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


  1. They are something to watch aren't they?
    I love to watch the MU take off from the 25s. It seems like she goes and goes and finally pulls back and starts that slow slow climb out over the hill and into the sky.

    Question for you. Early Friday(27 Jan) morning, 0020-0050, we had 8, count them 8 large aircraft fly over our house following a west to east takeoff. One 777 was so low I could see cabin lights. What gives? Usually we get a cargo flight or 2 but there were AA,2 QF, UA, CP, ANA,DL and KA all in the space of 30 minutes.

    1. Strong winds out of the east will do that, as all of those flights are long hauls that are heavy, and can't tolerate any tailwind component on takeoff.


  2. On Monday, January 30, 2012
    LAX aircraft spotters' guide: Airbus A340-600

    why is there a Air New Zealand 747-400 in one photo? I thought they retired all but 1 that they only fly into San Francisco/SFO?