Friday, July 14, 2017

Photo Friday: Airport update

A recent comment inquired about construction on the airport, so I'll start by showing you some of what's going on in that department. The opening photo was taken this past Sunday, and shows the tower's view of the west part of the airport. Progress is well underway on the Midfield Concourse project, which you can see just over the roof of the TBIT to both sides of the center mall structure. One fairly new development is the chunk taken out of the American maintenance ramp; American no longer can go around their hangar on their own ramp -- if an aircraft needs to reposition from one side to the other, it has to come out onto the taxiway system to get there. You can also see that Gate 131, which opened just last year, now doesn't exist. The Delta B777 at the right edge of the photo is at Gate 133. What you can't see is that on the opposite side of the TBIT, Gate 132 has suffered a similar fate. Both of these gates have been temporarily taken out to make access for the tunnel project that will connect the TBIT and the new Midfield Concourse. There will be two tunnels; one for passenger access and the other for utilities and baggage. These tunnels will run beneath Taxiways S & T. Originally there had been a proposal for a pedestrian skybridge to connect the two terminals, but there were issues with how high it would have to be in order for aircraft to pass beneath it. At one point there was also a proposal to put a new control tower on top of that, but it got shot down pretty early in the process. In the far distance, just left of center, you can see the new Qantas maintenance hangar at the far west end of the airport. This is located on the West Airport Maintenance Area, normally called "WAMA" on the radio. This hangar can hold an A380, and replaced the old TWA hangar that had to make way for the Midfield Concourse and Taxiway T projects. The photo below, taken just a couple of weeks before the first, gives an idea of how quickly progress is being made.

In this third photo, along with the opening shot, which was taken at the same time, you can see that the ground controllers have their hands full. Also visible is the revamped helipad on the roof of the Terminal 4 parking garage. No longer does LAX have a public-access heliport in the middle of the airport; this pad is for emergency use only. I understand that there were security concerns about the easy access of the previous arrangement, but I rather suspect that the driving factor behind the closure was the additional revenue gained from the hundred-something parking spaces created when the heliport was closed.

One of the upsides to the Delta Airlines relocation to the north side is the more flexible arrangement for handling traffic in the D-9 alley (Between Terminals 2 & 3). This alley is normally controlled by Delta ramp control, and it has been remarked to allow two streams of narrow-body traffic, as seen here.
Another bit of Delta news is the recent appearance of Delta A321s

And now, some recent arrivals:

Finally, a recent proposal to reduce taxiway congestion at LAX and other busy airports around the world: the piggy-back taxi system!


  1. With Delta's relocation, will their east coast bound NYC flights still use 25R/L for departure? That is a long taxi.

    1. Short answer: Yes. Sometimes. Maybe. It depends.

      To keep this from becoming TLDR, I'll work on putting together a post that addresses this facet of LAX operations. In brief: An aircraft's departure runway assignment is determined by a combination of factors: What departure procedure (SID) has been assigned, the aircraft's operational requirements, where it's parked on the airport, what flow restrictions we have for departures, the current weather conditions, which runways are in use, what taxiways are available, what traffic adjacent airports have, how busy the ground and tower controllers are, whether there are any special considerations to be taken into account, and probably a few other things that will come to mind after I hit the publish button.

      There have always been times that aircraft parked on the north side have been sent to the south side for departure, although the reverse (south to north) is more common. Yes, it is a long taxi, and the route is often subject to delays. Now that Delta is on the north side, we actually are doing it more frequently than before.