Northwest Alabama Regional Airport
|Northwest Alabama Regional Airport|
NAIP image, 2006
|IATA: MSL – ICAO: KMSL – FAA LID: MSL|
|Owner||Colbert & Lauderdale Counties|
|Serves||Muscle Shoals, Alabama|
|Elevation AMSL||551 ft / 168 m|
Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (IATA: MSL, ICAO: KMSL, FAA LID: MSL) is located 1 nautical mile (2 km) east of Muscle Shoals, in Colbert County, Alabama, United States. It is owned by the counties of Colbert and Lauderdale. The airport is used for general aviation and is served by one airline, subsidized by the Essential Air Service program at a cost of $2,603,365 (per-year).
The National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2015-2019 categorized it as a non-primary commercial service facility. As per the Federal Aviation Administration, it had 2,345 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2013, a decrease of 43.6% from 4,160 enplanements in 2012.
The airport opened in February 1940, but in 1942 it was taken over by the United States Army Air Forces as a World War II pilot training military airfield. It was assigned to the AAF Flying Training Command, Southeast Training Center (later Eastern Flying Training Command) as a basic (stage 2) pilot training airfield.
Instruction consisted of teaching the cadets to fly in formation, fly by instruments or by aerial navigation, fly at night, and fly for long distances. Aviation Cadets who washed out of pilot training were usually sent to navigator or bombardier school. The initial aircraft complement numbered 24 Vultee BT-13 Valiant and BT-15 aircraft. The ten-week course consisted of 70 hours of flight training and 150 hours of ground training.
Pilot training at the airfield apparently ended on May 30, 1944, with the drawdown of AAFTC's pilot training program. The airfield was returned to civil control at the end of the war.
Prior to summer 2009, Muscle Shoals was served from Northwest Airlines' hub in Memphis via Northwest Airlink turboprop service operated by Mesaba Airlines. After Northwest was acquired by Delta Airlines, service was transferred to Delta's larger hub in Atlanta. This has seen increased passenger numbers and less market leakage to nearby Huntsville Airport. Despite the increase in enplanements, on November 23, 2010, Delta announced that it would not re-apply for the Essential Air Service subsidy to provide service between Muscle Shoals and Memphis. The cited reason was the retirement of partner Mesaba's Saab 340 turboprop fleet. Under federal law, Delta Connection must continue service to Muscle Shoals until a replacement carrier is found. In 2011, Air Choice One, a Missouri-based carrier, submitted a proposal to the US DOT to serve Muscle Shoals with flights to either Atlanta, Nashville or Memphis. Pending acceptance of the proposal, the airline was planning to begin flights in as little as 30 days. This airline never commenced service to Muscle Shoals.
Eastern Airlines stopped at Muscle Shoals from 1947 to 1964. Southern Airways Douglas DC-9s flew nonstop to Atlanta and via Huntsville, and Southern Martin 4-0-4s flew to Memphis. Southern merged with North Central to form Republic, which continued at Muscle Shoals with DC-9-50s to Atlanta and with Convair 580s and Metroliners to Memphis. Republic was acquired by Northwest Airlines which ended jet flights to Atlanta but started Northwest Airlink service to Memphis with Jetstream 31s. Northwest Airlink replaced the Jetstreams with larger Saab 340s before all service ended.
Beginning in October 2012, Muscle Shoals was served by Silver Airways with two daily flights to Atlanta. Due to constant delays and cancellations, ridership declined to about 3 passengers per day under Silver, below EAS guidelines. Silver discontinued service to Muscle Shoals in October 2014. SeaPort Airlines announced it would take Silver's place in the Fall of 2014,SeaPort began daily flights to Nashville and Memphis on January 12, 2015.
Facilities and aircraft
For the 12 months ending November 30, 2012, the airport had 44,490 aircraft operations, an average 122 per day: 94.4% general aviation, 1.6% air carrier, 0.6% air taxi, and 3.4% military. There are 62 aircraft based at this airport: 61% single-engine, 23% multi-engine, 6% jet, and 10% helicopter.
