242 tonne take-off weight Airbus A330 takes to the skies

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 13-01-2015

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A330_242T__First_flight_take_off_2_

Airbus has successfully flown the first A330 aircraft with the increased 242 tonne maximum take-off weight (MTOW) at Toulouse Blagnac.

Didier Evrard, Airbus Executive Vice President Head of Programmes said: “I congratulate the whole team in charge of the A330 242 tonnes weight variant for making this day happen ahead of schedule. We are on track to deliver this new higher weight variant in 2015 to launch customer Delta Air Lines, who will also be the launch customer for the A330neo.”

The A330 242 tonne MTOW is the platform for the future A330neo and is concrete example of Airbus’ incremental innovation strategy. The newest enhancement offers more capability at lower operating cost with a range extended by up to 500 nautical miles and up to two percent reduced fuel consumption while also benefiting from operational reliability of above 99 percent. The 242 tonne MTOW is capable of flying missions up to 15 hours.

Airports of Los Angeles – a spotting guide

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, USA | Posted on 06-01-2015

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Los Angeles is among the largest and most populous cities and metropolitan areas in the United States, as well as a major tourist draw and transport hub.

Its huge 469 square miles and extended Los Angeles Basin is home to a great number of airports and airfields, making its skies one of the most complex and busy air traffic regions in the world.

A spotting trip to Los Angeles can be hugely rewarding for aviation enthusiasts and, whilst Los Angeles International itself is a great draw, spending time exploring the other airports is very much recommended.

This report covers the basics and essentials of spotting in Los Angeles, plus some ideas for trips further afield.

 

LosAngelesAirports

 

 

 

Airports with airline service

  • The main airports in Los Angeles are:
  • Burbank Bob Hope
  • Los Angeles International
  • Long Beach
  • LA/Ontario International
  • Santa Ana John Wayne

 

Los Angeles International (LAX)

LosAngeles-LAX

By Alan Wilson (Flickr: LAX International Line-up #2) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Most travellers, especially from overseas, will arrive at Los Angeles International (commonly known as LAX). Situated at the western side of the city, bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean, it is an airport with four runways, nine terminals, and handling well over 60 million passengers per year.

LAX is a hub for many airlines. In terms of movements, the most prominent are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Qantas, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin America.

Many of the world’s large airlines fly to this airport, arriving in waves from Europe or Asia. Most international airlines use the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which has recently been extended, although some share the other terminals.

Cargo is also important for LAX, with many daily freighter flights. These use facilities and aprons on the southern side of the airfield.

Where to spot at Los Angeles LAX

Where to spot at Los Angeles LAX

There are a few of spotting locations at Los Angeles International:

Imperial Hill Jim Clutter Park
Situated on the south side of the airport off Imperial Highway, this hill overlooks LAX from a height which offers unobstructed photography of aircraft, and the ability to log all movements on the south side with good binoculars. Movements on the northern runways can be read with a pole. The park features benches and the shade of trees, and a number of food concessions are located close by.

In & Out Burger
This fast food restaurant at Sepulveda Blvd and 92nd Street has gained a reputation amongst spotters due to its position under the approach to runways 24L/R. From the car park, this is a fantastic location for photographs; however, viewing aircraft on the ground is nearly impossible.

Tom Bradley Terminal Parking
The top level of the parking garage has views over much of the action, particularly aircraft on the north side. Departures on the southern runways are also visible.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Long Beach (LGB)

By Ms ArtGeek at en.wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

By Ms ArtGeek at en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Formerly the airport at which McDonnell Douglas constructed many of its great airliners, and still a production and maintenance base for C-17 military transports. Long Beach, situated at the south of the Los Angeles area, is a hub for JetBlue Airways and has some other flights.

You can spot at Long Beach from the café and terrace inside the terminal. There’s also a small observation area at the Rainbow Air Academy, just down Kilroy Airport Way from DeVry University. It gives views of the C-17 ramp.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Burbank Bob Hope (BUR)

LosAngeles-Burbank

Photo (c) Bob Hope Airport

Situated to the north of the city, closer to Hollywood. Burbank has two runways and is a hub for Southwest Airlines, with additional services by Alaska Airlines, Delta Connection, JetBlue Airways, United Express and US Airways Express. The airport is quite hemmed in by the surrounding roads and commercial areas.

