Monday, January 30, 2012

LAX aircraft spotters' guide: Airbus A340-600

A recent comment included the following question: "Does any carrier fly an A340-600 into LAX?" Why yes, they do. Three carriers bring in a total of four A340-600s each day at LAX.

On its website, Airbus touts the A340-600 as the longest airliner in operation (although the new Boeing 747-8 now beats it at 250 feet long). With a length of 247 feet (75.3 meters) and a wingspan of 208 feet (63.5 meters), its size presents some difficulties at LAX. I've mentioned A346s and the challenges they represent at LAX before, so I'll let that go except to say that thankfully we only get four of them each day. The A346 has a range of 7,900 miles (14,600 km) and a maximum passenger capacity of 475, although a more typical seating configuration would be about 380. Each of the carriers using A346s at LAX has a different seating capacity, and all are considerably less than the advertised maximum. According to Wikipedia, Airbus has recently wrapped up the A340 program as all ordered aircraft have been delivered. The reported 2011 price for a new A340-600 was $275 million or €190 million.

The first A340-600 we see each day arrives from Shanghai, China. China Eastern was the first Chinese airline to purchase Airbuses, and has five A346s, which are configured for 322 passengers. The flight from Shanghai takes ten to eleven hours, while the return trip is about fourteen hours.

With a Skywest E120 Brasilia and a Delta (former Northwest) B747-400

With an American B767-300

From the archives: With an Air France A340-300 (Air France no longer brings A340s into LAX). The A343 is a relatively poor performer in the terminal environment; it's a real dog on climb-out. Not so the A346; notice the much larger engine cowlings on the -600.

China Eastern in SkyTeam colors

With a pair of B737s: Above, a Southwest -700; Below, an Alaska -800

Virgin Atlantic operates two A340-600s into LAX each day from London's Heathrow airport. Virgin's A346s carry 308 passengers, and Virgin has currently has nineteen of them, although there are plans to reduce that number. Used Airbus, anyone?

From the archives: With a Northwest B757-200

With a LAN B767-300

Sandwiching in-between a pair of B777-300s, with a CRJ9 waiting to get in

Almost the same scenario, except with the new paint on Virgin (and old on Air France) and New Zealand is in a B747-400

Our final A340-600 arrives after an eleven-hour flight from Munich, Germany. Lufthansa is the only carrier offering direct service between LAX and Munich. Lufthansa has two dozen A346s, each with a seating capacity of 306.

With a British Airways B747-400


Airbus Industries A340-600

Wikipedia: Airbus A340

China Eastern Fleet Information A340-600

Wikipedia: China Eastern Airlines

Lufthansa Fleet A340-600

Wikipedia: Lufthansa

Virgin Atlantic Our Fleet

Wikipedia: Virgin Atlantic

Friday, January 27, 2012

I never get tired of this

You just gotta love the view from the tower!

Looking out east at the finals: Landing all four runways; all those "stars" are airplanes

Friday, January 20, 2012

Buncha Heavy Jets

When I arrived at the tower yesterday, several of my coworkers pointed out the Air New Zealand B777 parked at Terminal 2. I've shown you an A320 or two with this paint, but I didn't know we were going to get to see it on anything else. While I waited in vain for the aircraft to push off the gate, the opportunity for this group photo of four B777s (and an A346) arose. New Zealand ended up not pushing until after dark, so I'm glad I at least got this shot. In the meantime, this happened:

Gratuitous heavy jet photo:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Our new taxiways

Not quite a year ago, LAX got a brand-new taxiway: Romeo, which runs North-South past several of the maintenance ramps west of the terminal complex. At about the same time we got Romeo, we lost Quebec and later Sierra, which also ran North-South, but along the west side of the International Terminal. Quebec is gone forever, lost to the remodeling of the TBIT, but the relocated Sierra opened up last month, somewhat west of its original location. Here are a couple of aerial photos of our new taxiways. The opening photo is shot from the Southeast; that's Terminal 4 in the foreground. The thing that looks like a checkerboard in the lower right is the main entry hall of the TBIT, where the check-in desks and Customs facilities are located. You can also see how close the west end of the airport is to the shoreline: that's the Pacific Ocean at the top of the shot.

This shot was taken from the Northwest, and shows the taxiways themselves. Sierra is the wide one on the left, while Romeo is the narrower one on the right. Right in the middle is the Qantas maintenance ramp with two A380s and a B747. On the right side of the picture, adjacent to Romeo, can be seen a pair of Virgin Australia B777-300s and an American B777-200; those parking positions are known as the "Romeo gates." The white-roofed building adjacent to the Romeo gates is the Coast Guard station; one of their helicopters can be seen on the ramp. On the left side of the photo is the International Terminal, which is having gates added along the west side. Eventually, the aircraft parked on these gates will push onto taxiway Sierra, creating a bottleneck for the ground controllers.

