In 2017 Bradley was the 53rd-busiest airport in the United States, by passengers enplaned. Bradley was originally branded as the "Gateway to New England" and is home to the New England Air Museum. In 2016 Bradley International launched its new brand, "Love The Journey".
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 HartfordBrainard 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.
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. The first jets were United 720s to Cleveland in early 1961. Nonstops never reached west of Chicago or south of Washington until Eastern and Northeast began nonstops to 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 from the terminal to a parking lot 7/10 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 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, Connecticut.
The new Terminal A and Bradley Sheraton Hotel were completed in 1986. The Roncari cargo terminal was also built.
2001 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, housing the Federal Inspection Station with one jetway. 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 are handled from the existing terminal complex.
On October 23, 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 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 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.
On October 21, 2015 Bradley announced renewed transatlantic service, partnering with Aer Lingus to bring daily flights between Bradley and Dublin. Service to Dublin began on September 28, 2016. On September 13, 2018 Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that Aer Lingus service at Bradley International Airport will continue for at least four more years under a new agreement made with the state, committing the airline to continue its transatlantic service at the airport through September 2022. Aer Lingus committed to placing one of its first four A321neoLR aircraft on the Bradley to Dublin route.
Norwegian Air Shuttle flew the airport's second transatlantic European flight. The first flight was on June 17, 2017 to Edinburgh in the UK. On January 15, 2018 the airline announced it would end service from Bradley to Scotland, with the last flight leaving March 25, 2018.
Bradley International Airport covers 2,432 acres (984 ha) at an elevation of 173 feet (53 m). It has three asphalt runways: 6/24 is 9,510 by 200 feet (2,899 × 61 m); 15/33 is 6,847 by 150 feet (2,087 × 46 m); 1/19 is 4,269 by 100 feet (1,301 × 30 m).
In the year ending March 31, 2016 the airport had 93,678 aircraft operations, averaging 257 per day: 61% airline, 21% air taxi, 16% general aviation and 3% military. Sixty-four aircraft were then based at this airport: 48% jet, 31% military, 3% multi-engine, 11% helicopter and 6% single-engine.
The third floor of terminal A has the administrative offices of the Connecticut Airport Authority.
Terminal B known as the Murphy Terminal opened in 1952 and was closed to passenger use in 2010. It was slowly demolished starting in late 2015 and ending in early 2016. It housed the Administrative offices of the CAA and TSA until its demolition.
The Customs Building that is used for arriving International Flights has been dubbed Terminal B until a New Terminal B with 24 gates is rebuilt.
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 with updates and facilities intended to improve access and ease of use for Bradley travelers.
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 million 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, but as of May 2018 the project had not left the planning stage.
In 2017, Bradley Airport was named 5th-best airport in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler's Reader's Choice Awards. Bradley scored well with readers in the categories of on-site parking, availability of charging stations and free Wi-Fi, decent restaurant options, and overall relaxed atmosphere.
In 2018, Bradley Airport was named 3rd-best airport in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler's Reader's Choice Awards. Bradley scored well with readers in the categories of flight choices, on-site parking, availability of charging stations and free Wi-Fi, decent restaurant options, and overall relaxed atmosphere.
Accidents and incidents
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 January 15, 1959, a USAFDouglas DC-4 impacted a wooded hillside in fog without the use of a compass during approach, the pilot survived, the co-pilot and mechanic were killed.
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. All 3 occupants survived.
On June 4, 1984, a Learjet 23 operated by Air Continental crashed on approach to runway 33 due to asymmetric retraction of the spoilers, 2 crew and 1 passenger were killed.
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, American AirlinesFlight 1572 crashed while trying to land at Bradley. The plane, a McDonnell DouglasMD-83, 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 and 5 crew on board were 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 in the right engine continued to burn. The airport fire services attended shortly afterward and extinguished the fire.
On October 2, 2019, a vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress owned by the Collings Foundation carrying three crew and ten passengers crashed into deicing tanks and a shed while attempting an emergency landing and caught fire. Seven deaths and seven injuries were reported, including one person on the ground. Witnesses reported that an engine failed upon takeoff and then the aircraft circled back at low altitude.
^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.