Friday, May 11, 2018

Photo Friday: Double Feature!

When I saw this out the window yesterday, it took me a moment to realize that while I've seen this special Alaska-Virgin America paint before, it wasn't on this airplane.

Continuing with a variation of that theme, I'll now show you this airplane, which you've also seen before:

Just as you've previously seen the red & blue paint -- albeit on a different aircraft; I've shown you this aircraft before as well -- and, as it happens, in the same post. That time, however, it looked like this:

EDIT:  Except that they are not, in fact the same aircraft. I mis-read the registrations and thought that the Most West Coast airplane had been redone with the Giants markings. In reality, they are consecutive registrations. I believe that that Virgin America A321s are the first A321neos at LAX.

Bonus shot of another aircraft that has appeared here before:

Since I missed last week's edition of Photo Friday, this week's is a double feature. Anybody see anything wrong with the new Air Canada paint?

The new Air Canada livery on a new B737 Max 8. Air Canada is the second carrier to bring the B737 Max to LAX; Southwest has had them here since January

In case it's not obvious, here are a few hints:

I'm guessing that either Delta and Air Canada went in half-and-half on a paint order, or one of them is picking up surplus planes from the other. If it's not one of those, perhaps Air Canada is now a subsidiary of Delta and is taking on the parent company colors (or vice-versa, I suppose). In any case, this gets my vote for the worst idea for a new livery since the SkyTeam and Star Alliance liveries were introduced:

As a tower controller, air carrier paint schemes are an important tool in identifying aircraft when I'm looking out the window. Any of these liveries causes confusion when trying to make a traffic call because it's not immediately obvious who one of these airplanes belongs to. Yes, if you look closely enough, each of them actually does have the actual airline name on it somewhere, but it's comparatively inconspicuous relative to the rest of the aircraft's markings. At night especially, these paint schemes are problematic because they become more difficult to identify. A controller or another pilot should not have to spend conscious effort studying an aircraft just to figure out who it belongs to. Where this matters is when a controller tells a pilot to "Follow the Delta from your left" or some similar instruction. If the pilot receiving that instruction doesn't see the Delta name in small lettering under the windows, perhaps because from their vantage point only the rear half of the SkyTeam (Delta) airplane is visible, then they won't be able to identify that it's the airplane that they're supposed to follow. Then they sit there blocking the taxiway, waiting to follow an airplane that is already long gone. 

This is enough of a problem that I teach ground controllers in training to identify the subject airplane as "Star Alliance" or SkyTeam" when making traffic calls instead of using the carrier name because that's what the pilot that they're talking to is going to see out his cockpit window. Am I being pedantic? Perhaps. Does it make for more effective traffic calls and lead to less pilot confusion? Yes, absolutely. The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is at night, when I can't see the airplane a mile away at the other end of the airport, and thus can't tell that it wears Star Alliance or SkyTeam colors. Then we're back to square one, in which I refer to the airplane by its company name because that's the information available to me on the flight strip and/or the radar display. 

While the new Air Canada paint scheme does clearly say Air Canada on the side and have the Maple Leaf logo on the tail, the overall livery is so similar to the current Delta livery that we often misidentify it when looking out the window. So that's a big thumbs down for the new Air Canada paint scheme. Rant over!

As a reward for putting up with all of that, here's a fun shot:

No, I didn't Photoshop this; that's really what it says on the side of this Volaris Airbus!

As I alluded to in the caption of the Air Canada B737 Max 8 photo, Southwest was the first carrier to bring the B737 Max to LAX. Here is one of those first B737 Max 8s seen at LAX, taken in early January of this year:

Southwest was the first to bring the B737 Max to LAX; this shot was taken during the first week that we started to see them. The most obvious spotting point from this angle is the shape of the tailcone and APU exhaust. Compared to the adjacent B737-700, the Max has a longer taper to its tailcone. An unfortunate side effect  of this new tailcone is its greater resemblance to the A320-series' tailcone.

On the subject of Southwest, it's time for a construction update:

Southwest has opened up Gate 14, and work is now progressing on Gate 12. In this shot, we see Gates 14, 16, and 18A occupied on this side, and continuing clockwise, Gates 17B, 17A, and 15  occupied on the other side.
Meanwhile, on the Terminal 2 side of the alley, Gate 23 has re-opened while Gate 25 is now getting some work

Friday, April 27, 2018

Photo Friday: Three of a kind

We don't see that many of the small regional jets at LAX these days. The 70-seat CRJ-700 is common in American Eagle, United Express, and Delta Connection colors. Coincidentally, in all three cases the flights are operated by SkyWest. We also have CRJ-900s (76 seats), but only in Delta Connection paint -- but still using the SkyWest callsign. In this shot, however, we have a trio of CRJ-200s. SkyWest operates these as well; witness the paint on the third one in line. All of these are flying for United Express. The three of them together have less passenger capacity (50 passengers each, for a total of 150) than the China Eastern B777 (316).

Friday, April 20, 2018

Photo Friday: Qantas Boeings

This weeks' edition of Photo Friday features a pair of Qantas Boeings. A B787-9, freshly-arrived from Melbourne, waits as a B747-400 departs from Runway 24 Left enroute to New York JFK.

Bonus shot: The next Runway 24 Right arrival was this Delta B767-300:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Construction update: D8 and Terminal 1.5

The big construction news at LAX is the on-going construction of a new terminal and the continuing reconstruction of one of the runways. But there's more than that; Southwest is still busy renovating Terminal One and construction has begun on a connector between Terminals One and Two. This has been designated Terminal 1.5, although there are no new gates associated with it. The opening shot was taken on New Years Day, 2018. The following shot was taken about two weeks later:

The next shot was taken in February. In it, we can see that some of the new concrete is in place for Gate 14, while the wall between Terminals One and Two has been breached:

The fourth and fifth shots were taken three weeks apart; the opening shot in late March, and the lower one in mid April. In just that short time span, you can see that Southwest is nearly done with Gate 14, and the temporary baggage sorting tent in what used to be Gate 4 has been taken away. Meanwhile, in March we lost Gate 21B (as seen above in shot #4), but then regained it in April at the expense of losing Gate 23: