May 25--With the help of a giant Airbus A380 jetliner, city officials Monday inaugurated a new cross-field taxiway at Los Angeles International Airport that is designed to improve the safety and efficiency of moving aircraft on the ground.
Situated west of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, the $88-million taxiway is 3,437 feet long and wide enough to accommodate the largest commercial planes as they travel between the north and south runway complexes.
The taxiway is one of several modernization projects underway at LAX, the third-busiest airport in the nation. The ribbon of concrete provides an alternative to the current cross-field routes, which were too narrow to allow an Airbus A380 to clear aircraft on the adjoining taxiway. The A380 has a wingspan almost as long as a football field.
In addition to the A380, the 100-foot-wide taxiway can handle the next generation of large wide-body aircraft, such as the Boeing 747-8 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Officials for LAX and the Federal Aviation Administration say the new route will help reduce aircraft congestion that would result from construction of the Bradley West project, which includes new gates, new concourses and a great central hall filled with restaurants and concessions.
That work requires closing and relocating two existing cross-field taxiways immediately west of the Bradley terminal to make room for the improvements. Those taxiways will be widened and strengthened to handle larger jets.
"This is the first enabling project for the Bradley West," said Gina Marie Lindsey, director of Los Angeles World Airports. "It is also the first taxiway at LAX designed for the largest aircraft."
For Monday's ceremony, Qantas supplied an A380 that was en route from Australia. It landed on one of the airport's southern runways and then moved along the new taxiway to reach its gate on the north side of the Bradley terminal.
As the plane headed to the terminal, the airport's firefighting units heralded the opening of the taxiway with plumes from their water cannons.
The stark contrast between San Francisco Int'l Airport and LAX has led to speculation that San Francisco will woo A380 flights away from LAX.
The south airfield improvement project is the first phase of the $4 billion LAX modernization plan.
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