Spotting at Burbank is best from the top floor of the car park outside the terminal, from where all movements can be seen.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

LA/Ontario International (ONT)

Photo (c) LA/Ontario Airport

Photo (c) LA/Ontario Airport

Ontario Airport is one of the main Los Angeles airports, and handles over 6 million passengers per year, but is quite restricted on growth by its surroundings. Although it has two parallel runways, they are situated very close together.

There are three passenger terminals, with Southwest Airlines being the most prominent airline although other major US carriers all have a presence. UPS also has a strong cargo presence at the airport.

Spotting at Ontario Airport is more difficult as there are no obvious locations. However, the best views can be had on the southern perimeter near the UPS ramp, were views of aircraft approaching the runways can be had from the road.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Santa Ana John Wayne (SNA)

Photo (c) Santa Ana Airport

Photo (c) Santa Ana Airport

The closest airport to Disneyland, and named after the famous cowboy actor who lived nearby. Santa Ana is in southern Los Angeles’ Orange County and has two short runways and a cramped terminal. It is also a hub for Southwest Airlines, with nationwide links via other US carriers. Santa Ana is also a very busy general aviation airfield, with hundreds of based aircraft.

Spotting at Santa Ana is quite difficult. The best place is to find Airport Loop Drive, one the western side of the airport behind the many GA hangars, and park up. You can then walk to see aircraft arriving from the north.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

 

Other airports of note

In addition to the airports with airline traffic, a number of other airports are worth checking out if you are into executive aircraft and biz jets, and general aviation aircraft. These include:

  • Santa Monica Municipal
  • Torrance Zamperini Field
  • Van Nuys

 

Santa Monica Municipal (SMO)

LosAngeles-SantaMonica

This historic airfield is hemmed in on all sides by the city. It is here that many Douglas propliners were built. It is very busy with executive and light aircraft movements. However, local residents have been pushing to have the airport closed for many years and the decision is still being considered.

Spotting at Santa Monica is possible from the official viewing deck on the administration building on the south side of the airport, with good all round views and photography. There is a preserved Douglas DC-3 alongside. Clover park on the north side is also good for viewing through the fence.

Be sure to check out the Museum of Flying at Santa Monica Airport.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Torrance Zamperini Field (TOA)

This is one of the busiest general aviation airports in California. It’s around 10 miles south of LAX. Approximately 500 light aircraft are based here at any time, and the two runways are often busy. The Western Museum of Flight is also based here, albeit quite small. A walk along Airport Drive should yield many of the aircraft parked under the low hangars, and a tour of Robinson Helicopters’ factory is also possible.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Van Nuys (VNY)

LosAngeles-VanNuys

A few miles to the west of Burbank Airport in the San Fernando Valley is Van Nuys, a busy executive and general aviation airport. It has two runways, and sees well over a thousand movements per day. It is also quite open to aviation enthusiasts.

Spotting at Van Nuys Airport is best from the official viewing area at Waterman Drive in the north east corner of the airfield. This small car park is nestled next to the runways, taxiways and a helicopter parking ramp. You can get close views of all the action, with photography through the fence. ATC is broadcast here too.

