Montana Department of Transportation

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Aviation in Montana

Feature Story

MDT Aeronautics Division Seeks Public Input Regarding Airway Beacon Program

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) would like to notify the public and seek comments on a proposal to decommission airway beacons.

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 safer navigational resources became available in the 1960s the FAA began decommissioning the airway beacons until withdrawing all support by the early 1970s.

At that point the State adopted and continued operation of 17 of the beacons in southwest Montana where radio navigational aids did not provide night pilots complete coverage in this area. As navigational technology has advanced, however, the beacons have become less viable as a navigational aid to night pilots.

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