FireFly - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited


Schiphol Airport

A solid steel plane designed to catch fire over and over again. 


When your plane goes over the Schiphol tarmac you may catch a glimpse of a burning plane next to the strip. But don’t worry—it’s supposed to do that.

This often-burning plane is aptly called the FireFly, and it is a one-of-a-kind training aircraft that is designed to prepare firefighters for a wide range of potential airport fire scenarios.

The FireFly is a special type of aircraft that dates back 2002. However, unlike most of its cousins, it is not at all lightweight, as its structure and walls are made of thick steel, and multiple gas pipes run through the entire plane. On top of that, it is also not modeled after one plane, but three, with either side featuring a wing of a different aircraft, as well as its tail. Inside it has three floors, two of them designed to look like a passenger plane and the third as a cargo plane. 

This makes the FireFly uniquely suited to test almost any kind of incident that could happen at the airport, meaning that the dedicated firefighting crew can prepare for most scenarios. And most importantly, the plane can be reused!

For this reason, you will see the plane on fire almost daily, and soon after the firemen will arrive at the location and extinguish the flames.

In 2019, the FireFly underwent a series of upgrades to improve its training capabilities. Among these changes was the replacement of the aircraft’s right wing, motor, and landing gear with one from the Airbus A380. These modifications not only enhanced the FireFly’s realism but also extended its lifespan as a training tool.

Know Before You Go

You can catch a glimpse of the Firefly from your airplane window if it goes through Terminal 3, otherwise you need to go to a spotter location or ask the fire department for permission.

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May 8, 2023

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