Coleman A. Young International Airport

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Coleman A. Young International Airport
Detroit City Airport 2005 (cropped).jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity of Detroit
ServesDetroit, Michigan
Elevation AMSL626 ft / 191 m
Coordinates42°24′33″N 083°00′36″W / 42.40917°N 83.01000°W / 42.40917; -83.01000
DET is located in Michigan
Location in Michigan
DET is located in the United States
DET (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
15/33 5,090 1,551 Asphalt
7/25 4,025 1,227 Asphalt
Statistics (2007)
Aircraft operations77,571
Based aircraft97
Sources: Airport[1] and FAA[2]

Coleman A. Young International Airport[1] (IATA: DET, ICAO: KDET, FAA LID: DET) (Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport.[2] formerly Detroit City Airport until 2003) is six miles northeast of downtown Detroit, in Wayne County, Michigan. It is owned by the City of Detroit.[2] The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021 categorized it as a regional general aviation facility.[3] In 2003, it was given its current name in honor of the late former mayor of Detroit.[4]

From July 1988 through September 1993, Southwest Airlines served the airport with 10 to 13 daily flights.[5][6] Pro Air also operated Boeing 737s from the airfield. Chautauqua Airlines served the airport but ceased service less than a year later.[7] Spirit Airlines planned to fly McDonnell-Douglas DC-9s to DET in 1995, but never began service.[8] Pro Air, a scheduled passenger airline, was based at the airport and grounded by the FAA due to poor maintenance performance.[9] The airport now has no scheduled passenger airline service.

The airport's passenger terminal also houses facilities for Customs and Border Protection, which serves private and cargo airplanes.

The 53,000-square-foot (4,900 m2) passenger terminal includes space for restaurants, retail concessions, car rental facilities, airline offices, baggage pick-up and claim areas, boarding areas and passenger lounges. The airport has three 1,000 space parking lots.

The city of Detroit says that the facility has staff and is operational. It is listed as an asset of the city, but its future plans are in doubt.[10][11][12][13][14]

Former airline service (1966-2000)[edit]

The following airlines served Detroit City Airport:[7]

DET was Detroit's primary airport until 1946-47 when almost all airline flights moved to Willow Run Airport and later to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The March 1939 Official Aviation Guide shows 13 weekday departures on American, 10 on Pennsylvania Central and one on Marquette.[15] The June 1946 OAG shows 100 weekday departures on Pennsylvania Central, American, United, Northwest, Eastern, TWA, C&S and Michigan Central.[16]


The airport covers 264 acres (107 ha) at an elevation of 626 feet (191 m). It has two asphalt runways: 15/33 is 5,090 by 100 feet (1,551 m × 30 m) and 7/25 is 4,025 by 100 feet (1,227 m × 30 m).[2]

In 2007 the airport had 77,571 aircraft operations, average 212 per day: 88% general aviation, 11% air taxi and 1% military. 97 aircraft were then based at the airport: 84% single-engine, 11% multi-engine, 4% jet and 1% ultralight.[2][17]

In 2017 the airport had 37,264 aircraft operations, average 102 per day: 35,041 (94%) general aviation, 1,875 (5%) air taxi and 348 military.[18]

Until around 1965 a gas tank 330 feet (100 m) tall was at 42°24′29″N 83°00′33″W / 42.40817°N 83.00926°W / 42.40817; -83.00926 NAD83, less than 630 feet (190 m) west of the centerline of runway 15/33. Since 1994, the city has been working on clearing a federally mandated safety buffer of at least 750 feet (230 m) from the airport's main runway by incrementally buying adjacent land.[11]

Fire protection is provided by the municipal Detroit Fire Department. Budget cuts in 2012 closed Engine Company 20, previously equipped with at least one aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle, leaving the airport fire station unstaffed.[19][20] In 2018, it was reported that plans were underway to staff the station for one 8-hour shift each day.[12] In 2020, a construction brief published by the city outlined the work necessary to rehabilitate the fire station building.[21]

The airport has a 1929 aircraft hangar that was designed by Architect Albert Kahn.[13]


In 1989 Mayor Coleman A. Young abandoned a plan to expand the airport's runway because the adjoining Gethsemane Cemetery blocked the way, and surviving relatives protested. A few years later Southwest Airlines ended operations there, citing the city's inability to keep its promises and the need for longer runways to allow for larger jets.[22][23][7] in 1988, complaints were registered because the city removed/discarded several families' memorial statuary without notification, replacing them with simple flat in-ground markers, stating that the statues posed a collision risk should an airplane go off the end of the runway.

