Monday, January 25, 2010

Wake Turbulence: Part 3.3 - Airbus Heavy Jets

This time, I'll continue the Wake Turbulence series with a look at heavy jets produced by Airbus. A relative newcomer to the commercial aircraft field, Toulouse-based Airbus has given Boeing some strong competition; the two companies currently share the large commercial aircraft market roughly equally. Even so, compared to the Boeing section, I haven't nearly the same variety of Airbus shots. Admittedly, however, we don't have anywhere near the number of heavy Airbus operators here (less than a dozen) as we do Boeing users. The weather here in LA has been decidedly unsuitable for photographing airplanes lately, so I've been digging through my archives to find more shots to show you - thus the delay in continuing the series.


The largest of the heavy Airbuses, the A340-600 is currently the longest airliner in production. Takeoff weight: 810,000 lb (368,000 kilograms). This airplane is so long that we have special restrictions at LAX about which taxiway intersections the airplane can use. In addition, when an A346 lands on runway 24 right, that runway becomes unusable for the next arrival or takeoff until the A346 has crossed runway 24 left; it's too big to hold between the runways at the usual exit (we have the same considerations for the B777-300, which is nearly as long).

The A340-500 was, for a time, the world's longest-range airliner (it has since been surpassed by the B777-200 LR). There are two carriers that bring A345's into LAX, and both operate very long routes: Singapore and Bangkok are each 17 or 18 hours away, depending upon the winds. I've heard that Thai has their fleet of -500's up for sale, so if you've been itching for a late-model long-range airliner, you may be able to get a good deal. Take-off weight: 820,000 lb (372,000 kilograms).

The -300 was the first of the A340 family and is the most prevalent model of A340;
more -300's have been built than all the other versions combined. Maximum take-off weight: 610,000 lb (276,500 kilograms).

The -200 is the smallest member of the A340 family, and not common: only a bit over two dozen were produced. None of LAX's scheduled carriers bring in 342's; I think this one does VIP service. Maximum take-off weight 610,000 lb (275,000 kilograms).

A330: The largest of the twin-engine Airbuses is not a regular sight at LAX. Aer Lingus has pulled out, while Air Berlin considers Los Angeles a seasonal (summer) destination. Qantas has brought one in on occasion, usually on the Auckland route. When they started becoming part of Delta, Northwest began bringing them through LAX enroute to the paint shop in Victorville. That has pretty much wrapped up, so we don't see them much anymore. All models share a maximum takeoff weight of 510,000 lb (233,000 kilograms).

The A330-200 is the shorter-body but longer-range model, most often seen at LAX

The longer A330-300 has only come here in Northwest and Delta colors


The A300, the original Airbus model and the world's first twin-engine wide body, at LAX is only seen in freighter service. Takeoff weight: 378,500 lbs (171,700 kg). Approximately the same size and appearance as a B767; the easy spotting details are the shape of the tailcone (on the B767, the upper and lower surfaces taper, while on the A300 the top is straight and the bottom slants up) and the placement of the nosegear (behind the cockpit on the Airbus, beneath it on the Boeing).

The A310 is a shortened version of the A300. FedEx is the only operator of A310's at LAX. Maximum takeoff weight 361,600 lb (164,000 kg).

Link to previous part: McDonnell Douglas Heavy Jets

Link to next part: Other Heavy Jets


  1. If I were to buy a Thai Airbus, do you think they'd repaint it for me?


  2. What, you don't like purple and white with a gold stripe? Maybe that's why they can't sell them!

    That picture was one of the ones I was searching for, as Thai normally arrives and departs LA during hours of darkness. The closure of the Bangkok airports by protesters in late 2008 messed up Thai's schedule for a few days, and for once I was able to get a daytime shot.

  3. Probably looks better in the dark.