Monday, July 27, 2009

Who's That? Part 11- Animal Style

After all the hard studying you've been doing, this week we're going to have some fun! Suggested soundtrack: Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who's That? Part 10 - Remembrances

This week's edition was a blast from the past. Several of these carriers are no longer in operation, thanks primarily to the reduction in air travel post-September 11 and last summer's skyrocketing fuel costs. Some are just no longer seen at LAX, although they may some day return. And a few are obsolete schemes or names that have been superceded.

ATA Airlines, formerly American Trans Air, was based in Indianapolis. We used to see B753's like this one, as well as B752's and B738's. ATA was the last scheduled operator of the L1011 Tristar at LAX; I wish I had some shots of them. ATA flew from LAX to Hawaii, Indianapolis, and I think somewhere in Florida too - perhaps Clearwater/St. Petersburg. In addition to its scheduled operations, ATA also did a lot of charter work, especially transporting US military personnel. ATA was the largest charter airline in the US, and until the shutdown they carried more US troops than any other commercial carrier. It was the loss of their military contract that forced the shutdown in April, 2008. At the time of the shutdown, there were a couple of ATA aircraft on the ground at LAX. They stayed here for a few days before being ferried out. I've since seen at least one former ATA aircraft pass through LAX on its way to (or with) a new operator.

MAXjet Airways flew from LAX to London's Stansted airport using B762's. The company was based in the Washington D.C. area, but didn't actually fly there. Besides LAX, MAXjet flew from Las Vegas and New York's JFK airports to London. They also provided luxury charter services. The all business-class airline was only in operation for about two years, from 2005 to 2007. They shutdown on Christmas Eve after financing arrangements fell through. To their credit, MAXjet reportedly made a good effort to get all of their stranded passengers taken care of on other carriers.

There have been several airlines to carry the famed Pan Am logo. The original Pan Am, started in the late 1920's to carry the mail between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba, shut down in 1991. Since then, the name and logo have been sold and/or transferred to other companies. The current owner is a New England railroad: Pan Am Railways. The B727 shown here passed through LAX sometime in late 2006 or perhaps 2007; Boston-Maine Airways, the then-owner of the name, shut down in early 2008. This would have been some sort of charter flight, as they had no scheduled operations west of the Mississippi River.

Champion Air was a charter airline based at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Most of their business was vacation or sports team charters, but they were also a contractor for the Justice prisoner transport system. Champion declared bankruptcy in 2008 after losing their charter contracts to Northwest Airlines. This was the last Champion airplane I saw at LAX, about a week or so before their shutdown. The DC3 is permanently based here, on display at the LAX Flight Path learning Center

Aviacsa is based in Monterrey, Mexico, but hasn't been seen here at LAX since last year (or perhaps longer - I don't remember when they disappeared). The airline was still flying into Las Vegas, but the Mexican government grounded them in June for alleged maintenance irregularities and outstanding airspace fees. Aviacsa was the last carrier to bring in early-model B737's like this -200. Compared to the newer models, this one was smoky, noisy, and a runway hog.

LTU International, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, has merged with Air Berlin, whom we see here several times a week during the summer travel season.

This Delta Airlines scheme appeared in 1997 but only lasted for a few years before being replaced with the 'flying colors' tail in 2000. I think I took this photo in late 2007 or perhaps early 2008; by summer of 2008 all of the aircraft had been repainted. While I wasn't terribly fond of this scheme, I prefer it over the latest 'lazy widget' design.

Alitalia flew B772's into LAX for maybe a year before they disappeared in the wake of their bankruptcy last year. The Alitalia name lives on in the form of a new airline that is partly owned by Air France-KLM, but which so far has not returned to LAX.

Dublin-based Aer Lingus is the national flag carrier of Ireland, and has an all-Airbus fleet. They pulled out of Los Angeles last November. At the time we thought (hoped) they would be back in the spring, but it was not to be.

Air India was the world's first all-jet airline in 1962. They started service to LAX in 2000, and pulled out last year after merging with Indian Airlines. The new company retains the Air India name, and is based in Mumbai.

