Seattle-Tacoma Airport to save millions in fuel costs, with help of FAA grant

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will receive the largest grant of its kind - $18.3 million - from the Federal Aviation Administration for a project expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save millions of dollars in fuel costs for airlines. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt awarded the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions Grant to fund construction of a pre-conditioned air project that will make Sea-Tac one of the nation's few airports with a centralized system that covers the entire airport.

  • Thursday, October 28, 2010 6:30pm
  • News

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will receive the largest grant of its kind – $18.3 million – from the Federal Aviation Administration for a project expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save millions of dollars in fuel costs for airlines. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt awarded the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions Grant to fund construction of a pre-conditioned air project that will make Sea-Tac one of the nation’s few airports with a centralized system that covers the entire airport.

Once installed, the project is expected to reduce emissions by more than 50,000 metric tons of CO2, save airlines up to 5 million gallons of fuel and $10 million in fuel costs per year. The CO2 savings are the equivalent of taking 8,700 cars off the road. The project is expected to create 120 jobs.

“This program is helping airports around the country make needed technological investments so they can be more environmentally friendly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The project will allow aircraft to hookup to pre-conditioned air provided by the airport at each gate. This allows planes to shutdown their auxiliary power units, which emit CO2 gases and other emissions, and cost the airlines fuel to operate. The cooled or heated air would be piped into the aircraft from a central utility plant at the airport. An estimated ten miles of piping will be used to complete the project.

“The Port of Seattle has made environmental leadership a priority; we are committed to reducing Sea-Tac Airport’s carbon footprint and this grant will help us do that,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Gael Tarleton.

The entire project is estimated to cost just over $33 million. The $18.3 million grant funding will cover the first phase of the project which will include 53 of Sea-Tac’s 81 gates. Construction is expected to begin in October and be completed by the end of 2011 for phase one. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012.

The largest previous grant award from the VALE program was for $10.3 million to Philadelphia in 2009.

The remaining cost will be paid through Airport Development Funds which come directly from fees charged to airlines. These fees will be more than offset by decreased airline operating costs estimated to be as much as $10 million per year for airlines at Sea-Tac.

“The size of this project is unusual for an airport in a temperate climate like ours, but we’ve shown this can make a tremendous impact on our environmental footprint, one of our key goals,” said Mark Reis, Sea-Tac Airport Managing Director. “The positive effects also include reduced noise from aircraft while they are parked at the gates.”

The FAA is encouraging airlines and airports to find creative ways to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment,” said Administrator Babbitt. “NextGen technology will also help aviation go even greener by significantly reducing the amount of fuel burned during air travel.”

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