McGhee Tyson Airport

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McGhee Tyson Airport
McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base
McGhee Tyson Logo.png
Airport type Public
Owner Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority
Serves Knoxville, Tennessee
Location Alcoa, Tennessee
Opened 1927
Elevation AMSL 981 ft / 299 m
Coordinates 35°48′40″N 083°59′38″W / 35.81111°N 83.99389°W / 35.81111; -83.99389Coordinates: 35°48′40″N 083°59′38″W / 35.81111°N 83.99389°W / 35.81111; -83.99389
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 (IATA: TYS[3]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.


In 1927 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. 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[edit]

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[edit]

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) for the general aviation facility is TAC Air (formerly Knoxair and Cherokee Aviation).

In the year ending March 31, 2012 the airport had 101,779 aircraft operations, average 278 per day: 40% general aviation, 31% air taxi, 20% military, and 9% scheduled commercial. 167 aircraft were then based at this airport: 35% single-engine, 25% multi-engine, 21% military, 18% jet, and 1% helicopter.[1]

Airport terminal[edit]

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, and airline offices. There are 12 gates.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Scheduled passenger service:

Airlines Destinations
Allegiant Air Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Orlando-Sanford, St. Petersburg/Clearwater (FL)
AmericanConnection Chicago-O'Hare (ends June 10, 2014)
American Eagle Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York-LaGuardia
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit, New York-LaGuardia
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Frontier Airlines Seasonal: Chicago–Midway (begins June 15, 2014),[17] Denver
United Express Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Washington-Dulles
US Airways Express Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington-National


Carrier shares for October 2012 – September 2013[18]
Carrier   Passengers (arriving and departing)
American Eagle
Top domestic destinations (October 2012 – September 2013)[18]
Rank City Airport Passengers
1 Atlanta, GA Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) 185,170
2 Charlotte, NC Charlotte/Douglas International (CLT) 114,750
3 Chicago, IL O'Hare International (ORD) 99,260
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) 53,000
5 Detroit, MI Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW) 44,200
6 Houston, TX George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) 39,610
7 Denver, CO Denver International Airport (DEN) 39,000
8 Washington, D.C. / Virginia Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) 30,730
9 Sanford, FL Orlando-Sanford International (SFB) 30,070
10 Washington, D.C. / Virginia Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) 29,160

Cargo airlines[edit]


  • 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.[19]


  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" (PDF). December 2010. 
  3. ^ "IATA Airport Code Search (TYS: Knoxville / McGhee Tyson)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  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" (PDF, 2.03 MB). National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010. 
  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, TN
  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. ^;_ylt=AwrBEiSQngtTyVYAku7QtDMD
  18. ^ a b "Knoxville, TN: McGhee Tyson (TYS)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. September 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Knoxville-McGhee Tyson Airport". Aviation Safety Network. 

External links[edit]