Northwest Airlines ticket counter in 2008.
McGhee Tyson Airport is a public and military airport 12 miles south of Knoxville, in Alcoa, Blount County, Tennessee, United States. It is named for United States Navy pilot Charles McGhee Tyson, lost on patrol in World War I.
Owned by the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, it is served by several major airlines and connection carriers. The airport employs about 2,700 people. It is a 30-minute drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This airport is in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which called it a primary commercial service airport since it has over 10,000 passenger boardings per year. Federal Aviation Administration records say the airport had 841,237 enplanements in 2011, an increase from 804,917 in 2010.
The airport is the home of McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, an air base for the 134th Air Refueling Wing (134 ARW) of the Tennessee Air National Guard.
On August 1, 1930, McGhee Tyson airport opened in honor of Charles McGhee Tyson. Originally the airport was on 60 acres in West Knoxville. In 1935 the city purchased 351 acres in Blount County for the current airport. On July 29, 1937, an American Airlines Stinson Trimotor, capable of carrying about 10 passengers, touched down at McGhee Tyson Airport, marking the first commercial flight at that facility. The city built an air traffic control tower in 1941, and two years later added two 5000ft runways.
The development of TYS helped the City of Alcoa diversify its economy and gain its economic independence from what is today Alcoa Inc., the world's third largest producer of aluminum. Alcoa Inc. built one of its production plants in Alcoa because of the proximity of dams along the Little Tennessee River which were a hydroelectric energy source for the production of aluminum.
In 1951, the United States Air Force built several facilities on the field and a 7500ft runway. The Federal Aviation Administration added an Instrument Landing System to runways 5L and 23R in 1959. In 1961, with financing by the Tennessee Air National Guard, the runway reached the length of 9000ft. In 1968, McGhee Tyson built a new air cargo facility. Almost a decade after the new air cargo facility was built, one of the first major construction projects was completed with a new passenger terminal in 1974. Four years later the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority (MKAA) was established, and in 1985 the airport authority had the two parallel runways redesignated as 5L/23R and 5R/23L.
In 1990 runway 5R/23L was reconstructed to its current length of 9,000 feet. The airport authority built a new air cargo facility in 1992. The Air Cargo Complex provided a 21-acre facility for Federal Express, UPS and Airborne Express. Buildings were designed to meet the carriers' needs. 90 percent of the total air cargo operations at the airport are operated by UPS and Federal Express. Cost of the project was estimated at $9.3 million. The new air cargo facility is on the north side of the airport.
In 2000, improvements to the passenger terminal were finished at a cost of $70 million. The improvements included two new concourses, 12 new gates, ticket counters, and a Ruby Tuesday restaurant. Currently, 11 gates are in use, with gate 6 being the only one not in service. In 2002, an aircraft maintenance facility was built for Northwest Airlines, serving as their primary CRJ MRO facility. ExpressJet Airlines has also built a heavy maintenance hangar near the air cargo facilities for its fleet. In June 2009, a new food court was completed, featuring Starbucks, Quiznos, Cinnabon, and Zia locations. The Zia location was replaced in April 2013 with an Uno Express Pizza.
In November 2016, the agency that operates McGhee Tyson received a $27.9 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to complete the next phase of a multi-year runway expansion that is the most expensive project the airport ever has undertaken. The north runway, 5L/23R, is being lengthened to 10,000 feet. During the work, 3,000 feet of that runway were demolished, while 6,000 feet remained open for small general-aviation planes. Large commercial flights still land on Runway 5R/23L, which will remain 9,000 feet long when work is done.
McGhee Tyson Airport covers 2,250 acres at an elevation of 979 feet (298 m) above mean sea level. It has two parallel runways: 5L/23R is a concrete runway measuring 6,005 by 150 feet (1,830 x 46 m) and being lengthened to 10000ft as of 2017, while 5R/23L is an asphalt runway measuring 9,000 by 150 feet (2,743 x 46 m).
The fixed-base operator (FBO) at TYS is the Truman-Arnold Company (TAC Air). TAC Air first moved into TYS on April 1, 2005, when it purchased Knox-Air, which had operated in TYS since 1974. Then a month later, on May 5, 2005, TAC Air purchased the only remaining FBO, Cherokee Aviation, which had been in operation since 1954. TAC Air combined these two FBOs under their own name, and they have continued to be the sole supplier of aviation fuel for commercial, corporate and general aviation aircraft as well as leased hangar space at the airport ever since.
In 2013, the airport had 100,914 aircraft operations, averaging 276 per day: 28,246 general aviation, 34,382 air taxi, 14,839 military, and 8,939 scheduled commercial. As of 2013, there were 167 aircraft based at the airport: 58 were single-engine, 42 were multi-engine, 35 were military, 30 were jet and there were 2 helicopters.
TYS is home to a maintenance base for Endeavor Air.
McGhee Tyson Airport has two levels. The top level is accessed via the curbside drop off and the parking garage. The top level has ticket counters, security, gates, restaurants and shops. It is designed with a Smoky Mountain theme, complete with faux waterfalls and wood carvings of bears. The bottom level is used for car rental counters, two baggage claims, airline offices, and airport offices.
There are 12 gates.
Airport Passengers Airline
1 Atlanta Hartsfield–Jackson International 219,150 Delta
2 Charlotte/Douglas International (CLT) 116,970 American
3 Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) 86,220 American, United
4 Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) 71,560 American
5 Newark Liberty International (EWR) 60,080 Allegiant, United
6 Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) 53,850 Delta
7 Orlando–Sanford International (SFB) 46,840 Allegiant
8 Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) 38,050 United
9 St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) 34,120 Allegiant
10 Denver International Airport (DEN) 31,200 Frontier, United
Year Passenger volume Change over previous year Aircraft operations Cargo 2005 1,793,000 91,000,000
2006 1,609,000 10.3% 93,000,000
2007 1,759,000 9.32% 99,000,000
2008 1,742,943 0.91% 121,680 97,366,366
2009 1,680,442 3.59% 104,273 82,304,377
2010 1,689,945 0.57% 107,010 93,393,658
2011 1,774,252 4.99% 107,757 92,390,849
2012 1,747,145 1.53% 105,805 91,529,442
2013 1,676,374 4.05% 100,914 84,029,942
2014 1,738,133 3.68% 100,421 74,115,672
2015 1,774,081 2.07% 118,921 77,331,422
2016 1,827,989 4.61% 96,214 84,831,987
2017 1,988,391 8.77% 105,605 80,717,837
Statistics from 2005-2007
Statistics from 2008-2017
Accidents and incidents
- On August 6, 1962, an American Airlines Lockheed L-188 Electra veered off the runway on landing, striking the raised edge of an under-construction taxiway with the landing gear, causing it to collapse. All 72 passengers and crew survived.
- On March 12, 1992, a USAir Express Jetstream 31 crashed on landing after the pilot failed to lower the landing gear. There were no passengers aboard, however the 2 crew members were killed.