Monday, July 21, 2008

More airline rumors

I went on a tour of the airport last weekend with one of the airport operations guys. We get to do this every now and then for training: It's a chance for us to see the airport from the pilots' perspective. Along the way, I picked up some bits of news:

Our first Airbus 380 flight is expected in September; it'll be a one-time special operated by Emirates. Regular scheduled service is to start in October with Qantas. Singapore is also going to start A380 service later this year. Emirates is expected to start scheduled service this fall.

Air Lingus, callsign "Shamrock', will be pulling out of LAX in September. This will end the only direct service from LAX to Ireland.

Also in September, Delta will discontinue their Delta Connection operations operated by ExpressJet. As far as I know, the Delta Connection flights operated by Skywest will continue. ExpressJet, callsign 'Jetlink', also operates under their own name out of Long Beach and Ontario airports in the LA area. Along with their Delta Connection flights, ExpressJet will shut down its own airline operations on September 2nd, although their corporate charter arm will continue. ExpressJet also operates as Continental Express, although not at LAX, and this part of their operation will continue as well.

Along the same lines, we've heard rumblings that the American Eagle operation here may go away. I can't say that we'll miss their Saabs, as they're the pokiest things on the airport. I've heard that their DFW operation is replacing the Saabs with ATR's, and that would be an improvement here, too. If Eagle stays, they will eventually have to move, as their current terminal facility is slated to be replaced with a new North-South taxiway.

Several airlines are about to move terminals. Virgin America,which is currently at terminal 6, is going to move to terminal 3. Also expected later this year is service by Virgin Blue, out of Australia. They will also be at terminal 3. No word if the Virgin Atlantic operations will move from terminal 2. Several of the airlines currently at terminal 3 will be displaced to terminal 6 by the Virgin move. Among these are Frontier, Midwest, Spirit, and Sun Country.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Seein' the Blues

In this, the third installment of my series looking at blue airline paint schemes, wraps up by looking at schemes that have more than just the tail in blue. But first, some unfinished business:

The newest US Air paint scheme has a dark blue tail - so dark that it doesn't always show in pictures. The slightly lighter stripes help, but still the light has to hit it just right. This shot shows a 757, although US Air mostly operates Airbuses. In the foreground, another view of the Sun Country scheme I like, on a 737-800.

Previously, I mentioned the amount of white space around the eskimo's head on the Alaska 737's; a much better example would have been the MD80 (MD-83) tail. Alaska is rapidly phasing out their MD80's - they're expected to all be gone by the end of the summer.

Of the mostly- or solid-blue schemes, the most commonly seen at LAX is Southwest. I've heard them call this 'periwinkle'; we usually just call it a 'blue top'. There are still a modest number of the original 'corndog' Southwest jets around too. It occurred to me after the fact that teal is a more up-to-date name for the color on the AirTran aircraft.

Earlier, I showed you a Korean passenger 747; here's one of their freighters.

While everyone else has a white-topped fuselage with color on the belly and tail,
KLM has just the opposite.

One more big blue heavy, this time an Air Tahiti A340-300.

A Midwest B717 pulling into gate 36. Midwest also operates MD88's- see below.

Two attempts to show you the Air Canada very pale eggshell blue paint scheme, both on Airbus 320's, although Air Canada also brings in 319's and 321's: the top shot also shows a Midwest MD88; you can where the "Midwest Express" has been painted out. In the lower shot, a Southwest corndog sits at the gate.

Another color negative is this Alaska 737. Here you can see that this eskimo head is outlined in teal. It is on the white planes too, but very hard to see except up close.

Another trio, this time of Alaska Disney specials:

And that's it - I've had enough of the blues for a while!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Blue Tails, part Deux

As I mentioned before, I've been surprised at the number of paint schemes that feature blue on the tail. There are also a modest variety of all-blue or nearly all-blue paint schemes; you'll see a few this time, but that'll be the subject of yet another future post.

Delta had the same basic paint scheme for most of the 60's, 70's, and 80's. Then in the 90's, they went through two changes. Now, post-bankruptcy, they're changing again. I don't have any shots of the original scheme, and the first change is pretty rare these days. The shot above shows the two 90's schemes: Change one, in the background, which is fairly reminiscent of the original 'widget' design, and change two (flying flag) in front. The shot below illustrates the flying flag in the background, with the latest leaning widget design in front.

