Large, dark, smoke clouds billowing up from the west side of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on Wednesday might have looked like an airplane had crashed on the runway.
Instead, it was an Airbus 380 mock-up burning at the airport’s newly expanded Fire Training Research Center.
The airport recently spent $29 million to upgrade the facility, adding the A380 fire trainer and a state-of-the-art classroom to run aircraft accident simulations for firefighters. The project was partly funded by a $19.2 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Our hope is that with these new facilities the rate of learning will increase,” said Jim Crites, executive vice president of operations at DFW Airport. “More lessons can be learned and more lives are saved over time.”
The A380 fire trainer is a double-decker mock-up that is configured with seats and cargo holds to provide accurate representations of what firefighters would face if a fire brokeout on a large wide-body aircraft.
At the center, the airport trains its own firefighters and provides training sessions for firefighters at airports across the country. Recently, a group of firefighters from Branson, Missouri, spent the day working on fire simulations at the center, Crites said.
The airport also announced on Wednesday a partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where students will be able to take courses at the center. The facility first opened in 1995 and has trained more than 15,000 firefighters.