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:

I believe that the (former) Virgin America A321s are the first A321neos at LAX. Here are a couple more:

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


  1. Botched paintjobs/rebranding exercises are becoming a real plague now. An example is on your last picture in this post, Eurowhite Iberia. Have you seen the new Lufthansa already? They did away with the yellow roundel ( called spiegelei in German - poached egg ) After just three weeks they discovered the new blue was too dark and had to bring in another tint. One new aircraft livery that is a surprising success is American Airlines ( seen landing in picture AC1470313.JPG, the second Air Canada pic). Are any metal polished 'old' American Airlines aircraft still around? At first I thought that you were complaining about the Air Canada 'bandit' cockpit visor - something I associate with Airbus, since the introduction of the A350.
    The 737MAX apparently also has a very obvious split scimitar winglet, enhanced by the different paint treatment of the lower part.
    One feature of the MAX I was not aware of is the new tailbumper. I did not know the 737 needed one, and I thought that with modern attitude-control electronics, the tendency was to eliminate them, as on the 777-300ER.
    Thank you for the construction updates.
    In the picture before last, does that expanse of pavement not pose problems when it rains? (especially around the blast pad, as well as the island between Echo 6 and Echo 7? Where is the drain?
    I was going to write a comment about how all pictures in this post are of the North Field, except the first Air Canada pic is not ( which also features runway work on 25R/07L).


    (P.S. there is a typo under your first Air Canada pic 'Air CANDA is the second carrier')

  2. Hi Filip - Good to hear from you again. I've heard about the changed Lufthansa logo, but I have yet to see it. Can't say that I'm looking forward to it; it sounds like change just for the sake of change. It's been a while since I've seen a bare metal American here; LAX seems to get the newest wide-bodies which are all coming with the new paint. Most of the American single-aisle jets here are A321s or A319s, with a few B737-800s in the mix. The Airbuses are either former US Air, which have all been repainted, or new ones that are being delivered in the new paint, while all the guppies that we get seem to have been repainted already. Note that LAX doesn't get American B757s or B767s anymore.

    The B737 Max does have the new scimitar winglet, but that's not limited to the Max. We have several carriers that have been retrofitting the split winglets to their aircraft. The Max is also not the first B737 model to have a tail bumper; that's been a feature on the -800 and -900 models from the start. As an example, check out the next-to-last photo: the Southwest B737-800 at Gate 18A features both a tail bumper and scimitar winglets. The difference between the B737 family and the B777 family is that the B777 is a fly-by-wire aircraft, and so the electronics have complete control and can prevent an over-rotation and subsequent tail strike. The B737, on the other hand, has mechanical controls linking the cockpit and the control surfaces. The software sits in the seats. ;-)

    While you can't really see it in most of the photos, the pavement isn't absolutely level. The runways and taxiways are crowned, meaning that they are higher in the center than along the edges. The areas between taxiways and runways are also lower than the movement areas, even though a good deal of that is paved as well. Although that doesn't completely solve the drainage issues, it helps that we get minimal rain here. A couple of days out of the year, we may end up with standing water for a few hours, but the jet blast, wind, and usually low humidity make short work of it. For good measure, we may even get an earthquake to shake some of it off!

    Yes, most of the pictures I take feature aircraft on the north side of the airport. That is because the control tower is better placed for shots at the approach end of the 24s, whereas the control tower is about mid-field for the south complex. In addition, for a good portion of the year, the prevailing light favors shooting the north complex because the sun is either above or behind the camera lens. Shooting the south side often means aiming the lens into the sun, which means that the subjects are in shadow and there tends to be more glare. All of which could be accommodated by a professional photographer with a bunch of gear and plenty of time to plan and compose the shot. Nearly all of my shots, on the other hand, are essentially snapshots of targets of opportunity, quite often shot through the tower windows (which are tinted and usually dirty).

    Typo fixed - thanks!