Airlines and destinations
Scheduled passenger service is available via SeaPort Airlines which offers daily non-stop flights to Nashville. The airport was previously served by Silver Airways which offered non-stop flights to Atlanta.
|Carrier||Passengers (arriving and departing)|
|Rank||City||Airport name & IATA code||Passengers|
|1||Atlanta, GA||Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL)||1,370||2,010|
|2||Tupelo, MS||Tupelo Regional (TUP)||<10||<10|
|Year||2005 ||2006 ||2007 ||2008 ||2009 ||2010 ||2011 ||2012 ||2013 |
Accidents and incidents
- On April 4, 1977 Southern Airways Flight 242, a DC-9 on route to Atlanta International Airport, flew into a severe thunderstorm and lost thrust on both engines. The plane was forced to land on a road (Georgia State Route 381) in New Hope, Georgia, but collided with a gas station and exploded, killing 63 of the 85 people on board the aircraft as well as 9 people on the ground, making it the deadliest aviation disaster in Georgia history.
- FAA Airport Master Record for MSL ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective March 5, 2015.
- "IATA Airport Code Search (MSL: Muscle Shoals)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "Essential Air Service Reports". U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "2015-2019 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF, 7.89 MB). National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. September 30, 2014.
- "2013 Enplanements at All Airports (Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation) by State and Airport" (PDF, 1.05 MB). CY 2013 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. June 23, 2014.
- Patterson, Jerrita (November 23, 2010). "Delta Airlines Opts Out of Servicing the Muscle Shoals Airport". WHNT News 19.
- McLaughlin, Budd (October 14, 2011). "Missouri air carrier proposes serving Northwest Alabama Regional Airport". The Huntsville Times.
- Corey, Russ. "Regional airport pursues exit of airline". timesdaily.com. Times Daily. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- "Spring 2015 Timetable" (PDF). SeaPort Airlines. March 16, 2015.
- "Muscle Shoals, AL: Northwest Alabama Regional (MSL)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. December 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- "2005 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports with Enplanements (by State)" (PDF, 200 KB). CY 2005 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. Fall 2006.
- "2006 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports with Enplanements (by State)" (PDF, 250 KB). CY 2006 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. Fall 2007.
- "2007 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports with Enplanements (by State)" (PDF, 187 KB). CY 2007 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. September 26, 2008.
- "2008 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports with Enplanements (by State)" (PDF, 1.0 MB). CY 2008 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. December 18, 2009.
- "2009 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports (by State)" (PDF, 891 KB). CY 2009 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. November 23, 2010.
- "2010 Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports (by State)" (PDF, 189 KB). CY 2010 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2011.
- "2011 Enplanements at Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports (by State)" (PDF). CY 2011 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 9, 2012.
- "2012 Enplanements at All Airports (Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation) by State and Airport" (PDF). CY 2012 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 31, 2013.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
- Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
- Essential Air Service documents (Docket OST-2000-7856) from the U.S. Department of Transportation:
- 90-Day Notice (August 18, 2000): from Express Airlines I, Inc. d/b/a Northwest Airlink pursuant to Section 401 (j) (1) to terminate scheduled airline service being provided by the carrier at Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL).
- Order 2005-2-11 (February 22, 2005): re-selecting Mesaba Aviation, Inc. d/b/a Northwest Airlink, to provide subsidized essential air service for the two-year period beginning February 1, 2005, at an annual rate of $1,364,697.
- Order 2006-11-12 (November 20, 2006): selecting Mesaba Aviation, Inc., d/b/a Northwest Airlink, to provide essential air service at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, for a new two-year period beginning February 1, 2007, at a subsidy of $1,504,929 annually.
- Order 2008-10-17 (October 16, 2008): re-selecting Mesaba Airlines, Inc., d/b/a Northwest Airlink, to provide essential air service (EAS) at annual subsidy rate of $1,782,928 at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, through January 31, 2011.
- Order 2010-10-13 (October 19, 2010): requesting proposals from carriers interested in providing essential air service (EAS) at Muscle Shoals, for a new two-year period beginning February 1, 2011, with or without subsidy.
- Order 2011-3-26 (March 18, 2011): selecting Gulfstream International Airlines to provide essential air service (EAS) at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, for a two-year period beginning when it inaugurates full EAS, through the end of the 24th month thereafter for an annual subsidy of $2,553,283.
