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McGhee Tyson Airport

McGhee Tyson Airport
McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base
Airport type Public
Owner Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority
Serves Knoxville, Tennessee
Location Alcoa, Tennessee
Opened 1927
Elevation AMSL 981 ft / 299 m
TYS is located in Tennessee
Location of airport in Tennessee
Direction Length Surface
ft m
5L/23R 9,005 2,745 Concrete
5R/23L 9,000 2,743 Asphalt
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations 101,779
Based aircraft 167
Passengers (2011) 1,688,882
Sources: FAA,[1] Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority[2]
Northwest Airlines ticket counter.
AirTran at McGhee Tyson Airport

McGhee Tyson Airport (ICAO: KTYSFAA LID: TYS) is a public and military airport 12 miles south of Knoxville,[1] 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.[4]

Owned by the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority,[1] it sees several major airlines and connection carriers. The airport employs about 2,700 people.[5] It is a 30-minute commute to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.[6]

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 (enplanements) per year.[7] Federal Aviation Administration records say the airport had 841,237 enplanements in 2011, an increase from 804,917 in 2010.[8]

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.


  • History 1
  • Air National Guard Base 2
  • Facilities and aircraft 3
  • Airport terminal 4
  • Airport Governance and Management 5
  • Airlines and destinations 6
    • Statistics 6.1
  • Cargo airlines 7
  • Incidents 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


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. In 1941 the city built an air traffic control tower and two years later added two 5,000-foot (1,500 m) 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.[9] Alcoa Inc. built one of its production plants in Alcoa due to the proximity of tributaries of the Little River which were a hydroelectric energy source for the production of aluminum [9]

In 1951 the United States Air Force built several facilities on the field and a 7,500-foot (2,300 m) runway. The Federal aviation administration (FAA) added an Instrument Landing System to runways 4L and 22R in 1959. In 1961, with financing by the Tennessee Air National Guard, the runway reached its current length of 9,000 feet (2,700 m). 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 the airport authority had the two parallel runways redesigned to become 5R and 23L and 5L and 23R in 1985.

In 1990 runway 5R and 23L was reconstructed to its current a 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 the last major project, improvements to the passenger terminal, was finished at a cost of $70 million. The improvements, designed by HNTB,[10] 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.[11] In 2002, an aircraft maintenance facility was built for Northwest Airlines, serving as their primary CRJ MRO facility.[12] 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.[13] The Zia location was replaced in April 2013 with an Uno Express Pizza.[14]

Air National Guard Base

The 134 ARW, which is operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC), operates KC-135R Stratotankers for both air mobility and aerial refueling of military aircraft. McGhee Tyson ANGB is also home to the I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center and the former home of the Air National Guard's Academy of Military Science (AMS). Similar to U.S. Air Force (USAF) Officer Training School (OTS), AMS is an alternate commissioning source for USAF officers who are directly inputted into various units of the Air National Guard throughout the United States.[15][16]

Facilities and aircraft

McGhee Tyson Airport covers 2,250 acres (911 ha) at an elevation of 981 feet (299 m) above mean sea level. It has two runways: 5L/23R is 9,005 by 150 feet (2,745 x 46 m) concrete and 5R/23L is 9,000 by 150 feet (2,743 x 46 m) asphalt.[1]

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 has 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.

For the year of 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 this airport: 58 were single-engine, 42 were multi-engine, 35 were military, 30 were jet and there were 2 helicopters.[1]

Airport terminal

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 and airport offices. There are 12 gates.

Airport Governance and Management

The MKAA, which has been in place since 1978, is a component unit of the City of Knoxville and is governed by a nine-member board of commissioners. The each commissioner on the board is appointed for seven years by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. The MKAA also operates the Downtown Island Airport, a 150-acre general aviation facility less than three miles from downtown Knoxville. It is home to more than 100 private and corporate aircraft. There is no commercial service out of Downtown Island Airport. The board of commissioners chooses the airport’s president, who is the chief administrative and executive officer of the Authority. The position is currently held by Mr. Bill Marrison. Mr. Marrison has been the airport’s President since 2001, and is an Accredited Airport Executive of the American Association of Airport Executives. The President manages the airports under the Authority’s control with a staff of 147 full-time equivalent employees.

Airlines and destinations

Scheduled passenger service:

Airlines Destinations
Allegiant Air Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Orlando/Sanford, St. Petersburg/Clearwater
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Washington-National
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit, New York-LaGuardia
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Frontier Airlines Seasonal: Denver
Southern Airways Express Chattanooga, Memphis
United Express Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Washington-Dulles


Carrier shares for (Jan 2014 - Dec 2014)[17]
Carrier   Passengers (arriving and departing)
Top domestic destinations (Jan 2014 - Dec 2014)[17]
Rank Airport Passengers Airline
1 Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL) 200,000 Delta
2 Charlotte/Douglas International (CLT) 121,000 US Airways
3 Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) 91,000 American, United
4 Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) 67,000 American
5 Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW) 43,000 Delta
6 Orlando-Sanford International (SFB) 42,000 Allegiant
7 Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) 36,000 United
8 Denver International Airport (DEN) 34,000 Frontier, United
9 Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) 31,000 United
10 St. Petersburg/Clearwater (PIE) 28,000 Allegiant

Cargo airlines


  • 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.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e FAA Airport Master Record for TYS (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective November 15, 2012.
  2. ^ "McGhee Tyson Airport, December 2010" ( 
  3. ^ "IATA Airport Code Search (TYS: Knoxville / McGhee Tyson)".  
  4. ^ "History of the Airport". McGhee Tyson Airport. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. 
  5. ^ "About McGhee Tyson Airport". Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. 
  6. ^ City of Alcoa, official website
  7. ^ "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" ( 
  8. ^ "Enplanements for CY 2011" (PDF, 1.7 MB). CY 2011 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 9, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b City of Alcoa. "Welcome to the City of Alcoa / City of Alcoa - City of Alcoa". 
  10. ^ "McGhee Tyson Airport Renovation". 
  11. ^ "Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport". Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Investor Relations - Corporate Profile". Pinnacle Airlines Corp. 
  13. ^ Marcum, Ed (June 6, 2009). "Airport's food court opens". Knoxville News Sentinel. 
  14. ^ "Uno Express Pizza Opens". April 12, 2013. 
  15. ^ Pike, John. "McGhee-Tyson ANGB". 
  16. ^ "McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base". Archived from the original on February 5, 2007. 
  17. ^ a b "Knoxville, TN: McGhee Tyson (TYS)".  
  18. ^ "Knoxville-McGhee Tyson Airport". Aviation Safety Network. 

External links

  • Official website
  • 134th Air Refueling Wing
  • FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective June 23, 2016
  • FAA Terminal Procedures for TYS, effective June 23, 2016
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KTYS
    • ASN accident history for TYS
    • FlightAware airport information and live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KTYS
    • FAA current TYS delay information
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