House passes Link Air legislation to develop hybrid and electric aircraft

OLYMPIA – Last night, on an 88-10 vote, the Washington State House of Representatives passed the Link Air Act, which seeks to set goals for electric and hybrid-electric aircraft in Washington.

House Bill 1397, sponsored by Rep. Vandana Slatter, D – Bellevue, directs the Department of Transportation to reconvene the electric aircraft workgroup created in last year’s transportation budget to continue studying the electrically powered aircraft industry, to evaluate infrastructure needs, and track progress toward developing electric or hybrid-electric air travel in our state.

“Washington has always been an innovator in aviation. With this bill, the workgroup will get a deeper analysis and we will have a better sense of the future. This bill gives us the opportunity to be a center for the development of the next wave of air travel,” said Slatter.

Rep. Slatter pointed out that there is a need for more regional and affordable air travel options, as many small airports in Washington have seen a reduction in the number of available flights, and a few have lost commercial service entirely.

“The development of new electric aircraft technology has the potential to reinvigorate short and medium haul regional flights that have struggled in recent years,” said Slatter. “Electric aircraft can be part of a connected and linked future keeping Washington as a leader in aviation.”

If HB 1397 reaches the governor’s desk, the workgroup will submit its report and recommendations to the Legislature by November 2020.

“This cleaner, quieter technology can provide a renaissance for the short distance travel option, alleviating traffic congestion and getting us places faster. This efficiency measure will not only link, but also revive communities around the state by creating jobs and boosting the economy,” Slatter added.

The Link Air Act is now in the Senate for further consideration.