Monday, March 31, 2014

Revealed: What's wrong with this picture?

A good number of you responded to this edition of WWWTP. Thanks to one and all for once again demonstrating the popularity of this series. I regret that it has lately become a rarity. So, what is wrong with this picture? I'll start by showing you a shot from a minute or so before the picture in question:

Although it's not critical to the story, it does provide a little background. Here we see a couple of aircraft on Taxiway E, waiting to depart, while an El Al B777 is about to touch down on Runway 24  Left. Southwest is first, holding short of Taxiway V, with an Emirates A380 behind. Here are a couple more shots, unrelated except that they show how most aircraft access Runway 24 Left via Taxiway E for departure:

The yellow chevrons on the concrete behind JetBlue indicate an area that, while paved, is not part of the runway, and which is not available for aircraft use.
 Now back to our story:

This photo best illustrates what happened here: the A380 has gone past Taxiway V, which is the entry point for Runway 24 Left departures. Taxiway E does continue on, which can (as in this case) mislead pilots into thinking that they have not yet reached the full length of the runway. To illustrate, refer to this LAX airport diagram:

This is the specific part of the diagram, showing the east end of the north complex:

As you can see, Taxiway E runs parallel to Runway 24 Left, and Taxiway V is the entry to the beginning of both Runways 24 Left and Right. However, Taxiway E continues beyond Taxiway V to reach Taxiways D7 and E7. Taxiway D7 gives access to the east side of Terminal One, while Taxiway E7 goes around the approach end of Runway 24 Left to intersect Taxiway V between the runways. So far, so good. Now, however, take a look at this diagram:

This diagram shows the permissible runways and taxiways for A380 and B747-800 aircraft movements at LAX. Take a moment to read the "Movement areas" note, then take a look at this piece of the same diagram:

As above, this specific piece of the diagram shows the east end of the north complex. Both runways are shown in green, indicating that they are suitable for A380 operations. Taxiway V and Taxiway E west of Taxiway V are also green. Here's the catch: the green portion of Taxiway E stops at Taxiway V. While other aircraft can taxi past Taxiway V and turn on D7 or E7, A380s can not go beyond that point because there is insufficient wingtip clearance and pavement strength. So, as several of you noted, this has to happen:


Meanwhile,  subsequent departures are obligated to use Taxiway E8 to access the runway, as seen here:

Finally, about fifteen minutes later, the tug's duty is done and the A380 is in a position to enter the runway:

As several of you said, this is not the first time that this has happened, nor the first time I've shown it to you. Nearly every day at LAX, a pilot misses the entry point for Runway 24 Left. The difference is that nearly any other airplane can utilize D7 or E7 to recover.

Bonus points for those who noted the Airbus family photo!


  1. In the picture Plx1210680.JPG about the A380 permissible areas, I notice that taxyway Sierra is not coloured green. Is this an old diagram? I also seem to recall that the first visit of an A380, which coincided with an American Airlines 757 emergency, the aircraft was parked on a Southern ramp, possibly at the Imperial Terminal. This is also not indicated on your picture.
    Is there a separate pic for 747-8s? I guess many cargo jets have allready visited the South Cargo complex, some of those stands must be dedicated!
    Also, fifteen minutes to get a tug! Where are they parked and how fast ( or rather how slow) are they?

  2. Have you seen this? Awesome photo composite showing LAX takeoffs.