KUSA — It wasn’t planned, but Denver International Airport proved it can handle the world’s largest passenger airliner Sunday night.
That’s because an Airbus A380 had to land in the Mile High City after it was diverted due to an on-board medical issue. The pilot said over air traffic control that he had an epileptic patient. The Air France plane was headed from Los Angeles International Airport to Charles de Gaulle Airport in France, according to DIA spokesperson Emily Williams.
Before the plane landed, it needed to lighten its load by dumping thousands of gallons of fuel.
Aviation expert Gregory Feith says this is a rare event, and the kerosene evaporates at high altitudes.
“There really is no health concern," Feith said. "It’s only at low altitudes but those are rare events as well."
It’s the first time an Airbus A380 has ever landed in Denver, and after a couple of hours on the ground, it departed via the airport’s longest runway – which DIA also said is the longest runway in North America.
“We have gates to accommodate an aircraft this size, so we’re ready when an airline wants to begin A380 service to DEN,” DIA wrote in a Facebook post.
The Airbus A380 entered commercial service for the first time in 2007 with Singapore Airlines, and has two decks with 5,920 square feet of usable floor space in the cabin. This means there’s space for more than 500 travelers.
According to the Airbus website, the A380 fleet operates routes to 60 airports.