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, U.S.
Opened 1930
Elevation AMSL 979 ft / 298 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 / United States
TYS is located in the US
TYS (the US)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
5L/23R 6,005 1,830 Concrete
5R/23L 9,000 2,743 Asphalt
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations 101,779
Based aircraft 167
Passengers (2017) 1,988,391
Sources: FAA,[1] Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority[2]
Northwest Airlines ticket counter in 2008.
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 is served by several major airlines and connection carriers. The airport employs about 2,700 people.[5] It is a 30-minute drive 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.


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 dams along the Little Tennessee 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 5L and 23R 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 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 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, 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]

In November 2016, the agency that operates McGhee Tyson has 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.[15] 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 can land on Runway 5R/23L, which will remain 9,000 feet long when work is done. Work is split into at least three phases, or projects. Project 1 will finish around the start of March 2017, after 18 months of work. The $25 million project will end with construction of a connector taxiway. Project 2, expected to cost $28 million for design, construction and relocation of a gas pipeline. Project 2 also includes removing the rest of 5L/23R's concrete and extending its runway safety area on one end. It also involves work on a detention pond, relocating and upgrading storm drains. Much of the work is shut down during winter, but will restart in earnest in March 2018 and will continue through the summer. At the end of summer, the contract for Project 3 will be awarded. That will pave as much new runway as possible; a future Project 4 will finish any paving, and install necessary lights.[16]


McGhee Tyson Airport covers 2,250 acres (911 ha) at an elevation of 981 feet (299 m) above mean sea level. It has two parallel runways: 5L/23R is a concrete runway measuring 9,000 by 150 feet (2,743 x 46 m) and being lengthened to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) as of 2017, while 5R/23L is an asphalt runway measuring 9,000 by 150 feet (2,743 x 46 m).[1][17]

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]


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.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Refs
Allegiant Air Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda (FL), St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Baltimore, Fort Walton Beach, Newark
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Washington–National [19]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [20]
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit, New York–La Guardia, Minneapolis/St. Paul [20]
Frontier Airlines Seasonal: Denver, Orlando [21]
United Airlines Newark [22]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles [22]


Airlines Destinations
Ameriflight Louisville
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis, Norfolk, Richmond
UPS Airlines Louisville


Carrier statistics[edit]

Carrier shares for (May 2016 - April 2017)[23]
Carrier   Passengers (arriving and departing)

Destination traffic[edit]

Top domestic destinations (October 2016 - September 2017)[23]
Rank Airport Passengers Airline
1 Atlanta Hartsfield–Jackson International (ATL) 222,880 Delta
2 Charlotte/Douglas International (CLT) 114,860 American
3 Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) 84,780 American, United
4 Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) 69,990 American
5 Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW) 53,960 Delta
6 Newark Liberty International (EWR) 47,400 United
7 Orlando–Sanford International (SFB) 41,050 Allegiant
8 Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) 38,710 United
9 Denver International Airport (DEN) 36,710 Frontier, United
10 St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) 32,470 Allegiant

Annual traffic[edit]

Traffic by calendar year
Year Passenger volume Change over previous year Aircraft operations Cargo (lbs)
2005 1,793,000 91,000,000
2006 1,609,000 Decrease010.3% 93,000,000
2007 1,759,000 Increase09.32% 99,000,000
2008 1,742,943 Decrease00.91% 121,680 97,366,366
2009 1,680,442 Decrease03.59% 104,273 82,304,377
2010 1,689,945 Increase00.57% 107,010 93,393,658
2011 1,774,252 Increase04.99% 107,757 92,390,849
2012 1,747,145 Decrease01.53% 105,805 91,529,442
2013 1,676,374 Decrease04.05% 100,914 84,029,942
2014 1,738,133 Increase03.68% 100,421 74,115,672
2015 1,774,081 Increase02.07% 118,921 77,331,422
2016 1,827,989 Increase04.61% 96,214 84,831,987
2017 1,988,391 Increase08.77% 105,605 80,717,837

Statistics from 2005-2007[23]

Statistics from 2008-2017[24]

Accidents and incidents[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.[25]


  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. Archived from the original on 2012-12-15. 
  6. ^ City of Alcoa, official website
  7. ^ "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF). National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF, 2.03 MB) on September 27, 2012.  External link in |work= (help)
  8. ^ "Enplanements for CY 2011" (PDF, 1.7 MB). CY 2011 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 9, 2012.  External link in |work= (help)
  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. ^ "McGhee Tyson Airport lands $27.9 million federal grant". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-10-02. 
  16. ^ "Longer runway aims for longer reach". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-10-02. 
  17. ^ Gaines, Jim (January 1, 2017). "Longer runway aims for longer reach". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved December 18, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Allegiant Air". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  19. ^ "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  20. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  21. ^ ["" "Frontier"] Check |url= value (help). 
  22. ^ a b "Timetable". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  23. ^ a b c "Knoxville, TN: McGhee Tyson (TYS)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. April 2017. Retrieved July 28, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Airport Statistics". McGhee Tyson Airport. Retrieved August 2017.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  25. ^ "Knoxville-McGhee Tyson Airport". Aviation Safety Network. 

External links[edit]