- Order 2011-6-22 (June 23, 2011): requesting proposals from carriers interested in providing essential air service (EAS) at Muscle Shoals, with or without subsidy. On June 1, Gulfstream notified the Department that it was withdrawing its offer to serve Muscle Shoals as a result of failed negotiations to obtain a code-share agreement with Delta Air Lines, Inc.
- Order 2011-11-33 (November 30, 2011): extending service obligation for Mesaba Aviation and Pinnacle Airlines, d/b/a Delta Connection
- Order 2012-5-17 (May 22, 2012): selecting Silver Airways, formerly Gulfstream International Airways, to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Greenville, Laurel/Hattiesburg, and Tupelo, Mississippi, and Greenbrier/White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (Lewisburg), using 34-passenger Saab 340 aircraft, for a combined annual subsidy of $16,098,538. Tupelo will receive 18 weekly round trips over a Greenville-Tupelo-Atlanta routing
- Order 2012-6-3 (June 6, 2012): extending the Essential Air Service obligation of the two wholly owned subsidiaries of Pinnacle Airlines Corporation—Mesaba Aviation, Inc. and Pinnacle Airlines, d/b/a Delta Connection at the eight communities listed below (Muscle Shoals, AL; Alpena, MI; Iron Mountain/Kingsford, MI; Brainerd, MN; International Falls, MN; Greenville, MS; Laurel/Hattiesburg, MS; Tupelo, MS) for 30 days, through, July 9, 2012.
- Notice of Intent (April 9, 2014): of Silver Airways Corp. ... to discontinue subsidized scheduled air service between Atlanta, Georgia (ATL) and each of Muscle Shoals, Alabama (MSL), Greenville, Mississippi (GLH), Laurel/Hattiesburg, Mississippi (PIB), and Tupelo, Mississippi (TUP). Silver Airways intends to discontinue this service on July 8, 2014 or such earlier date as permitted by the Department in any final order terminating the eligibility of any of these communities under the essential air service (EAS) program.
- Order 2014-4-24 (April 22, 2014): prohibits Silver Airways Corp., from terminating service at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Greenville, Laurel/Hattiesburg, Meridian, and Tupelo, Mississippi, for 30 days beyond the end of the air carrier’s 90-day notice period, i.e. August 7, 2014. We are also requesting proposals from air carriers interested in providing Essential Air Service (EAS) at Muscle Shoals, Greenville, Laurel/Hattiesburg, Meridian, and/or Tupelo.
- Order 2014-4-26 (April 24, 2014): directing interested persons to show cause as to why the Department should not terminate the eligibility ... under the Essential Air Service (EAS) program based on criteria passed by Congress in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law No. 112-95). We find that Muscle Shoals is within 175 miles of a large or medium hub, Nashville International Airport (BNA), a medium hub, and, thus, is subject to the 10-enplanement statutory criterion. We also find that during fiscal year 2013, Muscle Shoals generated a total of 3,973 passengers (inbound plus outbound). Consistent with the methodology described above, that results in an average of 6.3 enplanements per day, below the 10-enplanement statutory criterion necessary to remain eligible in the EAS program.
- Order 2014-6-6 (June 24, 2014): finalizing its tentative decision in Order 2014-4-26, issued April 24, 2014, terminating the eligibility of the communities captioned above under the Essential Air Service program based on requirements passed by Congress in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law No. 112-95)
- Order 2014-8-19 (August 27, 2014): deferring action at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and Greenville, Mississippi, until further Order from the Department. Both Muscle Shoals and Greenville filed their waiver petitions on July 23, 2014, and their long-term status in the EAS program will not be known until the waiver process has concluded.
- Order 2014-9-21 (September 26, 2014): granting the waiver petitions of all of the 12 above-captioned communities. These communities’ compliance with 49 U.S.C 41731(a)(1)(B) will be re-assessed based on Fiscal Year 2015 data (October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2015).
- Order 2014-10-21 (October 24, 2014): selecting carriers to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) to serve Bradford and Franklin/Oil City, Pennsylvania, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Greenville, Mississippi, and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. SeaPort Airlines, Inc. to serve Greenville and Muscle Shoals.
- Northwest Alabama Regional Airport, official site
- Aerial image as of February 1999 from USGS The National Map
- FAA Terminal Procedures for MSL, effective July 23, 2015
- Resources for this airport: