Sunday, February 23, 2014

Shot of the day: Gentle Giants

While the sight of three or four A380s together has become a normal occurrence at LAX, this pairing is not so common: an A380 and a C5A Galaxy together on the west ramp.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

All in a day's work

Something that most people probably never consider is the effect that lights can have, not just on airplanes, but controllers too. LAX leads the nation in laser hits on aircraft (and the tower!), but last night we had a different problem: What appeared to be a small sun on short final for runway 25 left. I didn't hear any complaints from the pilots, but most of us in the tower cab were dazzled by this really bright light, reportedly on a soccer (football for those of you outside North America) field. The camera doesn't really do it justice, but compare against the landing lights of the departing aircraft on runway 25 right. It took about a half-dozen phone calls to airport operations and the sheriff department to get it turned off - and then about ten minutes later, it was back on again. It stayed on for another couple of hours before someone was finally able to do something about it - or maybe the practice just ended and the players went home. Tonight it wasn't so bad, so somebody must have gotten the word that they needed to make some adjustments.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

So what is special about these pictures?

I'm going to cheat today and cover both of the "What's special" shots from earlier this week in one post. Lots of you guys had ideas for the first shot (above), including what I saw: This was the first time I can remember seeing three B777-300s side-by-side at Terminal Two. It's a daily occurrence to have two B777s, most often at gates 21 and 25. Other times, we'll have a pair of B777s at 21 and 23, with an A340 at 25. Also noteworthy, as several of you noted, is the Air Canada B777 - which is not a normal Air Canada aircraft at LAX.

A number of you figured out the second photo as well. It was a lucky shot early one morning last week; if I hadn't been in the tower at the time, I would've missed it because the opportunity only lasted for about ten or fifteen minutes. What's happening here is a test-fitting of a US Airways A321 at Terminal Three's gate 31A; so far as I know it was the first time that an A321 has been put on that gate. Prior to this point, all the carriers who've been at gate 31A have used B737s (Alaska), A320s (Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, and Virgin America), or MD-80s (Alaska and Allegiant). A few days later, US Airways moved from Terminal One to Terminal Three. Here is another sunrise shot, showing US Airways Airbuses at gates 30, 31A, 31B, and 32:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Who's who: Air France

Happy Valentine's Day! 

About a week after I decided to do this series, I learned that we're about to have a number of airlines relocate at LAX. US Airways, whom we've already seen at Terminal One, has since moved to Terminal Three.

Meanwhile, I'll resume back at Terminal Two, where the next carrier on the list is Air France. We see B777s and a daily A380 in Air France colors. The Airbus comes from Paris; the Boeings to/from Paris and Tahiti. Lately, I've only noticed Air France B777-200s, but we have had -300s as well.

At the moment, Air France's operations at LAX are split between Terminal Two and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT): The B777s operate at Terminal Two, while the A380 uses the TBIT. Like US Air, however, this will soon change, as all Air France flights will be moving to the TBIT this spring.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Who's who: Air China

Continuing our tour of Terminal Two: Air China is the only carrier offering direct service between Los Angeles and Beijing, China. Within the past year, Air China has transitioned from the B747 to new B777-300s, and added a second daily flight.

A now-unusual sight: Over the holidays, this Air China B747 passed through

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another What's special about this picture?

The response to yesterday's "special" shot has been impressive, so here's another one from just before sunrise this morning. What's special about this picture?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What's special about this picture?

So far, I don't seem to be doing nearly as well this year as last February, so while I'm working on assembling the next Terminal 2 Who's who, here's a shot of the gates on the east side of Terminal Two. I took this shot because there is something of note here; what is it?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Who's who: Air Canada


Another one of the busier carriers at Terminal Two is Air Canada, who serves five Canadian destinations from LAX. Air Canada brings in E190s, as well as A319s, A320s, and A321s. Occasionally we'll also see a B767, usually on the Toronto flight. In addition to their scheduled service, Air Canada also operates charters for the National Hockey League, transporting teams to their away games.




