Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dreamin' of a Virgin


This week we added another carrier to the list of Dreamliner operators at LAX: Virgin Atlantic has begun using a B787-9 on one of their daily flights from London Heathrow. Unlike the other B787-9 users at LAX (United and LAN, so far), Virgin didn't first show up with a B787-8 before bringing the B787-9. Virgin has had B787s since last October, and was the first European operator of the B787-9. Virgin has also ordered more Dreamliners than any other European carrier so far. With the retirement of their A340-300s, whic had a seating capacity of 240, Virgins' B787-9s are the smallest aircraft in their fleet (by passenger capacity, anyway). Virgin's B787-9s are configured for 264 passengers; the next smallest, their A330-300s, are set up for 266. This appears to be a reduction in capacity at LAX, since the Dreamliner has replaced either an A340-600, which seats 308, or a B747-400, which seats at least 367.


Check out this Virgin Atlantic Dreamliner fact sheet

Virgin Atlantic fleet

Wikipedia: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin B787-9 with an Aeroflot A330-200 touching down

With an Air China B777-300

And another Air China B777-300. If I hadn't told you that was Air China, how long would it have taken you to sort that out? Now do you see why I don't like Star Alliance paint jobs? And SkyTeam is just as bad!

Here's a rare view; how often do you get to see a Dreamliner from this angle?

The windshield is one of the distinctive features of the B787. Unlike all other current airliners, it smoothly follows the sweep of the fuselage; there is no inset or step. Compare to the other airliners shown above; the Aeroflot A330 is a particularly good example.


  1. Fabulous pictures as always, best to enlarge to get the fullest vantage.........Awesome...!!..Yes I do find the dreamliner's windshield looks different......and looks feminine.....the dark colors around it looks to a woman with beautiful eye make up on..........I need to get a life ........ha ha....but another difference the 787's have is the strobe light......that I see from my back yard ...on those dreamliners passing over Louisiana....late at night....coming from MMX..for one example.......the strobe is longer than the traditional planes that pass......Quite an exciting a nutcase Aviation geek such as my self......Thanks again for the fab friend.....♠

  2. The 787 fleet seems to build up fast.
    I like the new version of the Virgin Atlantic colors. The claim that Boeing would only deliver the aircraft with nacelles painted in grey was clearly an urban legend.
    Red seems to be a widely used color for airlines, within addition to Virgin Atlantic, Avianca and Air Canda Rouge illustrated.
    Nice architecture of the parking garage on pictures Pva1410159.JPG and Pva1410160.JPG.

    I still don't know what that thing is beyond Westchester Parkway. On the picture Pva1410161.JPG it's right above the first i in 'Virgin Atlantic' and on picture Pva1410161.JPG just vertical of the leading edge of the nacelle of the A330.
    I thought it was related to that golf course, but apparently that parcel of land is not landscaped.

    Oh, and Captainvector, the windshield of the 787 with no inset or step is not _that novel. Check out old photos of the De Havilland Comet, or the Sud Aviation Caravelle!

  3. Hello,

    Nothing to do with the 787, but I noticed that the traffic at LAX this morning reversed with planes landing from the ocean and taking off over the city. Can you do a post about this? I know it's done at night for noise, but when you switch during the day, what goes into it? What issues does this create, is it a pain to deal with, exiting to execute, or anything else? How long does it take to reverse the traffic? I once saw the Turkish 777 on the regular approach over Santa Monica toward downtown when it reversed course and landed the other way which was interesting.


    1. This is a topic for a full post someday, but the short answer is that we turn the airport around and go east if the wind forces us to; anything less than about a ten-knot tailwind will allow us to continue west traffic operations. It is a huge pain for not just us at LAX, but all other airports in the LA Basin. Approach control hates it as well because all the airspace changes, and in most cases they have much less room in which to work. The worst-case scenario is when we aren't able to orchestrate a smooth turn during a quiet period, but are instead forced to turn things around right now, with no lead time. This results in airplanes doing exactly what you saw that B777 do; now imagine what happened to the other hundred or so that were also inbound at that time. Quite likely there were airplanes being held on the ground in San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and maybe as far away as Denver while the "airborne inventory" was cleared up. Meanwhile, airplanes on the ground waiting to depart are suddenly all at the wrong end of the runway, and quite often no longer even at the right runway. Many reroutes have to be issued, making the Clearance Delivery controller suddenly the busiest person in the tower cab, with usually at least one, and often two, assistants. The whole mess normally takes a couple of hours to get cleared up, and the delays quite often run well into the evening hours -- sometimes it's not until the next day that everything gets caught up.