Friday, May 11, 2018

Photo Friday: Double Feature!

When I saw this out the window yesterday, it took me a moment to realize that while I've seen this special Alaska-Virgin America paint before, it wasn't on this airplane.

Continuing with a variation of that theme, I'll now show you this airplane, which you've also seen before:

Just as you've previously seen the red & blue paint -- albeit on a different aircraft; I've shown you this aircraft before as well -- and, as it happens, in the same post. That time, however, it looked like this:

EDIT:  Except that they are not, in fact the same aircraft. I mis-read the registrations and thought that the Most West Coast airplane had been redone with the Giants markings. In reality, they are consecutive registrations. I believe that that Virgin America A321s are the first A321neos at LAX.

Bonus shot of another aircraft that has appeared here before:

Since I missed last week's edition of Photo Friday, this week's is a double feature. Anybody see anything wrong with the new Air Canada paint?

The new Air Canada livery on a new B737 Max 8. Air Canada is the second carrier to bring the B737 Max to LAX; Southwest has had them here since January

In case it's not obvious, here are a few hints:

I'm guessing that either Delta and Air Canada went in half-and-half on a paint order, or one of them is picking up surplus planes from the other. If it's not one of those, perhaps Air Canada is now a subsidiary of Delta and is taking on the parent company colors (or vice-versa, I suppose). In any case, this gets my vote for the worst idea for a new livery since the SkyTeam and Star Alliance liveries were introduced:

As a tower controller, air carrier paint schemes are an important tool in identifying aircraft when I'm looking out the window. Any of these liveries causes confusion when trying to make a traffic call because it's not immediately obvious who one of these airplanes belongs to. Yes, if you look closely enough, each of them actually does have the actual airline name on it somewhere, but it's comparatively inconspicuous relative to the rest of the aircraft's markings. At night especially, these paint schemes are problematic because they become more difficult to identify. A controller or another pilot should not have to spend conscious effort studying an aircraft just to figure out who it belongs to. Where this matters is when a controller tells a pilot to "Follow the Delta from your left" or some similar instruction. If the pilot receiving that instruction doesn't see the Delta name in small lettering under the windows, perhaps because from their vantage point only the rear half of the SkyTeam (Delta) airplane is visible, then they won't be able to identify that it's the airplane that they're supposed to follow. Then they sit there blocking the taxiway, waiting to follow an airplane that is already long gone. 

This is enough of a problem that I teach ground controllers in training to identify the subject airplane as "Star Alliance" or SkyTeam" when making traffic calls instead of using the carrier name because that's what the pilot that they're talking to is going to see out his cockpit window. Am I being pedantic? Perhaps. Does it make for more effective traffic calls and lead to less pilot confusion? Yes, absolutely. The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is at night, when I can't see the airplane a mile away at the other end of the airport, and thus can't tell that it wears Star Alliance or SkyTeam colors. Then we're back to square one, in which I refer to the airplane by its company name because that's the information available to me on the flight strip and/or the radar display. 

While the new Air Canada paint scheme does clearly say Air Canada on the side and have the Maple Leaf logo on the tail, the overall livery is so similar to the current Delta livery that we often misidentify it when looking out the window. So that's a big thumbs down for the new Air Canada paint scheme. Rant over!

As a reward for putting up with all of that, here's a fun shot:

No, I didn't Photoshop this; that's really what it says on the side of this Volaris Airbus!

As I alluded to in the caption of the Air Canada B737 Max 8 photo, Southwest was the first carrier to bring the B737 Max to LAX. Here is one of those first B737 Max 8s seen at LAX, taken in early January of this year:

Southwest was the first to bring the B737 Max to LAX; this shot was taken during the first week that we started to see them. The most obvious spotting point from this angle is the shape of the tailcone and APU exhaust. Compared to the adjacent B737-700, the Max has a longer taper to its tailcone. An unfortunate side effect  of this new tailcone is its greater resemblance to the A320-series' tailcone.

On the subject of Southwest, it's time for a construction update:

Southwest has opened up Gate 14, and work is now progressing on Gate 12. In this shot, we see Gates 14, 16, and 18A occupied on this side, and continuing clockwise, Gates 17B, 17A, and 15  occupied on the other side.
Meanwhile, on the Terminal 2 side of the alley, Gate 23 has re-opened while Gate 25 is now getting some work

Friday, April 27, 2018

Photo Friday: Three of a kind

We don't see that many of the small regional jets at LAX these days. The 70-seat CRJ-700 is common in American Eagle, United Express, and Delta Connection colors. Coincidentally, in all three cases the flights are operated by SkyWest. We also have CRJ-900s (76 seats), but only in Delta Connection paint -- but still using the SkyWest callsign. In this shot, however, we have a trio of CRJ-200s. SkyWest operates these as well; witness the paint on the third one in line. All of these are flying for United Express. The three of them together have less passenger capacity (50 passengers each, for a total of 150) than the China Eastern B777 (316).

Friday, April 20, 2018

Photo Friday: Qantas Boeings

This weeks' edition of Photo Friday features a pair of Qantas Boeings. A B787-9, freshly-arrived from Melbourne, waits as a B747-400 departs from Runway 24 Left enroute to New York JFK.