Driving around the perimeter will uncover a number of other vantage points from which aircraft parked at the various ramps and hangars can be logged. You can also spot from the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant on Raymer Street.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

 

Museums and Preserved Aircraft in Los Angeles

California Science Centre

Includes an air and space section, with the Space Shuttle Endeavour and a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 on display, amongst a few other aircraft.

http://californiasciencecenter.org/

700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037

 

Museum of Flying

A nice collection of aircraft from the beginnings of flight through to the jet age. Includes a FedEx 727 nose section, a DC-3, and a Convair 240 cockpit. Situated at Santa Monica Airport.

http://www.museumofflying.com/

3100 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, California 90405

 

Ronald Reagan Library

707 Reagan Library

707 at the Reagan Presidential Library

The final resting place of Ronald Reagan in Simi Valley, to the north of Los Angeles, is also home to a museum which includes his Air Force One Boeing 707 transport and one of his helicopters.

http://www.reaganfoundation.org/

40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, California 93065

(See our list of Boeing 707s you can still go inside today, including President Reagan’s example at Simi Valley)

 

Western Museum of Flight

Located at Torrance Airfield. It houses a number of military aircraft, including jet fighters, which are indicative of Southern California’s aviation heritage.

http://www.wmof.com/

3315 Airport Drive, Red Baron #3, Torrance, CA 90505

 

 

Further Afield

 

LosAngeles-FurtherAfield

 

Once you’ve had your fill of the Los Angeles area, there are a number of options for easy spotting trips further afield:

  • Storage Airfields
    Both Mojave and Victorville are within an easy drive of Los Angeles, and each has many stored and retired airliners.
  • Las Vegas
    There are lots of cheap daily flights to Las Vegas from the various Los Angeles airports. Enjoy some time in ‘Sin City’ and at its very busy airport.
  • San Diego
    A two-hour drive to the south of Los Angeles. San Diego is a busy and compact airport.

 

You can find spotting locations for airports across America in our book, Airport Spotting Guides USA

KLM to arrive in Ireland

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Ireland, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 06-01-2015

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KLM Fokker 70 at Durham Tees Valley

KLM is to begin its first flights to Ireland in May when it commences a new Belfast service.

George Best Belfast City Airport is the only airport in the UK or Ireland included in expansion plans announced today by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines who will commence a daily service to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from May 2015 providing greater access to global destinations through KLM’s extensive network.

Belfast City Airport’s Commercial and Marketing Director, Katy Best, said: “Attracting an airline such as KLM to Northern Ireland, is a major win for the airport, tourism within the region and local businesses who will benefit from KLM’s worldwide network.”

KLM ANNOUNCES ARRIVAL TO NORTHERN IRELAND

The airport, situated in Belfast’s docklands, competes against the larger Belfast International Airport 18 miles to the west. Attracting an airline such as KLM is a majour coup and will no doubt attract a lot of business passenger to the city, and a lot of outbound travellers onto KLM’s worldwide network.

US Airways Boeing 767-200 retiring in February

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 05-01-2015

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USAirways767

US Airways is set to retire its Boeing 767-200 fleet in February, marking the end of passenger operations with the type in the USA.

The final flight is currently scheduled as US1798 from Charlotte to Philadelphia and return on 11th February.

Other flights operating with the type that day, according to Airline Route, include:

  • Charlotte-Cancun-Charlotte
  • Charlotte-Orlando-Charlotte
  • Charlotte-St Thomas-Charlotte

These aircraft have a long heritage, with some of the fleet being operated by Piedmont Airlines in the 1980s before its merger with USAir.

What to look out for in 2015 – aviation events

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News | Posted on 31-12-2014

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Let me take this opportunity to say ‘Happy New Year’ to you all, and thanks so much for making 2014 a great year for Airport Spotting Blog.

I wondered what aviation events you are looking forward to in 2015? I have put together this list of events that you might be interested in:

January

  • Airbus A350 enters commercial service between Doha and Frankfurt with Qatar Airways.
  • First American Airlines 787 due
  • First Etihad 787 due
  • First Korean Air 787 due
  • First Qantas 787 due
  • First Scoot 787 due

February

  • 18th-22nd – Aero India
    Largest air show in India, held at Yelahanka, Bengaluru
  • First Royal Air Maroc 787 due

March

April

May

  • 19th-21st EBACE European Business Aviation Convention
    Held at Geneva Airport
  • First Vietnam Airlines 787 due
  • 29th Final scheduled TU-154 flight in Europe – Geneva to Minsk, Belavia