I don't have a new airport diagram handy, but here's how the new taxiways appear on our ground radar:

North is at the top of this presentation, so we're looking at the entire northern part of the airport, and a bit of the southern side; Romeo and Sierra are right in the middle of the picture.

From their positioning behind the terminal and maintenance hangars, you might surmise that we can't see aircraft on much of these taxiways from the tower, and you would be correct. We can see a bit of each end of Romeo, as well as a section in the middle:

The north end of Romeo: A US Airways Airbus turns from Delta onto Romeo

A retiring American B777 captain receives a salute from the LAX fire crews at the mid-point of taxiway Romeo (this is about the location of Checkpoint 2, which is the frequency changeover point on the South Route)

Sierra is going to be just as bad, or maybe even worse:

Now you see it . . .

. . . and now you don't. And that's the biggest airliner around.

The north end of Sierra: a United Airbus turns from Sierra onto Delta

There are two aircraft on Sierra in the following shot: an American and a United. Can you spot them?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

About that standoff . . .

While the Standoff! entry produced a gratifying number of comments, I have to admit that both shots were photographic sleight-of-hand; neither was an actual "Golden Towbar" moment. Several of you correctly noted the tugs on the B757s in the first photo; both aircraft were inbound to gates while the Great Lakes Beech 1900 held at the bottom of the alley - for about ten minutes, as it turned out.

The second photo was a matter of timing; had I snapped another one ten seconds later, it would have been clearly visible what was happening. Alas, I didn't. I did, however, take a number of other shots about the same time. Some earlier, and some a few minutes later, and the Hawaiian Airbus happens to appear in a few of them. The sequence starts with the opening shot (above), which shows the Air France B777 pushing out of gate 25. Because of its size and the position of the gate, the aircraft is not pushed into the D-8 alley, but instead out of the alley onto taxiway Delta. The ground controller, knowing that he has Hawaiian inbound to gate 27, has the Air France jet push all the way past that gate so that Hawaiian can get in while Air France disconnects:

Hawaiian taxis by on Echo as Air France pushes on Delta, adjacent to gate 28, which is where the catering truck is parked; you can see the lead-in line for gate 28 underneath Air France's right engine

Hawaiian makes a right U-turn at D-8 . . .

. . . and prepares to pull into gate 27. You can see the lead-in line for gate 27 just to the left of the pair of light poles in front of Hawaiian. Alternatively, look at the catering truck on the access road and then drop your eyes straight down towards the corner of the terminal, where you can also see the stowed jetway

A few minutes later, while Air France takes the runway for departure, Air New Zealand does the same thing from gate 21 that Air France did from gate 25: pushes out of the D-8 alley onto taxiway Delta

Mere moments afterwards, while Air France starts down the runway and New Zealand continues to push onto Delta, we start to see Hawaiian now parked at gate 27

And here, some minutes later, we get a better view of Hawaiian at gate 27 while New Zealand waits for Eva to taxi past. Just for fun, here's a similar shot from another day:

Hawaiian again is on gate 27, but this time New Zealand called first and has pushed onto taxiway Delta. Subsequently, Air France called for push and the ground controller made an unusual (and gutsy) decision to have Air France push onto taxiway Echo. Until one of these two is ready for taxi, they constitute a road block, since there's no way for the ground controller to get another aircraft past them. One other interesting thing: Compare the old Air France livery in this photo to the new one in the earlier shots. Apparently Air France is now one word!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The C-1 ramp

In an entry last month, I mentioned that the C-1 ramp had been re-marked to accommodate two heavy jets. Here are a couple of additional views; one aerial and the other as seen from the tower. In the aerial shot (above), there's an Air New Zealand B744 on its layover. It will be towed to a gate at Terminal 2 later in the evening for its subsequent departure to Auckland. At the top of the shot, you can see a UPS B763 parked on the B-1 ramp. The following less-than-ideal shot from the tower shows a Cargo King B772 and a Cathay Pacific B744, and is so far the only shot I've been able to get of two aircraft on the C-1 ramp at one time (it happens more often at night). Beyond the Cargo King B772, you can see a Delta A332 parked on the B-1 ramp, awaiting its turn to be towed to the terminal.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fun with fog III

The previous fog postings have been at night, but we get fog in the mornings too.

Looking west over the TBIT

Looking down Century Blvd to the east

Southeast: The top of the LA County courthouse, recent home of Lindsay Lohan.

Looking to the north