Bonus shot: The next Runway 24 Right arrival was this Delta B767-300:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Construction update: D8 and Terminal 1.5

The big construction news at LAX is the on-going construction of a new terminal and the continuing reconstruction of one of the runways. But there's more than that; Southwest is still busy renovating Terminal One and construction has begun on a connector between Terminals One and Two. This has been designated Terminal 1.5, although there are no new gates associated with it. The opening shot was taken on New Years Day, 2018. The following shot was taken about two weeks later:

The next shot was taken in February. In it, we can see that some of the new concrete is in place for Gate 14, while the wall between Terminals One and Two has been breached:

The fourth and fifth shots were taken three weeks apart; the opening shot in late March, and the lower one in mid April. In just that short time span, you can see that Southwest is nearly done with Gate 14, and the temporary baggage sorting tent in what used to be Gate 4 has been taken away. Meanwhile, in March we lost Gate 21B (as seen above in shot #4), but then regained it in April at the expense of losing Gate 23:

Friday, April 13, 2018

Photo Friday: Mad Dog!


I made a couple of posts last year about the diminishing number of MD-80s at LAX; see links below. Since then, the MD-80 has almost completely disappeared from the LAX scene. Allegiant was the last regular MD-80 operator here, and their LAX flights have now all transitioned to the Airbus 319. A few evenings ago, however, we had an unexpected visitation from a Delta MD-90. In the early 2000s, Delta operated MD-90s at LAX, but it's been quite some time since we've seen one. Thanks to a last-minute equipment change in Minneapolis, I happened to catch this one when it passed through.

In these next two shots, you can clearly see the family connection between the MD-90 and the B717, which was originally intended to be the MD-95 before Boeing took over McDonnell Douglas:

 Links to related previous posts:

Really not just another RJ

So long, Mad Dog

Photo Friday: The Mad Dog lives!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Photo Friday: Southwest Louisiana paint

Southwest has been doing special state-themed liveries for quite some time now, and the latest one is for the state of Louisiana. A bit of explanation might be in order: the Louisiana state bird is the Brown Pelican. This B737 is painted similar to the Louisiana state flag, which features a white pelican with a nest of three chicks. Union, Justice, Confidence  is the Louisiana state motto and also appears on the state flag and seal.

Here's a bonus shot for Filip, who asked recently about the blast fence at the west end of Runway 24 Left. This is how that end of the north complex appears from the tower. As a double bonus, you can also see the current state of the construction on the Midfield Satellite Concourse:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Remote Gates, revisited

Nearly seven years ago, I made a post inspired by the viewing statistics of the blog:

The amazing thing is that, seven years later, that post is the second-most popular post of all time.Even now, it gets a couple of dozen visits every week. Most, but not all, come from a forum post at in which a question was asked about the gate numbers at the LAX west remote gates. The reason I tell you all of this is because it occurred to me that we are using a revised version (seen above) of the quick reference guide that I showed in that 2011 post.

Beyond that, I don't have much new to say about the west remote gates. At a quick glance, pretty much everything I said about them in 2011 still holds true except that we now have six (instead of four) remote gates that can accommodate the A380. We rarely use them though because the remodeled TBIT can handle six A380s at one time. In fact, the most common place at the remotes that we use for an A380 isn't a gate at all: Recently, the airport has been closing a section of Taxiway E-17 to store an idle A380 between flights. On the chart above, it's the section of E-17 directly above the green and orange boxes. The A380 tows into that position from Taxiway AA, and to get out it has to push backwards either into E-16 (and then pull forward) or all the way back onto AA. I haven't any photos of that because it pretty much always happens in the late evening. I can, however, show you how we designate the closed area on our ground radar display:

* - The all-time most popular post is this one:

Friday, March 30, 2018

Photo Friday: Blue Moon Rising

For full moon fans, 2018 is a special year: Not one, but two blue moons occur this year. The first, featured here, was in January, and was also noteworthy for being a supermoon. In some circles it was known as the Super Blue Blood Moon. The second blue moon of 2018, and the last one until October of 2020, occurs this weekend.

As the moon rose behind the Runway 24 Right final, it became a game to see if I could catch an arrival just as it passed in front of the moon:

I managed to get two arrivals as they passed through the moon, but they're almost impossible to see (enhanced versions can be seen farther down):

Here are tweaked versions of the earlier two shots to make them a bit more visible:

I had forgotten about this until I was going through these photos, but January's full moon was also noteworthy because it was concurrent with a lunar eclipse:

Our next lunar eclipse will take place in July, but it will not be visible in North America. The next blue moon -- the second full moon in a calendar month -- will occur on Halloween, 2020.

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Photo Friday returns!

Alitalia  has returned from their seasonal break. Their new paint is a subtle change from before, and with the exception of the deletion of the green fuselage stripe, the differences aren't easy to spot in my photos. The fuselage is now an ever-so-slightly grayish white (they call it ivory) in place of the refrigerator white of before. If you look closely, you can see six graduated white stripes or bands around the aft end of the fuselage that lead into the now metallic green on the tail. I think the red on the tail is also now metallic paint. For that matter, the fuselage paint itself might actually be a metallic white.

Personal curiosity about the fuselage color lead me to this blog op-ed, which includes the Alitalia  press release:

And here's another news article:

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

First former Virgin America in Alaska colors

In the first post of the year, I told you of the last day of Virgin America as a separate airline. Since then, with the occasional exception of momentary memory lapses, the Redwood callsign has disappeared from our radio frequencies. The Virgin America paint lives on for now, but as promised, here are shots of the first former Virgin America airplane that I've seen in its new Alaska colors.

I went back into the archive and found a shot of this same airplane in its original livery. It's a little blurry in this shot, but this aircraft wore the name "jefferson airplane"