In 2014 Bradley was the 53rd busiest airport in the United States by number of passengers enplaned. Bradley is branded as the "Gateway to New England" and is home to the New England Air Museum, and North America's only Flight Simulation conference, FlightSimCon.
Bradley has its origins in the 1940 acquisition of 1,700 acres (690 ha) of land in Windsor Locks by the State of Connecticut. In 1941 this land was turned over to the U.S. Army, as the country began its preparations for the impending war.
The airfield began civil use in 1947 as Bradley International Airport. Its first commercial flight was Eastern Air Lines Flight 624. International cargo operations at the airport also began that year. Bradley eventually replaced the older, smaller Hartford-Brainard Airport as Hartford's primary airport.
In 1948 the federal government deeded the Airport to the State of Connecticut for public and commercial use.
In 1950 Bradley International Airport exceeded the 100,000-passenger mark, handling 108,348 passengers.
Former American Airlines gates in Terminal B.
In 1952 the Murphy Terminal opened. Later dubbed Terminal B, the terminal was the oldest passenger terminal in the US when it closed in 2010.
The April 1957 OAG shows 39 weekday departures: 14 American, 14 Eastern, 9 United and 2 Northeast. Nonstops never reached west of Chicago or south of Washington until Eastern and Northeast began Miami in 1967. Nonstops to Los Angeles and Atlanta started in 1968.
In 1971 the Murphy Terminal was expanded with an International Arrivals wing. This was followed by the installation of Instrument Landing Systems on two runways in 1977.
In 1976 an experimental monorail was completed to link the terminal to a parking lot seven-tenths of a mile away. The "people mover" cost US$4 million and was anticipated to cost $250 thousand annually to operate. Due to the high anticipated operating cost the monorail was never put in service and was dismantled in 1984 to make room for a new terminal building. The retired vehicles from the system are now on display at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor, CT.
In 1986 new Terminal A and Bradley Sheraton Hotel were completed. The Roncari cargo terminal was also constructed.
In 2001 construction began on a new parking garage. When completed, the garage could not immediately be used. The September 11, 2001 attacks led to regulations requiring parking structures to be set back farther from the tarmac. After opening, for several weeks every vehicle had to be individually inspected, severely reducing its value. Bradley eventually received a waiver for normal operation of the garage from the Department of Homeland Security.
Food court and shopping hall connecting the East and West concourses of Terminal A
2001 also saw the commencement of the Terminal Improvement Project to expand Terminal A with a new concourse, construct a new International Arrivals Building and centralize passenger screening. The airport expansion was part of a larger project to enhance the reputation of the Hartford metropolitan area as a destination for business and vacation travel. The new East Concourse, designed by HNTB, opened in September 2002.
In December 2002, a new International Arrivals Building opened west of Terminal B. This structure houses the Federal Inspection Station and has one jetway for deboarding aircraft. Two government agencies support the facility; U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The FIS Terminal can process more than 300 passengers per hour from aircraft as large as a Boeing 747. This facility cost approximately $7.7 million, which included the building and site work, funded through the Bradley Improvement Fund. Currently the International Arrivals Building is utilized by Delta Air Lines and Frontier Airlines (Apple Vacations) for their seasonal service to Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. All international arrivals except for those from airports with customs preclearance are processed through the IAB. International departures will be handled from the existing terminal complex.
On October 2–3, 2007, the Airbus A380 visited Bradley on its world tour, stopping in Hartford to showcase the aircraft to Connecticut workers for Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Sundstrand, both divisions of United Technologies, which helped build the GP7000 TurboFan engines, which is an option to power the aircraft. Bradley Airport is one of only 68 airports worldwide large enough to accommodate the A380. No carriers provide regular A380 service to Bradley, but the airport occasionally is a diversion airfield for JFK-bound A380s.
On October 18, 2007, Bradley International Airport was named one of the top five small airports in the North American Airport Satisfaction Study by J. D. Power and Associates.
On October 7, 2008, Embraer, an aerospace company based in Brazil, selected Bradley as its service center for the Northeastern United States. An $11 million project was begun with support from teams of the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Connecticut's Economic and Community Development. The center is intended to be a full maintenance and repair facility for its line of business jets and is expected to employ up to 60 aircraft technicians. The facility was temporarily closed ten months after opening due to economic conditions, reopening on February 28, 2011.
On June 21, 2011, the new Boeing 747-8 stopped at Bradley on its introductory world tour, it was the 747-8F cargo variant.
On June 22, 2012, the Connecticut Airport Authority board approved the hiring of Kevin A. Dillon as the Executive Director for the Connecticut Airport Authority including Bradley International Airport. Executive Director Dillon plans to continue the development of airport facilities, as well as the establishment of new routes.
On October 21, 2015, Bradley announced renewed transatlantic service, partnering with Aer Lingus to bring daily flights between Bradley and Dublin.
On November 13, 2015, the new owners of TAP Portugal, a consortium headed by Mr. David Neeleman, announced the intention of starting a direct route between Lisbon and Bradley International.
Bradley International Airport covers 2,432 acres (984 ha) at an elevation of 173 feet (53 m). It has three asphaltrunways: 6/24 is 9,510 by 200 feet (2,899 x 61 m); 15/33 is 6,847 by 150 feet (2,087 x 46 m); 1/19 is 4,268 by 100 feet (1,301 x 30 m).
