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MDT to decommission almost all airway beacons - KXLF.com | Continuous News | Butte, Montana

MDT to decommission almost all airway beacons

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The Montana Department of Transportation decided to decommission all airway beacons with the exception of the MacDonald Pass beacon.

MDT received 125 written comments and held three public meetings across the state to hear public recommendations on the beacons.

Director of MDT Mike Tooley concluded on Thursday, October 26 that it was in the state’s best interest to decommission.

MDT said that navigational technology advancements made the beacons obsolete. 

The beacons will be phased out over the next few years and anyone wishing to assume ownership and responsibility of any beacon can contact MDT’s Aeronautics Division.

According to MDT historian Jon Axline, the department will ensure the historical significance of the beacons is preserved. 

“We do realize the beacons are historically important and that we have started the process of documenting all of them before anything happens so we’ll have as good of a historic record as we possibly can,” Axline said.

The MacDonald Pass beacon is a registered historic landmark and will remain operational through 2021 while MDT searches for someone to take over operations.

The beacon was built in 1935 and completed the Northern Transcontinental Airway route. 

MDT Aeronautics Division Administrator Debbie Alke said Montana was the only state in the U.S. since the 1970s to operate nighttime airway beacons.

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