Song was a Delta Airlines brand that competed with Jet Blue out of New York's JFK airport. The service lasted for three years, being phased out in 2006. Song had a fleet of B752's in a one-class configuration; all have since been reconfigured and repainted in the new Delta livery.

Ted was a United Airlines brand that competed with Frontier out of the two airlines' Denver hub. Like Delta's Song, Ted had a one-class fleet of A320's. Also like Song, Ted has been folded into the mainline operation, although Ted lasted longer, from 2004 through early 2009.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bike Stuff

Last week, I mentioned that I'd managed to incur a bird strike on the bike. As detailed, there was no lasting damage to any of those involved, and I have yet to hear from the pigeons' lawyers. Things seem to happen in sets of three, and so today I'll wrap up the set with a couple of other bike things.

About the same time as my birdstrike, I received word from a fellow Memphis survivor, now in Austin, Texas, about his participation in the Lance Armstrong Foundation LiveStrong Challenge as part of Team ATC. I'm supporting his efforts, and invite you to do the same. Team ATC

Coincidentally, this column about bikes made from bamboo appeared on one of my favorite web sites: Bamboo bikes I've never knowingly seen a bike made of bamboo (nor a plane, for that matter). I know it's popular as a replacement for hardwood in flooring, and probably has related applications. Oddly, I've also seen it in clothing; some socks I picked up at Target a while back had bamboo fibers in them, although I couldn't tell the difference.

That's enough for now - I'd better go get on the bike before the summer heat really kicks in again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who's That? Part 10 - Tails Remembered

This week's edition is a trip down memory lane. I went through my photo archives in the old iBook and pulled out some shots of paint schemes and carriers that are no longer seen at LAX. Some because they've been superceded by new liveries, some because they don't fly into LAX nowadays, and some because they don't exist anymore.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Who's That? Part 9 - the Regionals Revealed (and revised)

Once again, I've underestimated the amount of work required to assemble the answer section of this week's edition, as demonstrated by its sheer volume. Especially since, not ten minutes after I hit the 'publish' button, I had a couple of ideas for revisions. But, finally, here it is. Enjoy!

Mesa Airlines (callsign: Air Shuttle) is a regional carrier that flies as US Airways Express out of Phoenix. Seen here in the first photo in a 50-seat CRJ2, pulling into Terminal 1's Gate 6 next to a US Airways A321, they also bring in 86-seat CRJ9s, shown in the second shot at Gate 10, next to another A321 (183 seats). In other markets, Mesa flies for other airlines, including United and Delta; while other carriers operate as US Airways Express. A couple of years ago, they also had a limited United presence here, which could create some confusion for the ground controllers at night (when the paint schemes are invisible), since United and US Airways are on opposite sides of the airport. Fortunately, that operation didn't last long.

Indianapolis-based Republic Airlines (callsign: Brickyard) was flying the daily Midwest flight to Kansas City during the winter, using E170s as Midwest Connect. Republic Airlines is owned by parent company Republic Airways, an airline holding company that also owns Midwest and Frontier, among others. The E170 has 76 seats, as compared to Midwest's B717, which has 99. The B717s will eventually be replaced with the E170's larger sibling, the E190 (seating capacity 100), which we already see at LAX in Air Canada colors - but flown by mainline Air Canada; in the picture below the two middle aircraft are E190s (93 seats), sandwiched between a pair of A319s (120 seats).

Aeromexico Connect (callsign: Costera) is a subsidiary of Aeromexico, and serves as a 'minor league' for future Aeromexico pilots - all Aeromexico pilots start out flying at AeroLitoral, which is Connect's actual name. Other carriers do the same sort of thing, but as far as I know Aeromexico only hires from its Connect pilot pool, whereas the major carriers in the US do not limit themselves to only hiring from their regional partners. Costera pilots rank just about at the bottom of the list as far as many LAX controllers are concerned; I've witnessed a number of situations where they caused or nearly caused runway incursions and/or go-arounds because the pilots couldn't understand what they were being told to do or just wouldn't do it. Fortunately, they only come in once or twice a day. To their credit, mainline Aeromexico is not nearly so bad.
Costera used to operate Saab 340s, but now only brings in 50-seat E145s.

