Future of city’s airport up in the air

The future of the Ocean Shores Municipal Airport appears to be up in the air after the Federal Aviation Administration recently announced changes in how it certifies smaller airports, declassifying the Ocean Shores Airport.

The Ocean Shores airport was declassified because it has fewer than 10 aircraft based there and is within 30 miles of a general aviation airport at Hoquiam’s Bowerman Field, the City Council was told Monday night.

The Port of Grays Harbor, which owns Bowerman, was recently told it would also face funding changes. The FAA will no longer fund paving the Bowerman runway up to 150 feet, possibly leading to a reduction in the runway’s width to 100 feet if the Port decides not to make up the difference in some other way. There will be no change in the types of aircraft able to use Bowerman, the Port said.

Currently, there are just three aircraft based regularly at the Ocean Shores facility.

The recent FAA Asset Study categorized nearly 3,000 General Aviation airports into four areas: national, regional, local, and basic. However, 497 airports did not fit into a category under the original study. The FAA placed 216 airports into one of four categories but the remaining 281 airports were unable to meet minimum criteria for an existing category, according to a city report

“Ocean Shores Municipal Airport was one of the airports that the FAA could not determine a classification but it will remain in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) as unclassified, and the FAA will monitor our activity level and role for possible changes,” said the report to be presented to the City Council by Karla Roberts, the city’s airport manager.

Roberts’ report says the FAA will re-evaluate the city’s airport in 2016 “to possibly reverse the decision. If they do not reverse the decision, we will lose our $150,000 per year (in) entitlement funds.”

Bill Capron, who heads the city’s Airport Committee and is a regular user of the airport, said the intent is to find a way to change the FAA classification. To provide for 10 aircraft, however, would require indoor storage and hangars, where there already are hangars available that rent for under $100 a month at the Hoquiam airport, Capron said.

Capron said in the past the city has used the FAA funds “quite well to keep our airport updated” and the goal now of the airport board is to seek reclassification.

“We saved our money planning for some new projects, and we now have $600,000 that we have saved over the past four years, but they have told us we have to use that over the next two years and we do not get any more money from them unless we get them to reclassify our airport,” Capron said.

Aug. 23 will be city Airport Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a fly-in and aircraft display, and a classic car and street rod show.


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