Mammoth new aircraft to visit SFO in October

The massive Airbus A380,the largest passenger plane to date, is scheduled to make a stop at San Francisco International Airport in October.

Airbus announced Monday that the plane’s American tour will take a test A380 aircraft from Bradley International Airport in Connecticut to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, then to SFO on Oct. 4.

The 525-plus-seat, double-decker aircraft will be on display at SFO through Oct. 5. Airbus boasts that the A380’s fuel-efficiency is proportional to that of a small economy car.

The national visits are part of a testing phase Airbus is conducting to determine whether the giants are compatible with facilities — such as gates — at major U.S. airports.

Many of these airports, including SFO, have spent millions in upgrading facilities to accommodate the plane.

Airbus, manufactured by a French aviation subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., touched down in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., for earlier test runs in March. SFO officials said then that they wanted to secure a visit from the jetliner sometime this summer.

SFO has already made upgrades to its International Terminal project, which was completed in 2000, to ensure a comfortable fit for the A380. Of the 23 total gates in that terminal, four were built extra-large to accomodate the airplane, according to airport spokesman Mike McCarron. Larger baggage carousels and side-by-side loading bridges were also part of the upgrades.

Airbus officials predict that by 2011, the A380 will be ready at more than 70 airports around the world.

tramroop@examiner.com


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