Established in May 2022, the Aviation Committee is taking off! Please check back for more information as it becomes available.
An initial Advisory Committee meeting was on May 20, with our first official meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
The Links to the Zoom Recordings, and Meeting Notes are here.
Our November meeting has been postponed; watch for the next scheduled meeting.
We invite anyone on the island to join the committee or provide input! Please use the contact link below.
LICA has established an Advisory Aviation Committee to address concerns about manned aviation traffic over Lummi Island and to collect data, coordinate information, and develop communication efforts. This includes surveying residents, conducting research, and communicating with small plane owners and pilots. In this way, the island can contribute to and reinforce a good neighbor program in place at the Bellingham International Airport (BLI) and participate in positive and constructive interactions.
To identify and address impacts of aviation traffic over Lummi Island, in a positive and constructive manner.
Anticipated tasks include:
- Survey Lummi Islanders to better understand community concerns
- Collect data regarding small aircraft activity over the island
- Contact neighboring communities, particularly those with airstrips such as San Juan Island, Orcas and Blakely, to explore concerns and solutions
- Research electric aviation and its anticipated impacts on communities
- Collaborate with emergency services such as LIFD, Airlift NW, the Coast Guard, etc.
- Communicate with owners/pilots of small planes and aviation services, and other entities or agencies
Committee Members (please join us!)
- Catherine Shornick *
- David Parker
- Lee Mosley
- Greg Hall – Board Liaison
- Alan Krum – IT Liaison
The focus of this committee is to better understand and respond to issues associated with manned aircraft frequenting the skies above Lummi Island, including private planes, regional air carriers (such as San Juan Airlines and Island Air), contractors (such as construction companies), charters, and pilot training.
Lummi Island sits in the direct path between Friday Harbor and the Bellingham airport (eight miles east) and is frequently crossed by planes coming or going to BLI from other areas. Most aircraft fly just north of Lummi Mountain across the narrowest part of the island, with some flying over Scenic Estates and many clipping the north end of LI. Generally, most large commercial flights such as Allegiant and Alaska fly over the water rather than the island.
Scheduled flights currently begin around 7:30 AM (San Juan Airlines); planes sometimes fly over LI two at a time or in short sequence, at times until 11 PM or later. Through informal observations, most fly roughly within 1100 and 2200 feet above sea level, with occasional flights at 800 feet or lower.
In July 2021, 40 island residents petitioned for a Lummi Island seat on the Bellingham Airport Advisory Committee (BIAAC), which has 24 seats and advises the Port of Bellingham on airport issues. This request was denied by BIAAC, the BLI airport director, and our Port commissioner Bobby Briscoe.
Lummi Island is not within BLI’s technical Area of Influence or within its controlled airspace (five miles). The BLI noise abatement policy primarily addresses the Cliffside neighborhood that is immediately adjacent to the airport. Notably, the Port of Orcas noise abatement policy instructs pilots – when safety and weather conditions allow – to fly a minimum of 1500 feet over the San Juan Islands and neighboring islands and shorelines.
Islanders absolutely support and rely on emergency rescue and medical services that aid and assist the island, generally by helicopter. As well, the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, and other agency aircraft regularly fly over and around the island, as do geological, marine, and other organizations that conduct surveys or provide other services. The work of this committee should only enhance these services through better understanding of their needs and unique challenges of assisting the LI community.
A community organization can yield more influence than individuals in trying to address concerns and to coordinate with other regional communities. Perhaps most importantly, a group such as LICA can develop and use consistent, realistic, positive, and constructive messages, such as “when weather and safety conditions allow, please consider varying routes over the island and flying at higher altitudes.”
The pending arrival of electric aviation presents an opportunity for regional airports to participate in the development and rollout of this quieter and more environmentally friendly technology. This is an important time for citizens and smaller communities to join the conversation regarding any changes to FAA rules and pilot practices that impact privacy and safety concerns.
Bellingham Airport Tweets
Reference Documents & Links
- Generally, FAA regulations require that aircraft must be a minimum of 500 feet over water and open spaces, and a minimum of 1000 feet above buildings in congested areas (see FAA Guide to Low Flying Aircraft. The FAA thus far has not specifically identified the island as open or congested space. The island does provide a visual reference point for pilots.
- To identify aircraft ownership, go to FAA registry (must have tail number)
- To report valid safety concerns to the FAA (noise not included), go to the Flight Standards District Office, or FSDO
- Flight tracking apps include Flightradar24.com; globe ADS-B Exchange.com; SkyGlass (aviarlabs.com)
- Port of Bellingham
- See June 21, 2022, POB Commissioners meeting, including BLI presentation regarding noise (begin at 10 minutes).
- As a follow-up regarding Avgas discussion, see FAA site regarding fuel
- Bellingham International Airport Advisory Committee (BIAAC) Next meeting, July 14, 2022
- BLI Noise Abatement Policy
- Port of Orcas Noise Abatement Policy
- San Juan Airlines / Second Wind Aviation / Jason Douglass – pilot training, tours, charters, scheduled flights, etc.
- Island Air / Cannery Leasing – charters, medical, etc.
- Bellingham Aviation Services
- Electric Aviation: A good review is on PBS, NOVA segment, “Great Electric Airplane Race” Season 48, Episode 7.
- Background documents and sample letters
Updated: 2022/11/15 @ 1:37 pm Catherine Shornick