeing. The facility was opened to private audience on December 16, 2005, the following day the facility was open to the public. The Museum of Flight also has a restoration center at the airport's main gate; located further south is the Me 262 Project. Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection has a large, refurbished hangar at the south end of the field, which opened as a museum June 2008. Historic Flight Foundation also houses and maintains early military aircraft.

Commercial air service[edit]

The use and expansion of the airport is currently governed by an agreement that was forged during 1978–1979 negotiations, called the Mediated Role Determination (MRD).[11] The MRD recommends the role of Paine Field to be as a general aviation and aerospace manufacturing airport (Page A-3 Paragraph 1), while discouraging other types of activities including supplemental/charter air passenger service (Page A-3 Paragraph 6).

In 2005 Snohomish County commissioned a panel to review the MRD, and in conclusion suggested the MRD "should not be ratified or revised, but should be retired as a policy document".[12] In June 2008 the Snohomish County Council rejected the findings of the panel, and as in 1989, 1992 & 2001, restated its opposition to commercial air passenger services operating from Paine Field.[13] The council stated:

Reaffirm our county's commitment to preserving the existing general aviation role of Paine Field, and [to] pursue any and all lawful and appropriate means to discourage any action that would facilitate, directly or indirectly, use of Paine Field for scheduled air passenger service or air cargo service, which may include an interlocal agreement.[14]

Snohomish County has adopted the policy of not spending funds to subsidize airlines or to pay for the infrastructure needed to support commercial air service. The local governments of Snohomish County (the airport's operator), and the neighboring cities of Brier (pop. 6,410), Edmonds (pop. 40,773), Lynnwood (pop. 34,017), Mountlake Terrace (pop. 20,078), Mukilteo (pop. 20,938), and Woodway (pop. 1,144) and local citizens groups such as Save Our Communities,[15] have all adopted resolutions against the use of Paine Field for commercial airline flights. In contrast, the Everett city (pop. 99,384) government has adopted a resolution in favor of the use of Paine Field for commercial air service.[16]

In 2008 two airlines, Allegiant Air and Horizon Air, expressed interest in establishing passenger flights to Paine Field to the airport authority.[17][18] In May 2008, in response to these requests, the Chairman of the Snohomish County Council sent Allegiant Air a letter stating their opposition to the request to start air service.[19]

The FAA in June 2008, in receipt of correspondence between Allegiant Air and Snohomish County and county executives, wrote the airport authority to reiterate that a recipient of federal FAA grants requires the County to not discriminate against commercial aeronautical activities offering services to the public, or risk an enforcement action under FAR 16. The FAA also stated that it would reasonably expect the airport operator to change the existing Class IV Airport operating certificate (AOC) to a Class I AOC in the event that Allegiant Air can secure facilities and/or land at the airport.[20]

The airport is currently conducting an environmental assessment of the effects of commercial aviation at Paine Field. A draft of the study was finished in December 2009, and the public comment period ended on February 5, 2010. Opposition to Paine Field hosting commercial air service was overwhelming in meetings held for comments on the draft environmental assessment.[21][22] The neighboring city of Mukilteo has hired aviation attorney Barbara Lichman of the firm Chevalier, Allen & Lichman of Costa Mesa, California. to represent the interests of the city during the environmental assessment and to stop the destruction of neighborhoods[neutrality is disputed] near the airport.[23] In addition Mukilteo has promised to "make it time consuming, expensive and stretch it out. We'll fight the terminal legally."[23] The FAA expects it will be June 2010 before they will be finished responding to the comments.[24]

On December 4, 2012, the FAA concluded that commercial airplanes could fly out of Paine Field without significantly adding to local noise and traffic. The findings clear the way for commercial operations along with construction of a terminal building.[25] In February 2013, Alaska Airlines informed the FAA that they would pursue 3 offering daily flights to Portland, and one daily flight to other vacation destinations.[26]

On February 5, 2013, the cities of Edmonds and Mukilteo, along with two individuals, filed notice with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that they intend to challenge the results of the Environmental Assessment released on December 4, 2012.[27]

On July 15, 2013 Allegiant Air refused the county's terms to operate a terminal at Paine.[28]

In June 2014, New York-based Propeller Investments asked Snohomish County to start discussions leading to their construction of a terminal and parking facility at Paine Field. Propeller Investments would shoulder the risk — leasing land from the airport, financing terminal construction and finding tenant airlines.[29] On March 2, 2015, Snohomish County approved a lease-option agreement that gave Propeller Airports three years to carry out preliminary design work, environmental studies and to obtain permits needed to construct a proposed two-gate passenger terminal.[30]

On March 4, 2016 a federal court denied an appeal by the City of Mukilteo and others citizens groups to prevent commercial flights at Paine Field.[31]

On May 17, 2017, Alaska Airlines announced it would fly 9 daily flights from PAE beginning in late 2018. Information about the flights will come in early 2018. [32]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations
Ameriflight Seattle-Boeing
Atlas Air Charleston (SC), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Grottaglie, Nagoya–Centrair, Wichita-McConnell AFB


  1. ^ "AirNav: KPAE - Snohomish County Airport (Paine Field)". 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Chinook Flight - Home". 
  6. ^ "Regal Air". 
  7. ^ "Northway Aviation". 
  8. ^ "Helicopters Northwest - Seattle Helicopter Tours, Flight School, Leasing and Maintenance". 
  9. ^ "AirNav: KPAE - Snohomish County Airport (Paine Field)". 
  10. ^ AFHRA Document 00410650
  11. ^ MRD.
  12. ^ page 188
  13. ^
  14. ^ County Council Reaffirms Commitment Opposing Commercial Passenger Air Service at Paine Field
  15. ^ Blue Utopia. "Save Our Communities". 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Thompson, Lynn (June 6, 2008). "FAA says county must talk to Allegiant Air". The Seattle Times. 
  18. ^ "Horizon Air Announces Intention to Fly from Paine Field". Alaska Airlines. October 2, 2008. 
  19. ^ Cooper, Mike; et al. (May 2008). "Letter to Robert Ashcroft, Allegiant Air" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-12-16. 
  20. ^ Expression of Interest for Allegiant Air to Operate at Snohomish County (Paine Field) Airport, Everett Washington
  21. ^ Thompson, Lynn (January 4, 2010). "Crowd against passenger service at Paine Field". The Seattle Times. 
  22. ^ Thompson, Lynn (January 21, 2010). "Mukilteo crowd lambastes Paine Field passenger plan". The Seattle Times. 
  23. ^ a b Mukilteo promises battle over Paine Field flights
  24. ^ Paine Field results delayed by months
  25. ^ FAA gives all-clear for commercial flights at Paine Field
  26. ^ "Alaska Airlines offers proposed Paine Field flight schedule". The Seattle Times. 
  27. ^ "Mukilteo, Edmonds to fight Paine Field flights". The Daily Herald. 
  28. ^ "Allegiant Air refuses terms for terminal at Paine Field". The Daily Herald. 
  29. ^ "A new passenger-terminal proposal for Paine Field". The Daily Herald. 
  30. ^ "Snohomish County OKs plan for commercial passenger terminal at Paine Field". The Seattle Times. 2 March 2015. 
  31. ^ "Court ruling opens a path for commercial flights at Paine Field". 
  32. ^ Gates, Dominic (May 17, 2017). "Alaska Airlines will start passenger flights from Everett’s Paine Field". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 

External links[edit]