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.
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.
Airports with airline service
The main airports in Los Angeles are:
Burbank Bob Hope
Los Angeles International
Santa Ana John Wayne
Los Angeles International (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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Santa Monica Municipal (SMO)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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’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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.