Friday, June 8, 2018

Photo Friday: Construction Update


Well here we are, a solid week into June. It's probably time for a construction update. For fun, I'll start with the remodeling of the Terminal 4 parking garage, seen in the opening shot. This parking garage, which is sandwiched between the control tower and the TBIT, used to feature an active public heliport on its roof. It was common for helicopters to fly in and pick up or drop off passengers. I've been told that Robinson Helicopter, whose factory is less than ten miles away at the Torrance airport, would pick up customers at LAX and shuttle them over to the factory to pick up their new helicopter.

This changed around 2012-2013, when construction work around the TBIT and Terminal 4 required large cranes in the vicinity. The heliport was initially closed when the cranes were in operation, but the temporary closures became permanent when Los Angles World Airports (LAWA) opted to convert the roof of the parking garage into revenue-generating parking spaces. To be fair, there was undeniably a need for additional parking capacity at both Terminals 3 and 4. Despite that, the roof of the parking garage was used by law enforcement helicopters in the wake of the Terminal 3 shooting in November, 2013. Since then, there has been an emergency-use helipad on the southeast corner of the parking garage. As you can see in the above photo, that has now been closed to allow for construction of vehicle access ramps.

Now for the mid-field concourse construction:



And here's the current state of Terminal 1:


There is more to discuss on the topic of construction, but I'll leave it there for now. To close, a couple of shots of an airplane that I've only before seen at night. As it is, these photos were taken shortly before dusk under the marine layer, so the camera was struggling to focus with the poor light and movement. I've tweaked the first shot, while the second one is pretty much how it came out of the camera. This Hainan Airlines B787 Dreamliner sports a bevy of pandas:




Friday, May 25, 2018

Photo Friday: Odds and Ends


This week's edition of Photo Friday is a collection of recent shots that seemed worthy of sharing. There have been some camera issues as of late and May gray has set in, so good photos are somewhat less plentiful than usual. Nonetheless, the opener is the American A321 with the cancer-fighting Avengers.

Next is the Xiamen Dreamliner in UN blue:


And we now have a second carrier operating the Airbus A350 at LAX:




One other item of business is that the new EU regulations about internet privacy have taken effect. Those of you from that part of the world should be seeing a notice to that effect at the top of the page. If not, let me know. In short, this blog is hosted by Blogger.com, which is a Google property; Google Analytics and AdSense and related cookies may be used. I don't know what impact all of this will have on my European readers, but everyone who has content on the web right now is advising their readers of privacy policies and such. I do not personally collect any sort of personal data beyond any comments that you care to make, and many of those are published with the relevant blog entry. I use no third-party features beyond those included with Blogger, and the only information I get from the Google Analytics lets me know how many visitors come to the blog, what blog entry they see, and what website referred them here if there was one. The notice I received reads as follows:

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As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies, and other data collected by Google.

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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:

I believe that the (former) Virgin America A321s are the first A321neos at LAX. Here are a couple more:




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).