Sunday, June 23, 2024

Catching up on construction, Part 2


Welcome to the second part of the northside taxiway construction story. We pick up in February, 2024. Once we made it out of the 2023 holiday season, the project expanded to include work on rebuilding Taxiway E with the intersections for the western exits (V and W). This stage of the project required the closure of the affected portion of Taxiway E, seen in the following photos:

Not really mentioned so far has been the opening of the extended portion of Taxiway D, which now runs all the way west to Taxiway AA. The fresh concrete visible in the second and third photos is the new Taxiway D extension. This gives us another parallel taxiway on the north side all the way to the west end of the airport. Therefore, even with the Taxiway E closure, it is still possible for aircraft to arrive on the 24s and taxi to their gates at Terminals 1, 2, and 3 -- with some exceptions. During the Taxiway E closure, there are restrictions on the size of aircraft that may use the new portion of Taxiway D to protect wingtips and the construction site. As such, B767s and smaller aircraft may use taxiway D adjacent to the construction zone; larger aircraft such as the B747 in the third photo have to taxi over to the south side to get around the restriction.

By the end of February, the Runway 24R/06L phase of the project was completed and the runway reopened. The new taxiways now needed to be continued on across Runway 24L/06R and tied into Taxiway E. In March, Runway 24L/06R closed for both the taxiway construction and runway centerline rehabilitation. The red on this diagram illustrates what was closed at this point:

With RY24L closed, we're now using RY24R for arrivals and departures

Early March progress on the intersection of Taxiway S and RY24L/06R

At the same time, Taxiway U isn't quite so far along

The RY24L centerline rehabilitation project started with the removal of the existing concrete with a really large jackhammer. About to touch down on RY24R is an Air Premia B787-9 Dreamliner arriving from Seoul, South Korea

Another view of the Taxiway E closure after we had some rain

Late March progress on Taxiway S

Pouring concrete for Taxiway S; notice how thick the slabs are!

Progress on Taxiway U at the end of March

New concrete for Taxiway E

The next three photos show the progress on Taxiway S over a week's time in early April:

This is how things looked by the end of April:


Friday, June 21, 2024

Catching up on construction, Part 1

Since late last summer, there's been some portion of the north runway complex closed for construction. The opening graphic, courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), shows the scope of the project. There will be four new runway exits, while the existing centerfield exits will be decommissioned. As part of this project, all of the runway entrances/exits will be renamed. The work began with the closure of Runway 24R/06L (the outboard runway) as well as some partial closures of Taxiway E. While the runway was closed for construction of the northern portion of the taxiways, LAWA also took the opportunity to replace some of the runway centerline. The following four photos show early stages of the work in September, 2023:
Taxiway E closed for construction of the tie-in for future Taxiway U. This is due north of the north end of the TBIT

The early stages of future Taxiway S. In the foreground is the D-9 alley, with Terminal 2 in the lower right corner

Another view of the future intersection of Taxiways E & U, taken about a month after the first

Taken about the same time, progress on future Taxiway S

By October, we see the first concrete of Taxiway S

Looking over the top of Terminal 3, we can see the beginnings of Taxiway U

Moving further west reveals early progress on future Taxiways V & W

Another shot of progress on Taxiway S, this time near the end of October

Early November reveals more concrete for Taxiway S

Taxiway U at the end of November

Gratuitous airplane picture. Lufthansa is the only passenger carrier operating both the B747-8 and the A380 at LAX. For a while, Korean also had both, but now we only get their A380s

Early December progress on Taxiway U

Here we see both Taxiways U and S in January, 2024

Mid-January photo of the north side in which all four new taxiways appear

In all of these photos, Runway 24R/06L is closed. This means that RY24L/06R, the inboard runway, is being utilized for both arriving and departing aircraft. For many airports it's everyday practice to use one runway for takeoffs and landings, but LAX typically lands on the outboard runways while departing from the inboards. We do this for for both safety and volume, so when one runway is having to perform double duty we generally will send more departures than usual to the other side of the airport. This post gets us through the middle of January of this year; future posts will continue the saga.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

FAA ATC application window this weekend

The FAA will be accepting applications for air traffic controllers April 19 through April 22. This opportunity is approximately an annual event, so if you miss this one you may have to wait a year for another chance. What you need to know:

  • You must not have reached your 31st birthday - this is because of our retirement rules
  • You must be a US citizen
  • You must be willing to relocate
  • You must speak English clearly

 The application process is handled through

To prepare for the application window, you can create an account and input your resume and other documents ahead of time. 

For more information, visit the FAA's Be ATC page

If you're interested, I strongly encourage you to create your USA Jobs account now, and prepare your resume and other information. Previous application windows have been very busy, even to the point of crashing the web servers, so be prepared to put in your application as soon as the window opens -- and also be prepared to have to make the attempt more than once. 

Once you have applied, expect the hiring process to be slow and frustrating; after all this is the federal government -- the wheels turn slowly and laboriously. I've heard of applicants waiting for two or three years, so have something else in the meantime, along with a Plan B or Plan C.

If you get hired and sent to a facility, even if it's not someplace that you want to be, your goal at that point is to make it through the training program. Once you've made it through the training program at that facility, you can work towards going somewhere else. Being unsuccessful at that first facility may not be the end of your FAA career, but it will be highly dependent upon what that facility was, and how far you made it in their training program. My personal recommendation, if you have a choice, is to not aim for a high-level facility. That may be where you want to end up, but initially your goal is to get certified at your first facility, as that means that you will have a job and the opportunity to move up. If you wash out at that first facility there's no guarantee that you'll get another chance elsewhere.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • The work schedule is awful; we work all shifts, and it's common to have a different shift every day
  • You're going to work nights
  • You're going to work weekends
  • You're going to work holidays
  • We choose schedules and vacations based upon seniority
  • You will have to be able to hold a Class 2 physical -- the same as commercial pilots
  • You do not have to be a pilot
  • Despite some states and localities legalizing the use of various recreational pharmaceuticals, FAA controllers are federal employees for whom drug use is not allowed, and we are subject to regular and random alcohol and drug testing
  • Like other federal government jobs, preference is given to military veterans


Sunday, October 15, 2023



This Southwest came in as an emergency last month. I don't recall the specifics, but there were no injuries and the aircraft landed safely. Here we see the LAX ARFF trucks inspecting the aircraft with thermal cameras for a possible fire or, more likely, hot brakes, a probable scenario when an aircraft lands overweight or at a higher than usual speed. An overweight landing can occur when an aircraft has to return for landing shortly after departing for a long-distance flight and as a result still has a large fuel load onboard; many aircraft can actually take off at a higher weight than they can land, as they are designed with the expectation that they will burn off fuel during the flight, and not all aircraft have the ability to dump fuel. A high-speed landing may happen when the aircraft experiences difficulties with the wing flaps or leading edge slats. Both of these are aerodynamic devices on the wings that allow the aircraft to take off and land at slower speeds by increasing the amount of lift that the wings can produce. Because flaps and slats also increase the aerodynamic drag, they are retracted after take off to allow higher cruise speed and reduced fuel burn, and then extended again before landing. If the airplane takes off and they can't be retracted, the flight will usually return because the added drag will slow the plane down and increase the required fuel for the flight, likely to the extent that the fuel onboard will not be sufficient. The more common scenario that we see is a flight that is arriving and discovers that they are unable to extend the flaps and/or slats, perhaps due to a hydraulic failure. This will result in the aircraft landing at a higher speed than normal, which may lead to hot brakes. Hot brakes can be an issue because at sufficient temperatures the brakes can actually catch fire.