HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A test model of the world's largest passenger jet landed Tuesday at Bradley International Airport, the first of three stops this week to prepare the aircraft for U.S. service.
The Airbus A380, whose engines are assembled by Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney workers, landed at Bradley around 8:20 a.m. EDT after flying over employees outside Pratt's facilities in East Hartford and Middletown.
The 239-foot-long airliner has wings as long as a football field and is powered by four engines. The model seats up to 555 passengers in a three-class configuration, although the plane that landed Tuesday was a test aircraft and not outfitted with a passenger cabin.
Its GP7200 engines are designed and built by the Engine Alliance, a 50-50 joint venture between East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney and GE Aviation, headquartered in Cincinnati.
They are assembled by Middletown-based Pratt workers, company spokesman Matthew Perra said Tuesday.
''It's a really exciting day for us because it's a chance for our employees to see the fruits of their labors,'' Perra said.
The A380 already has stopped at 45 airports worldwide, and Airbus expects more than 70 airports will be ready to accommodate the jet by 2011.
After Bradley, the A380 will fly to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Ky., on Wednesday and San Francisco International Airport on Thursday. The airliner made its inaugural flight to the U.S. in March.
The Engine Alliance was created in May 1996 and has sold about 300 GP7200 engines with a combined value of about $4 billion, Perra said.
The Federal Aviation Administration certified the engines for domestic use last year, and the A380's current demonstration tour is part of its anticipated December certification of the aircraft/engine combination, Perra said.
''It's our last step before we're able to actually put the aircraft into production. It's definitely a big milestone for us,'' he said.
Airbus already has orders and firm commitments from 14 customers for 156 of the double-deck A380 aircraft, according to the company.
The GP7200 engines are designed to be more fuel efficient than older engines, produce less noise and generate 70,000 pounds of thrust each, Perra said. They also can power planes for long distances, such as traveling from Singapore to New York City without stopping to refuel, he said.