June

  • 11th-13th AviationExpo Europe
    A festival of aviation. Held at Kbely Airport in the Czech Republic
  • 15th-21st – Paris Air Salon
    The great biannual air show and industry event where new aircraft are displayed and many airline orders are made. Takes place at Paris Le Bourget Airport.
  • First PrivatAir 787 due

July

  • 20th-26th EAA Airventure Oshkosh
    The largest air show in the world returns to Wittman Regional Airport in Wisconsin

August

  • 25th-30th MAKS Air Show
    Held at Moscow Zhukovsky Airport.
  • First Vietnam Airlines A350 due

September

  • First Finnair A350 due
  • First Oman Air 787 due

October

  • 24th – Final Virgin Atlantic A340-300 flight
  • First KLM 787 due
  • First Transaero A380 due

November

  • 8th-12th Dubai Air Show
    Held at the new Dubai World Central airport.
  • 17th-25th NBAA Business Aviation Convention
    Held at Las Vegas Henderson Executive Airport

December

  • First Saudia 787 due

Other events include the entry into service of the new Bombardier C Series airliner, which has been delayed. It is due to fly with Korean Air and Lufthansa first.

 

Leave a comment below if you can think of any other important aviation events or have anything that you’re looking forward to!

2014’s most popular Airport Spotting posts

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Australasia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Germany, Ghana, Heathrow, India, Indonesia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Turkey, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 27-12-2014

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MostPopular2014

With 2014 coming to an end and lots to look forward to next year, I wanted to revisit some of our most popular articles from the past year.

These have all had the most views, shares and comments.

What has been your aviation or spotting highlight of 2014? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Spotting News

Jakarta Airport FM7 Spotting Hotel
This new spotting hotel was a welcome addition to one of the most interesting airports for spotters to visit.

Guide to aviation and spotting in India
Spotting is notoriously difficult and misunderstood in India, so I put together this guide on what to expect and where to spot in this huge country.

Sydney to close observation deck
Sad new for spotters this year when Sydney’s International Terminal observation deck closed. But all was not lost.

Heathrow opens new viewing area
Few saw this coming – Heathrow opening an official viewing area again! But there was a catch…

ex-Ghana DC-10 turned into a restaurant
A former Ghana Airways Douglas DC-10 has been converted into a restaurant next to the main international airport.

BLOC Hotel Gatwick – Spotting Hotel Review
London’s second busiest airport got a new spotting hotel. I visited this summer and reported here on the excellent views and opportunities.

9 top spotting airports to reach by budget airline
This little guide offers some inspiration on the major international airports that are great to spot at, and also easily reached by budget airlines, helping keep the cost down.

 

BrazilThemeWeek

Airline and Aircraft News

SunExpress expand with up to 50 Boeing 737 order
A large order for aircraft from the joint German/Turkish leisure airline SunExpress.

Farnborough Air Show Orders Summary
This year’s Farnborough Air Show brought an unprecedented number of aircraft orders from around the world. We put a summary together here.

Brazil World Cup Special Liveries
This year’s Football World Cup in Brazil brought a number of special airline liveries. See them here!

McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Farewell
The final passenger MD-11 flights took place in 2014. In this farewell piece we look at the history or the aircraft and where you can still see them flying today.

 

Norwegian planning South America and Caribbean routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Caribbean, South America, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 23-12-2014

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Norwegian 737-800

Norwegian’s relentless push into new bases and new markets could take an even bigger step next year as it plans a possible new base which would give low-cost access to South America and the Caribbean.

The airline is looking at opening a new base at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, which puts its Boeing 737s – and especially the future 737MAX fleet – in easy reach of destinations such as Brazil and the various holiday islands of the Caribbean.

Norwegian is currently suffering set backs in its plans to establish an Irish subsidiary which would offer low-cost flights to America from the island with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. However, given that it already operates a number of Spanish bases and would bring about significant employment and income to the country with this new venture, it seems more likely to succeed should it go ahead.

This could open up a lot of opportunities for cheap, one-stop flights to destinations which are usually quite expensive to get to, and offers an interesting alternative to the full service airlines flying the routes.