American Eagle (callsign: Eagle Flight) is made up of three carriers, all of whom are subsidiaries of AMR, the parent company of American Airlines; and is considered to be the world's largest regional carrier system. Eagle operates a small hub at LAX, using 44-seat E140s. For a while, we had one flight a day from/to Fayetteville, Arkansas, that used a CRJ7, as seen in the second photo. This flight disappeared a few months ago, and now Allegiant serves that route. Eagle also used to operate Saab 340s here, but those thankfully all disappeared last fall. Unlike all the other regional carriers at LAX, Eagle does not park at the main terminal complex in the center of the airport. Instead, they have their own terminal adjacent to the American Airlines maintenance facility. Passengers are shuttled from Terminal Four's Gate 44, which is in reality a bus stop, shown in the third and fourth photos - the concrete baricades mark the walkway to the buses, between gates 42B and 46A. You can see the buses at the north end of the Eagle terminal (the right side of the last photo). In that same photo, the red and white piece of equipment on the service road is one of the tugs that work the A380.

Horizon Air (callsign: Horizon) is owned by Alaska Airlines' parent company, Alaska Air Group, and is based in Seattle. At one point they flew regional jets for Frontier, although not out of LAX. When that relationship ended, the Frontier-liveried aircraft occasionally showed up here on one of the regular Horizon/Alaska flights. Horizon flies Dash-8s and CRJ-700s. The Dash-8s seat 76, while the CRJ7s seat 70 and are gradually being phased out in favor of the Dash-8s. Horizon's logo, which looks to me like a funky "Q", is actually a stylized setting sun. In the last shot, which is probably a year old, you can also see an Eagle Saab 340.

Air Canada Jazz (callsign: Jazz), Canada's largest regional carrier, is based in Halifaz, Nova Scotia, although they come to LAX from Edmonton once a day. Jazz uses what appear to be CRJ9s, but are actually CRJ-705s; essentially -900s with reduced seating capacity of 75. For quite a while, this was the only service to/from Edmonton, but WestJet has recently added a flight to Edmonton, using 136-seat B737s.

From June, 2007, through the end of August, 2008, Houston-based ExpressJet Airlines (callsign: Jetlink) operated a Delta Connection hub at LAX, using 50-seat E145s and E145XRs. Most of these were in Delta's new 'lazy widget' livery, but occasionally one would show up in ExpressJet's own colors. During the same time period, ExpressJet also had their own branded airline operation, with a hub at LA/Ontario airport. This was also shut down last September, leaving just their Continental Express operations (although not here) and their charter operation under their own brand (the green-tailed livery in the last two shots). Coincidentally, my latest trainee is a former Jetlink pilot who was furloughed last fall when they reduced their operations. The second shot is a good opportunity to compare the Embraer ERJ against the Bombardier (Challenger) CRJ; that's a SkyWest CRJ7 in United colors with a Jetlink E145 in Delta livery. The E145XR can be differentiated from the other ERJs by its winglets and ventral fins beneath the tail. Likewise, a CRJ9 can be differentiated from the slightly smaller CRJ7 by its ventral tail fins, along with the -9's two over-wing exits, to the -7's one. For comparison, the third shot shows a mainline Delta MD90, which seats 150.

SkyWest Airlines (callsign: Skywest) is based in St. George, Utah, and flies out of LAX as both Delta Connection and United Express, although mostly the latter, in conjunction with United's hub here. For Delta, they operate CRJ2s, -7s, and -9s (50, 66,and 76 seats, respectively), all to/from the Delta hub in Salt Lake City. For United, they fly 30-seat E120s, along with CRJ2s and -7s. Most of these are painted in the respective mainline carrier's livery, but there are a few in SkyWest company colors; the last picture shows E120s in all three schemes we see at LAX for United-affiliated flights. Since United and Delta are on the same side of the airport at adjacent terminals, and the flight numbers for the Delta and United SkyWest flights are usually completely different, our ground controllers normally aren't challenged by where to take SkyWest airplanes.