Alaska's navy blue eskimo design looked bigger on the older 737-400's; the newer -700's, -800's and -900's have a taller tail with more white space above the logo. Last time I showed a new Sun Country scheme; here's the more commonly seen blue and orange sunburst scheme, which I prefer - I like lots of color. Alaska: boring (at least this design); Sun Country: good.

Here's a better illustration of the old and new United paint schemes. That's a 757 in the new 'white top' scheme on the runway, while a 767 in the previous scheme waits in sequence.

Another view of Continental's blue tail with the golden globe on a 737 just airborne off of runway 25 right. Looming in the background is the new Airbus A380, on a publicity visit last November. We're supposed to start seeing the 380 in scheduled service here later this year; Singapore, Qantas, and Emirates have all announced intentions to bring the A380 to LAX.

Two big Boeings: A Korean 747-400 on departure roll and an All Nippon 777-300 taxiing out. The 777-300 is longer than the 747; in fact it's so long that it can't hold between the 24's on the most popular exit (taxiway AA) - a restriction that also applies to the Airbus 340-600. When either of these lands on runway 24 right, it has to be started across runway 24 left before the next arrival for 24 right crosses the threshhold. We actually had an operational error last month because an All Nippon 777-300 showed up with a new identifier (B77W) that we hadn't been briefed on; another aircraft landed behind it and rolled to the end of the runway while the B777 was holding on AA. Afterwards, it was determined that the 777 was sticking nearly ten feet into the safety zone for the runway - the incident was classified as a minor runway incursion.

All Nippon's cargo operation is Nippon Cargo, seen here rolling out on runway 25 left - you can tell that it's on landing roll because the thrust reversers are engaged: see the open slots in the engine nacelles compared to the previous picture.

More cargo, in this case a Fedex MD-11 just lifting off runway 25 left.

Another oddball: An Antonov AN-124 climbs away off the south complex. We don't see these too often thankfully, as they sit on the runway for three or four minutes before starting their takeoff roll. I have no idea what they need that long in position for, and none of their crews speak sufficient English to explain it.

A TACA A320 at Terminal 2, sandwiched between an Aviacsa 737-200 and an Air Canada Embraer 190. As I mentioned before, we haven't seen Aviacsa in a while. TACA and LACSA share the same paint scheme (like Lan Chile and Lan Peru), but they do label their aircraft with "TACA" or "LACSA" on the front of the fuselage. It's hard to tell in this picture, but the Air Canada paint scheme is all-over eggshell blue, with a bit more blue shading on the tail around the maple leaf. The Air Canada blue is even lighter than the Korean Air blue seen above. Air Canada also has a version that has a white fuselage with the same blue tail.

Big and bigger, again: An Air France 777-300 and an Air New Zealand 767-300. Air France used to bring in 747's, but nowadays they bring in 777's (-200's and -300's) and Airbus 340-300's.
New Zealand brings in 747's, 767's, and 777's.

Not quite blue, but close enough: Like Air New Zealand, AirTran (callsign: Citrus) has aqua-colored tails, except more so. The engine nacelles on this 737-700 are definitely blue. AirTran, which started out as ValuJet, also operates B717's (nee MD-95's), but they don't bring them here anymore. I did see them daily when I was in Memphis.

ATA is now defunct, but they had a variety of blue-tailed paint schemes, two of which are seen here on a couple of 757's. The upper shot is a 757-300; the lower a 757-200. Midwest (formerly Midwest Express) is another of the solid-blue contingent.

Another extinct operator: Champion had a small fleet of 727's; this was the last one we saw at LAX.

An AeroMexico trio: A better shot of the bare-metal scheme (it's hard to get a good picture of a bare-metal airplane), followed by the all-over paint scheme and a better shot of the AeroMexico Connect ERJ. The pink tail in the first shot belongs to Delta's Breast Cancer Awareness 757.

Alternative paint schemes: The Star Alliance was a international group of airlines that were code sharing and cross marketing. Lufthansa and United were among the members. Here, a Lufthansa 747 touches down on runway 24 right. This paint scheme could be confusing for controllers, as it was hard to tell who the airline was by looking out the window. Fortunately, I think it's being phased out.