In the year ending June 30, 2011 the airport had 107,404 aircraft operations, average 294 per day: 52% airline, 27% air taxi, 17% general aviation and 3% military. 56 aircraft were then based at this airport: 52% jet, 30% military, 12% multi-engine, 4% helicopter and 2% single-engine.
Terminal B, the 1952 Murphy Terminal, was closed to passenger use on April 15, 2010. The structure continues to host RON (Remain OverNight) aircraft. Plans call for the eventual replacement of the Murphy Terminal with a new 19-gate Terminal B.
All international arrivals (except flights with customs preclearance) are handled at the International Arrivals Building, located to the west of Terminal B. This building was formerly used by Northwest Airlines between 2007 and 2009 when they offered non-stop flights from Bradley to Amsterdam. Today, Delta is the sole operator using the IAB.
118th Airlift Squadron (118 AS): operates the C-130 Hercules. The squadron was previously designated as the 118th Fighter Squadron and operated the Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft from the mid 1970s to 2007. Between 2007 and 2013, the squadron operated the C-21.
Army Aviation Support Facility and the Army Aviation Readiness Center provides aviation support to Army Operations, MedEvac and Air Assault missions throughout the world. Flying UH60 BlackHawks, CH47 Chinooks, C12 Fixed Wing.
On July 3, 2012 the Connecticut Department of Transportation released an Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Evaluation, detailing a proposal to replace the now-vacant Terminal B. The replacement proposal calls for:
Demolition of the Murphy Terminal and existing International Arrivals Building;
Construction of a new Terminal B, with two concourses containing a total of 19 gates, two of which could accommodate international widebody aircraft;
Inclusion of a new Federal Inspection Services facility within the new Terminal;
Construction of a new Central Utility Plant;
Relocation of the Terminal B arrival roadway and departure viaduct;
Realignment of Schoephoester Road; and
Construction of a new 7-level parking garage and consolidated car rental facility, adding 2,600 public parking spaces and 2,250 rental car spaces.
The proposal calls for a three-phase construction program:
Demolition of the existing Terminal B, realignment of surface roads and construction of the new garage/rental car facility would occur during the initial phase. The initial phase is estimated to cost between $630 and $650 million.
Construction of part of Terminal B and its upper roadway would occur in a second phase, with an estimated completion date of 2018.
Construction of the final segment of Terminal B and its upper roadway would occur in a third phase, with an estimated completion date of 2028.
Actual completion dates could vary due to funding and demand.
Amtrak trains serve both the nearby Windsor Locks and Windsor stations. The Hartford Line, which is expected to begin service in 2018, will increase the speed, frequency and reliability of trains along the corridor. Presently, 12 trains serve Windsor Locks station daily. This is expected to increase to 32 in 2018 and 70 by 2020. Plans call for every train at Windsor Locks Station to be met by a shuttle bus connection directly to and from the terminal. Officials have discussed plans to construct a fixed rail link to the airport.
On March 4, 1953 a Slick AirwaysCurtiss-Wright C-46 Commando N4717N on a cargo flight from New York-Idlewild Field crashed. Bradley was experiencing light rain and a low ceiling at the time of the incident. After being cleared to land on Runway 06, the pilot reported problems intercepting the localizer, and continued to circle down to get under the weather. The plane struck trees approximately 1.6 miles (2.6 km) southwest of the airport, killing the crew of two.
On July 16, 1971 a Douglas C-47B N74844 of New England Propeller Service crashed on approach. The aircraft was on a ferry flight to Beverly Municipal Airport, Massachusetts when an engine lost power shortly after take-off due to water in the fuel. At the time of the accident, the aircraft was attempting to return to Bradley Airport.
On May 3, 1991 a Ryan International (wet-leased by Emery Worldwide) Boeing 727-100QC, N425EX, caught fire during take-off. The take-off was aborted and the three crew members escaped, while the aircraft was destroyed by the fire. The fire was determined to have started in the number 3 engine. It was determined that the 9th stage HP compressor had ruptured.
On November 12, 1995 an American AirlinesMD-83, N566AA, crashed while trying to land at Bradley. American Airlines flight 1572 was substantially damaged when it impacted trees while on approach to runway 15 at Bradley International Airport. The airplane also impacted an instrument landing system antenna as it landed short of the runway on grassy, even terrain. The cause of the accident was determined to be the pilot's failure to reset the altimeter, however, severe weather may have played a factor. One of the 78 passengers was injured.
On January 21, 1998 a Continental ExpressATR-42, N15827, had an emergency during roll on landing. During the landing roll, a fire erupted in the right engine. The airplane was stopped on the runway, the engines were shut down and the occupants evacuated. The fire handles for both engines were pulled and both fire bottles on the right engine discharged. However, the fire on the right engine continued to burn. The airport fire services attended shortly afterward and extinguished the fire.
^Marks, Paul (May 28, 2006). "Archaeological Sleuths Hunt For Site of Bradley Airport Namesake's Fatal Crash". Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 14, 2011. Bradley's fatal accident occurred during a simulated aerial dogfight with Frank Mears, commander of the 64th Pursuit Squadron. The plane Bradley was flying spun out of control as he went into a sharp turn at about 5,000 feet. Stunned witnesses saw the plane spiral slowly into a grove of trees. Soon a column of smoke arose. They theorize that the young pilot blacked out from the gravitational forces felt during such a sharp aerial turn.