• Orlando International prepares to handle larger aircraft


    ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando International Airport is making some big changes hoping to accommodate bigger aircraft.

    The airport is widening and strengthening equipment to handle the massive Airbus A380 airplane.

    In 2007 one of the A380s touched down at OIA as it toured the country.

    Since then the only time a plane that large has landed at OIA is when it had to be rerouted because it couldn't land at another destination.

    But airport officials hope to change that. 

    "We want to be in a position ... to be able to support airlines that want to bring those aircraft into this market," said Rob Brancheau, director of planning, engineering and construction at OIA.

    To make it happen, construction crews have been hard at work on a multimillion dollar project.

    "These are aircraft with bigger wingspans, longer length and it requires us to make some changes to the airfields to support their operations," said Brancheau.

    One of the biggest parts of the project involves a giant taxi bridge that crosses an airport road.

    When the taxi bridge was build it was designed to hold planes up to about 1 million pounds. The new project would strengthen the bridge's foundation, allowing it to accommodate planes up to 1.3 million pounds.

    Another part of the project will include widening taxiways on and off runways to allow for longer planes with longer wingspans.

    The biggest airplanes now can hold up to 900 passengers and are mostly used for overseas flights. 

    Officials at OIA said the ability to have those aircraft routinely land in Orlando will help the area grow.

    "Bringing in the larger aircraft will just mean more business for central Florida," said Brancheau.

    Airport officials tell us they hope to have the project completed by the end of March.

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