By Scott Hamilton
While Bainbridge Island grapples with increased airliner and corporate jet noise associated with the landing or takeoff patterns for Sea-Tac Airport and Paine and Boeing Fields, a new threat may be on the horizon.
The Puget Sound Business Journal reported Feb. 12 that Amazon plans a big distribution center at Bremerton National Airport.
The center will cover 31 acres and generate nearly 1,000 vehicle trips each weekday. It will serve Kitsap County.
The big question: how will the packages get to Bremerton?
The logical answer is by air. Amazon declined comment whether its airline, Prime Air, will fly Boeing 737-800 freighters into and out of Bremerton Airport.
Runway can handle 737s, 757s
The airport lies parallel to SR 3 between Bremerton and Belfair. It has one active runway, 02/20, which is 6,000 ft long. The sole Instrument Landing System is aligned with runway 20 (Southeast).
The 150 ft wide runway is stressed to handle aircraft up to 336,000 lbs—basically up to a Boeing 767-200 (the lighter weight, smaller version of the Boeing 767-300ER and -300ERF freighter). There are very few 767-200s in service today. However, the Boeing 757 qualifies and the 757 commonly flies over Bainbridge on the approach to Boeing Field. UPS operates the 757; Amazon operates the Boeing 737-800F and Boeing 767-300ERF.
A Boeing 737-700C (Combi) has used Bremerton one time in the last two years, an airport official says.
Bremerton Airport is principally a general aviation airport serving single-engine private aircraft. There are 172 such aircraft based there.
The 6,000 ft runway limits the maximum take-off weight aircraft like the 737-800F and 757-200F could have, based on the distance planned. But for Amazon operations, range probably isn’t much of an issue.
Sea-Tac and Paine Field publish images of aircraft patterns. These images show the patterns over Bainbridge Island. Bremerton does not publish a similar image.
As a general aviation airport, patterns to the one runway generally are close to the airport.
BC checked a half-dozen small airplane flights on FlightRadar24 and found these landing patterns generally followed over water approaches west and south of Bainbridge and over land on the Bremerton side.
A straight line from runway goes over the central and north end of Bainbridge.
Landings to the south at Sea-Tac generally turn into the pattern around Shoreline, a distance of about 20 miles. An alternate approach is a sharp turn over Elliott Bay into the approach pattern. This is a distance of 10 miles. The straight-line distance from the runway threshold to Bainbridge Island is about 13 miles, intersecting the island about half-way along Port Orchard Passage and exiting on the eastern shore at the north end.
But approach or take-off patterns will not be that simple.
Approaches to Sea-Tac for southbound landings fly northbound along the waters between BI and Seattle between 4,500-5,000 ft. Approaches to Boeing Field for southbound landings fly over the island as low as 2,500 ft. Approaches to Paine Field fly over the island or the waters west of the island (Port Orchard pass) at about 4,500 ft.
All traffic to Bremerton will have to navigate to avoid these conflicts. How 737-800 jet traffic will be routed will be an air traffic control issue. This assumes, of course, that Amazon elects to fly its goods into Bremerton rather than use semi-trucks.
It’s too early for BI residents to be alarmed. But it’s not too soon to put a “watch” on developments at Bremerton Airport.