The city closed the segment of East McNichols (6 Mile) Road between Conner Street and French Road at the north end of the airport and annexed the land to the airport, allowing for expansion of the approach to Runway 15 and additional service roads. Satellite photos still show some ruins of the original roadbed and a driveway to a motel and topless bar that occupied the south side of McNichols near Conner. A tunneling project could in the future restore the severed East McNichols Road connection and allow an additional 405 feet (123 m) of the main runway to be used for aviation.[14]

The City of Detroit listed the airport as an asset which could be sold to cover debts as a result of the city's 2013 bankruptcy filing. The future of the site as a functioning airport after any sale would have been uncertain.[24] Ultimately, no sale occurred.[11]

In light of a resurgence of the Detroit's finances in the 2010s, the city council with its airport task force started looking at options for investing into the facility's future. Contributing to the Airport Redevelopment and Modernization Program were consulting companies Avion Solutions[18] and Kimley-Horn, and included were officials of the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The airport is envisioned to serve general aviation, while parts of the land currently used by aviation facilities are to be redeveloped. The main runway 15/33 could be lengthened and the supporting structures modernized. There is a proposal to close and remove the shorter runway 7/25. This could limit the options to conduct training flights, relevant in light of plans to locate the Davis Technical Aerospace High School and other educational and commercial users on the airport grounds. Removing the runway could free up 86 acres for industrial development, abetted by its position close to Conrail's railway line. In return, the airport property could be expanded by 196 acres to the west.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Coleman A. Young International Airport Archived 2008-05-01 at the Wayback Machine at City of Detroit website
  2. ^ a b c d e FAA Airport Form 5010 for DET PDF, effective 2009-08-27.
  3. ^ "List of NPIAS Airports" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  4. ^ "City Airport". Encyclopedia of Detroit. Detroit Historical Society. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  5. ^ "Once Upon a Time in Detroit". Southwest Airlines-Flashback Fridays. July 9, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  6. ^ Moore, Natalie Y. (August 4, 2004). "Detroit struggles to lift City Airport off ground". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c McConnell, Darci; McWhirter, Cameron; Smith, Joel J. (March 20, 2002). "Mayor: Fix or shut Detroit City Airport: Kilpatrick wants $400 million for runway, terminal". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on May 9, 2014. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  8. ^ "Spirit Airlines to use jets at Detroit City Airport". Ludington Daily News. Associated Press. March 25, 1995.
  9. ^ Perotin, Maria (September 20, 2000). "Discount Carrier Pro Air Grounded". Orlando Sentinel.
  10. ^ "Airport, Coleman A. Young International". City of Detroit. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Ferretti, Christine (March 26, 2015). "City airport plan may finally lift off". The Detroit News. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Gallagher, John (April 14, 2018). "Old Detroit City Airport crumbles as city rejects offers of millions". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  13. ^ a b c Ferretti, Christine (October 3, 2019). "Detroit city airport plan would clear neighborhood, close runway". The Detroit News. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  14. ^ a b c Ferretti, Christine (August 4, 2020). "Detroit advances plan to close city airport runway, clear neighborhood". The Detroit News. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  15. ^ Official Aviation Guide. Chicago: Official Aviation Guide Company. 1939.
  16. ^ Official Guide of the Airways. Chicago: Official Aviation Guide Company. 1946.
  17. ^ Air Routing International
  18. ^ a b "DET Redevelopment and Modernization Program" (PDF). December 10, 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  19. ^ "Mi, Detroit Fire Department: Airport". Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  20. ^ "Engine 20". Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  21. ^ "Design/Build Services for CAYIA Fire Station". Construction Journal. January 13, 2020. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  22. ^ Wilkerson, Isabel (March 30, 1988). "Detroit Journal; Must Cemetery Yield to Airport?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Archived from the original on May 9, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  23. ^ "Detroit Will Spare Cemetery In an Airport Expansion Plan". The New York Times. Reuters. April 1, 1988. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 9, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  24. ^ Snell, Robert (August 30, 2014). "Detroit may sweeten bankruptcy deal with real estate to persuade creditor to settle". The Detroit News.

External links[edit]