Retired pilot Josh Crabtree of Port Angeles sits in a Dash Air Shuttle Cessna 402c that he helped fly from the East Coast in June. The plane would be used for passenger flights from Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles to Sea-Tac International Airport. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Retired pilot Josh Crabtree of Port Angeles sits in a Dash Air Shuttle Cessna 402c that he helped fly from the East Coast in June. The plane would be used for passenger flights from Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles to Sea-Tac International Airport. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Dash Air flights pushed to late September

Passenger service’s new target will be after Labor Day

PORT ANGELES — Dash Air Shuttle Inc. service from Port Angeles to Sea-Tac International Airport will be delayed until past Labor Day.

But flights from William R. Fairchild International Airport could begin by this fall and hopefully by Sept. 30, company President Clint Ostler said Monday.

He said flight-hungry North Olympic Peninsula passengers can look to the Federal Aviation Administration for the cause.

The agency is still mulling the startup company’s flight certificate conformity application and reviewing maintenance and operation procedures.

“They apparently have a backlog of projects,” Ostler said. “We are just waiting in line.”

Dash recently purchased three twin-engine, nine-passenger Cessna 402cs that are being stored on Fairchild’s tarmac, waiting to take flight since their arrival June 30.

Ostler had hoped when the aircraft landed that federal approval would be issued by July 15, leaving 45 days for passengers to make reservations and service to begin by the end of August.

The Cessnas will be operated by Oregon-based Backcountry Aviation, which does business as Infinite Air Charter and is not connected with Backcountry Aviation of Boulder, Colo. Ostler said Dash will not be marketing itself as a charter company.

Backcountry’s flight certificate is being modified to add the Cessna 402cs, which are about 40 years old.

“It’s all about the actual can we prove that we know how to operate them,” Ostler said.

“Everything we submitted is about maintaining and operating the aircraft.

“They have to review all the paperwork, and they have to determine if they are going to come and inspect the airplanes or not,” he said.

“We are literally waiting for direction from the FAA based on all the stuff we submitted.

“They are not giving any details.”

A phone call Monday to the FAA’s Flight Standards District Office in Hillsboro, Ore., where agency officials are reviewing the application, was not returned. An email to the FAA’s media office in Washington, D.C., was not immediately returned.

“The purpose of an aircraft conformity inspection is to verify that your aircraft conforms to its type design and is configured/bridged to your approved program and operations,” the FAA said on its website, www.faa.gov.

Up to five Dash Air flights would begin daily at 6 a.m. from Port Angeles except Sunday and leave at 10:30 p.m. daily from Sea-Tac, except Saturday.

“My goal is to fill up 45 seats a day going to and from Port Angeles,” Ostler said.

Ostler said he is still determining the weight limit per passenger for the aircraft, which have seats 17 inches across.

“I’m not quite sure on a height limit,” he said.

“If you can get into a sedan, if you can get into a car, you can probably get into an airplane.”

Passengers will be limited to one piece of luggage and a carry-on bag.

“We are still working through a lot of those details,” Ostler said.

“Right now, we are so focused on operating that we haven’t moved on to policies and procedures.”

Dash has winnowed down its application list to two finalists for five pilot positions who will receive a base salary of $60,000 a year.

“We’re still picking up resumes, and hopefully we’ll be doing some interviews this week,” Ostler said.

Passengers would land at the Signature Flight support services terminal at Sea-Tac, be shuttled to the main terminal, then go through check-in and Transportation Security Administration processing.

For the return trip, a Dash Air Shuttle kiosk will be set up on Sea-Tac’s baggage-claim level for the shuttle to Signature and the flight back to Fairchild.

Kenmore Air Express, the last commercial passenger airline to operate out of Fairchild, operated single-engine aircraft to nearby Boeing Field and shuttled passengers to Sea-Tac until it shut down service in November 2014 due to low profits and ridership.

Ostler said word of the FAA delay last week was not welcome news.

“I think we were all bummed,” he said. “We all want to get started, and at the same time, we want to make sure we are doing things right and following all the regulations correctly and making sure all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed, if you will.

“It’s like waiting for Christmas Day, but Christmas Eve doesn’t end.”

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

Clint Ostler.

Clint Ostler.

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