SEATTLE — Sea-Tac Airport remains one of the fastest growing airports in the nation. The Port of Seattle has multiple major construction projects underway at Sea-Tac, including new gates and a new international arrivals terminal, to try and catch up with demand.

Meanwhile, our frustration with traffic has made the opening of a new two gate terminal at Paine Field in Everett a reality.

But what about a new scheduled jet service in Kitsap County, Tacoma, or Olympia? What about a cargo facility, or more room to build airplane parts for the region's aerospace manufacturing base? 

The answer to those specific questions may be years away, but a study to figure out the basics of what's needed is currently underway.

It's called the Regional Aviation Baseline Study and it's being administered by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PRSC), with matching funds from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"When the region's population between now and 2050 grows by 40 percent, what is the range of passenger air service we should prepare for?" asked Josh Brown, PRSC executive director.

In other words, that’s another 1.8 million people to accommodate over the next 30 years. 

The PRSC is a planning organization and includes county executives, tribal leaders, and transportation officials from King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap counties.

Teams are already visiting 29 large and small airports around the region. The bullet points being looked at are the feasibility of the airports to accommodate demand and the scenarios for future growth. This will all culminate in a final report due in the fall of 2020.

But work on the future of air travel doesn't end with the study.

The Washington state Legislature is considering a Statewide Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission, which the Port of Seattle endorsed last week saying on its website, "The Port supports a regional conversation about how our state will meet those long-term needs, including the study of a second regional airport site."