Saturday, July 6, 2013

Current Events

The night of July 4th is always a sight to behold from the tower, as the city becomes a carpet of fireworks. I shot this short video to give you a taste of it, but you'll have to take my word for it because the video really doesn't do it justice. From before sundown until when I left at one in the morning, there were fireworks going off all over the city. Incoming pilots remarked that it looked like a war zone.

As I write this on Saturday afternoon, the investigation has barely begun on the Asiana crash landing in San Francisco. I don't know anything more than what is publicly available on CNN and other media outlets. I can tell you that some aircraft that had been destined for San Francisco diverted to LAX when SFO was closed; here are shots of two of them, both aircraft types that we don't get to see at LAX from these carriers very often:

Air New Zealand 8
United 72


  1. In the aftermath of an event such as the crash at SFO, those other aircraft have to go someplace! Regional, domestic flights have more options, but large international flights still need international entry facilities and logistical support for possibly hundreds of pax. If they have the fuel and receive an early warning, LAX is a good alternative. I have to wonder about the options available to flights due to arrive at SFO in the first 60-90 minutes after the closure. You folks must have plans for that sort of thing. If the situation has been reversed, at least LAX has two 'sets' of runways, far enough apart that one pair should remain operational. However, with all of the emergency response equipment and personnel committed to a crash event, would/could that alone cause the entire airport to close for a while?

    1. During the first hour or so, a number of flights diverted to other bay area airports, namely Oakland and San Jose. I heard that some ended up at Sacramento, and we got some as well - although not as many as we first expected.

      A similar sort of event at LAX (heaven forbid) would most likely shut off the affected side, while the other side would struggle to accommodate the sudden overload of traffic. Emergency vehicles have a number of access points, so we probably would not have to completely close the airport beyond the initial response period. Departure delays would be considerable, and inbound aircraft would be put into holding pstterns -- and some would end up having to divert to other airports as they run low on fuel.

      In the Los Angeles area, air carrier aircraft have a choice of alternate airports: Burbank, Long Beach, Orange County, and Ontario. Some might head down to San Diego, although that airport does not have a lot of capacity to absorb extra airplanes. If things got severe enough, Las Vegas and Phoenix would be possible alternates as well.

  2. I know that Lufthansa's SFO-bound A380 landed at Oakland, stayed there for a couple hours, then made a 20 minute ferry flight KOAK-KSFO. ...and to top it off, they landed on SFO's runway 9-- blue moons occur more frequently than a/c landing on 9.