Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My day off

It's my one day off this week, and yet here I am at the tower. It's like one of those recurring bad dreams - even when I'm not at work, I'm at work. Except that it's intentional this time, and I really do have a purpose.

As I mentioned last month, LAX has been anticipating the commencement of service by Emirates Airlines, from the U.A.E. Scheduled service is to start next month, but yesterday they brought in an Airbus A380 on a promotional tour. This was the first A380 to appear at LAX in an airline paint scheme since the original first visit, which I believe was in Singapore colors. Come to think of it, this was the first A380 we've had here all year - the last visit was in November of last year, and that aircraft was in Airbus factory colors. Singapore was the launch customer for the A380, and they've been flying the first production aircraft for nearly a year now, I believe.

I wasn't in the tower yesterday when the Airbus arrived, as the information about it's arrival had not filtered up to the tower cab by the time I left on Monday. So, by the time I got to work, it was already on the ground and parked with its tail pointed right at the tower - not any airplane's best angle. Apparently the arrival was a spectacle, although not just because of the A380 itself. There were news crews and helicopters on site in preparation for the arrival, and they got the scoop of the day when an American 757 which had departed for Hawaii declared an emergency due to fumes and smoke in the cabin. The 757 landed on runway 7 left, which happens to be opposite direction - basically shutting down the entire airport. Even after the landing, the south side remained shut down to accommodate the evacuating passengers and emergency crews. The captain stopped the plane on the runway and ordered an emergency evacuation - with all the news cameras rolling. On live TV could be seen the chutes deploying and passengers then sliding down them to the ground and the awaiting rescue crews. Here are a couple of links for video clips of the evacuation:

While looking for those clips, I also found this one, which has both the American and then the A380's landing:

This morning's trip to the tower was to catch the A380's departure, which was managed without fanfare. Besides the sheer size of the thing, the other thing that is striking is how quiet it is - El Segundo has no basis for complaint about this airplane's noise. Even at takeoff power, it was amazing quiet - much less noise than the other jets that departed before and after. The sneaky thing about this promotional flight is that Emirates' regular scheduled service at LAX will be in B777's - not the A380. Our first scheduled service is to be
later this year with Qantas, who ran full-page newspaper ads over a month ago. Anyway, on to the photo spread:
The tower view of the parked A380, with a Frontier A319 in the foreground
A Qantas B747-400 exits 25 Left
Fedex DC-10 departs
The A380 pushing back onto taxiway A as an American MD83 arrives.
You can see the museum's DC-3 in the background.
Another shot showing the DC-3. Now there's a size comparison!
Another indicator of the size of the Airbus: look at the police cars!
A Skywest CRJ-700 departs. That's Chevron's El Segundo refinery in the background.
It produces a lot of the jet fuel used at LAX - there's a pipeline
from the refinery to the airport fuel facility.
Here's a Skywest E-120 Brasilia on the new center taxiway.
Another Airbus 319 - this one in the new Spirit Wings scheme.An American B767 lifts off as the A380 taxis out
Yet another A319 - this one in Mexicana colors
Up, up, and . . .Away they go!

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