Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Qantas A380 arrives

After years of anticipation, yesterday saw the arrival of the first Airbus A380 in regular scheduled service at LAX. Qantas flight 93 from Melbourne arrived a little before 7:30 in the morning. After unloading and servicing the aircraft, it was towed over to the Imperial Terminal on the south side of the field for some festivities. Also on hand for the show was John Travolta's B707, which is painted in the scheme of Qantas' first jetliner. As I had had the mid-shift that morning, I didn't stick around for all of the show-and-tell stuff. It was a gray and overcast morning, not ideal for pictures, but here are a few:

Gate 101 at the International Terminal is one of two at that terminal that have been reconfigured to accommodate the A380. Here, the tug is being hooked up for the final 100 feet or so to the gate. This is procedure is not limited to the big Airbus; most other heavies also get towed onto this gate, as they do for most other gates at LAX. There are, so far, four gates at LAX set up for the big Airbus: the two at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), and another two out at the west remote gates. The remote gates are gates in name only - they're really nothing more than hardstands with jetways that lead down to bus stops. Passengers get bussed to and from the TBIT. The long-term plan is to add more gates to the west side of the TBIT. There's also talk that Virgin Atlantic wants to bring their A380's to terminal two or three.

John Travolta's B707. As you can tell from the lighting, I actually took this shot the evening before, while the airplane was still on Atlantic Aviation's ramp. Later, it was towed over to the Imperial Terminal ramp for the inaugural festivities.

In this shot, the A380 is now in position at gate 101, and unloading has begun. For a sense of scale, look at the ground crew and vehicles. That's a B767 in the alley.

The International Terminal, with Terminal Four in the foreground. The A380 is on the corner (gate 101); the other Qantas jet at gate 104 is a B747, which arrived a few minutes before the Airbus. You can just see the top of the tail of another Qantas B747 parked at gate 41. That American tail sticking up next to it is the B767 in the previous photo. On the opposite side is an MD80 at gate 40, and a B757 at gate 42A.

Another comparison shot, actually taken while the A380 was still being pulled onto the gate, shows an MD80 waiting to leave the alley. That tail on the far left is a B767.


  1. WOW! It already looked big; then I blew the pictures up....How many passengers can it hold? And crew?


  2. Is that a "normal" tug pulling the airbus? It looks too small to move such a mammoth machine.