I seem to recall that this North American 757 was somebody's presidential campaign visiting LA last December, but I don't remember whose it was.

A corporate 767-200 about to touch down on runway 24 right.

Another corporate airliner, but this one is 'just' a 737. Those stripes on the tail make my eyes hurt!

Another Memphis flashback: I shot this Baron on the Signature ramp about three years ago. It was operated by AirNet Express (callsign: Star Check), who was primarily a check hauler for the Federal Reserve. There used to be a big business flying checks at night, but as the banks transition over to entirely electronic systems, this segment of aviation is fading away. AirNet has diversified by also handling small packages, particularly lab samples. Not all of their planes have blue tails; ala Braniff, they also have red tails and yellow tails. That control tower in the background is the Fedex Ramp Tower.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blue Tails

In an earlier post, I showed a bunch of airline paint schemes that featured predominantly red tails. This time, I'll show you some that feature blue tails. Much to my surprise, when I started selecting the shots for this posting, I found that there are probably more blue tailed paint schemes than red - not what I had thought would be the case. So many, in fact, that this will be part one, with another installment to follow. I'll focus mainly on airlines in this segment.

A Singapore A340-500 just about to touch down on runway 24 Right.
This airplane has been in the air since yesterday to get here.

A couple of blue tails: An Aeroflot 767-300 (yes, Aeroflot operates Boeings!) taxis past a Lufthansa 747-400. The flight to Moscow goes over the polar ice cap.

Going through my collection, I found a number of shots of airlines that I realized aren't operating here anymore. You don't really notice that they're gone during the day-to-day operations; it's more a recognition that 'You know, I haven't seen so-and-so lately.' This Varig cargo (from Brazil, I think) DC-10 is one of those; we also used to have Varig passenger service in MD-11's. Now Korean (!) flies that route.

Here's an odd-ball: A 747SP, seen here in Saudi colors. The 747SP was Boeing's first attempt at a really long range airliner in the 1980's. It has since been surpassed by the 747-400 and the 777, along with the Airbus 330 and 340.

A Lan Chile 767-300 in the flare on runway 24 Right. Lan Peru aircraft have the exact same paint scheme; as far as I know, the only way to tell them apart is their radio callsigns.

A Mexicana A320, with Southwest's NBA special behind. Mexicana's paint scheme used to be green - same scheme, just green. Now it's dark blue.

This shot shows another no-longer-here carrier: an Aviacsa 737-200 (noisy and smoky - look at those skinny nacelles), with a WestJet (Canadian, and still here) 737 next to go.

A Polar Air Cargo 747 taxis by as a Cathay Pacific 747 rotates. These are both 400-series aircraft; the cargo version retains the short hump.

Another cargo 747-400

This one's a little special in that it's rarely seen moving during the day:
An Air Transport (cargo) DC-8 takes the runway for departure.

Another cargo 747-400, but this one's a conversion. World also operates MD-11's.

I've just recently started seeing this Spirit paint scheme;
it's a bit more colorful than their other one, seen below with an Air Tahiti Airbus
340-300 (the bane of LA departure controllers - what a dog!)

A Skywest CRJ-700 in the new United scheme takes the runway, with an Allegiant MD-80 (-83 or -88, I don't remember which) waiting its turn. Allegiant is not a regular operator here; I was fortunate to catch this shot. This is also a good comparison of the size of the CRJ versus the MD-80; there are shorter versions of each (CRJ-200 and the MD-87/B717)

I couldn't decide which of these shots to use, so you get both. United's old scheme and Continental both have a lot of blue on the tails.
Another new one: I've just started seeing this Sun Country scheme; not as colorful as their other (previous?) one, which features a multi-shade blue fuselage and orange tail.

A USAir special state scheme on this Airbus 319; before America West merged with USAir, this paint scheme was seen on an America West 757.

Big and bigger: A New Zealand 767-300 in front of a China Southern 777-200.

AeroMexico has started painting their new aircraft; this 737 still has the bare skin with blue trim.

Here are a pair of Embraer ERJ's at terminal 5: In the foreground, a Delta Connection 145 (operated by ExpressJet) showing Delta's latest paint scheme; and behind, a Costera 135 (AeroMexico regional partner). Costera also operates Saab-Fairchild 340's into LAX.