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Mock Airbus A380 Jetliner Built For DFW Fire Training

MELISSA (CBSDFW.COM) - An structure in the City of Melissa is getting a lot of strange looks from residents.

Steel workers in the Collin County city are putting the finishing touches on...well, there's a lot of speculation on what it is.

Britt Fletcher, the vice president of Alpha SteelFab, said, "Some think it's a submarine. Some think it's some kind of a bomb."

The structure is actually a replica of an Airbus A380 commercial jetliner and the first ever built in the United States.

Airbus A380 Replica 2
(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Alpha SteelFab has been hired to construct the mock plane for fire training at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The real jets will start arriving later this year.

"The bulkheads, overhead bins as you can see, this would have all the obstacles the firefighter would literally see on the airplane," Fletcher said as he gave CBS 11's J.D. Miles a tour.

The fuselage is as tall as a three-story building, is 160 feet long, but only weighs 500,000 pounds.

The real plane is designed to be a "hotel" with wings. In the rare event of a fire, the replica will better prepare ground crews.

The newer and larger Airbus A380 contains multiple floors and stairwells that firefighters need training to be familiar with.

"If you think about a firefighter he has to know there's a third level on an airplane," said Fletcher.

With passenger and even toilet seats made of steel, the replica plane would never make it off the ground. But it has lifted a business that already has other airports around the country ready to place orders.

Fletcher said of the replica, "We're going to miss it but we're hoping to replace it with another one."

It has taken 12 workers six months to construct the fuselage, which will be disassembled Friday and taken to the DFW Airport Fire Training Research Center.

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