Singapore Seletar airport to be upgraded

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Asia, Singapore | Posted on 22-12-2014

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Seletar Airport

Singapore’s historic Seletar Airport will be upgraded in 2015 to allow it to relieve some of the pressure on the busy Changi Airport.

Built in 1928, Seletar once handled scheduled services, and has remained a base for general aviation and aircraft maintenance.

Now, the ageing passenger terminal will be demolished and replaced by a new structure capable of handling the smaller turboprop types currently operating into Changi, and acting as a regional airport. This will likely affect carriers such as Firefly and Berjaya Air, but it might also encourage more smaller regional airlines to start services to Singapore using the upgraded Seletar.

Seletar is around 13 miles from Changi and the city, and easily reached by road. It is managed by the same owners as Changi airport.

In praise of winter spotting

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 16-12-2014

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Spotting in the sun or on the beach is a bit obvious and easy, don’t you think? One of the greatest challenges for spotters is making the most of winter conditions at airports, such as low light and poor weather.

One of the main reasons people venture out in the winter is a lack of choice – the need to be out around airports and aircraft is greater than the drawbacks of the weather. So how do you make the most of winter conditions when you’re spotting aircraft?

1. Spotting in the winter is an opportunity to photograph and video some spectacular flying. Think crosswinds, go-arounds, aircraft positioned at unusual angles in relation to the runway. Use the opportunity of windy conditions to find a good spot for pointing your camera at aircraft just before touchdown.

By Andreas Hoppe [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andreas Hoppe [GFDL or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Winter means snow! Use a snowy backdrop to add something unsual to your aircraft photographs. It doesn’t happen all that often, so it makes a change to frame airliners with a bit of the white stuff. It’s particularly nice when you have a crisp clear day with bright blue skies, low sun, and lots of fresh snow.

A picture I took from the Holiday Inn Ariel at Heathrow in winter

A picture I took from the Holiday Inn Ariel at Heathrow in winter

3. Spotting hotels come into their own. You don’t have to be outdoors braving the weather. Pick one of the many spotting hotels, position yourself by the window with fresh coffee and room service on order, and watch the action in warmth and safety.

Duxford

4. Make the most of museums! Winter down time is a great chance to catch up with some aviation museums. Most countries have a few great collections, big and small, and lots of historical material to absorb yourself in. Admittedly lots of museums also have aircraft outdoors, but many also have indoor collections to enjoy.

By Advanstra (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Advanstra (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

5. If all else fails, remember that winter in one hemisphere is summer in another. Take advantage of low airfares to make an off-season trip to somewhere warm for a few days spotting in the sun as a nice break from the cold and darkness at home.

Do you venture out in the dark months? What are your winter spotting tips? Leave a comment below.

Fly in a Spitfire!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 11-12-2014

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VS_Spitfire_T9_G-BMSB_MJ627_9G-P_(6623115903)

This is not the usual topic I cover on here, but I love featuring chances to fly on rare planes and this is certainly one of them!

A company in the UK called Into the Blue, which specialises in flying experiences, is now offering the chance to fly in a two-seat Spitfire aircraft on a 30 minute flight.

Following a change in the CAA rules, you can now fly in this aircraft – which actually saw combat in World War 2, including downing enemy aircraft. It was later converted into a two-seat aircraft, allowing these experience flights to take place. Two-seater Spitfires are incredibly rare. Supermarine did come up with the design for a two-seater version of the Spitfire, but none were ever ordered and only one was ever built. However, following several ‘unofficial’ conversions, Supermarine converted a handful of Mark IX Spitfires into two-seaters, called TR9s after the Second World War.

The aircraft is operated by Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, operating from Biggin Hill airfield to the south of London – the heart of ‘Battle of Britain Country’. You’ll be given a full pre-flight briefing, tour of the heritage hangar, Q&A session with the team, in-flight video recording, debrief, and time to hang around at the venue.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check out Into the Blue’s website here www.intotheblue.co.uk

I’m going to start saving up for this!