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Who's who: AeroMexico

Having done with Terminal One, we move on to Terminal Two. With over a dozen international air carriers, Terminal Two is essentially the second international terminal at LAX. AeroMexico is one of the busier carriers at Terminal Two, operating B737-700s and -800s. AeroMexico also has a regional partner, AeroMexico Connect, who uses Embraer E145s and E190s. While AeroMexico is easy to recognize on the radio, spotters may be thrown by AeroMexico Connect, whose "Costera" callsign is another one of the radio callsigns that has nothing to relate it to the name on the side of the airplane.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Who's who: US Airways


For the time being, US Airways is the third air carrier operating out of Terminal One. Not for much longer, though: US Air will be moving to Terminal Three later this month. The US Air radio callsign is "Cactus", which was assumed from America West when the two merged in 2005. Once the merger with American is finished, which will probably take another year, the US Air name and Cactus callsign will be retired. 


At LAX, US Air operates primarily Airbuses, mostly A319s and A321s, although we do see the occasional A320 and, even more rarely, a B757.


From LAX, US Air flies to its hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Phoenix.
A rare sighting at LAX: a pair of US Air B757s

Monday, February 3, 2014

Who's who: Southwest

Southwest is the primary carrier at LAX's Terminal One, and later this year will be the only carrier in that terminal. Southwest has been at LAX since 1982, and at present has 110 departures daily. Southwest has used various models of the B737 since the airline's inception; with a fleet of over five hundred (and a couple hundred more on order), they are the world's largest operator of the type.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Who's who: AirTran

Today I'm starting a new series that will look at the airlines that serve LAX. The intent is to answer the question Who is that? which comes up occasionally, often from folks listening on scanners or LiveATC. This isn't as easy as it sounds, as some carriers use radio callsigns that do not match the name painted on the side of the plane, and some only operate on a seasonal basis at LAX. We'll start at Terminal One and work our way around the terminals before venturing over to the cargo ramps.

We start with one of the afore-mentioned carriers whose radio callsign differs from the company name: AirTran, whose "Citrus" callsign comes from the company's Florida origins. AirTran, which is in the process of being subsumed by Southwest, is the least prominent of the three carriers at LAX's Terminal One. LAX never had a large AirTran presence, and I think we're now down to just one flight a day. Southwest has taken over the AirTran destinations out of LAX: Atlanta, Baltimore, and Milwaukee.

It's been a long time since I've seen two AirTran airplanes on the ground here at once; this shot dates back to 2012. Besides B737-700s, AirTran also operates the B717 (originally known as the MD-95 before the Boeing takeover of McDonnell Douglas). When AirTran first appeared at LAX, they flew B717s from here to DFW. For a short time, Ryan flew A320s in AirTran colors between LAX and Atlanta. Once AirTran started receiving their B737-700s, the other types disappeared from the LAX scene. An interesting note: AirTran was the launch customer for the B717, and also took delivery of the very last one built. With the Southwest takeover, the B717s will be transferred to Delta, who just a few weeks ago retired their last DC-9s. I expect the AirTran presence here will disappear completely later this year.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

More Year of the Horse

Yesterday marked the first day of the Chinese New Year, and I'm kicking off February with a look at carriers from countries outside of China that celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Singapore is represented above by their now-discontinued A340 arriving nonstop from Singapore. The LAX to Singapore route was one of the longest scheduled airline flights in the world, and the Airbus A340-500 was peculiarly suited to this very long route. Late last year, however, Singapore traded their A340-500s back to Airbus as part of a purchase of new A350s and A380s, and the service was discontinued. We still have Singapore Airlines at LAX in the form of daily A380 service to/from Tokyo that continues on to Singapore.

Thai also used to bring A340-500s into LAX, on nonstop flights from Bangkok. Nowadays, though, we see them in the form of B777s that stop in Seoul on their way to/from Bangkok:

For a few months more, LAX will see Malaysia B777s from Kuala Lumpur (via Tokyo); Malaysia reportedly will be pulling out of LAX at the end of April:

Philippines has one, and sometimes two flights a day into LAX from Manila, in either a B747-400 or an A340-300 (seen here):