Montana Department of Transportation

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Aviation in Montana

Feature Story

MDT has reached a decision regarding the future of the Airway Beacon Program

The 84 airway beacons in Montana were installed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the 1930s as part of a national airway corridor network to assist pilots with night navigation. As advances in navigational technology became available in the 1960s the FAA began decommissioning airway beacons. The FAA withdrew all support of the airway beacons by the early 1970s.

Montana adopted 17 of the beacons and continued operation in southwest Montana where radio navigational aids did not provide complete coverage for night pilots. As navigational technology has advanced, however, the beacons have become obsolete as a navigational aid to night pilots.

To ensure the opportunity for public participation statewide, MDT Director Mike Tooley executed a charter that established a working group. The purpose of the Airway Beacon Working Group was to make recommendations as to the future of the Airway Beacon Program and to hold public meetings on those recommendations.

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