An Aeroflot Airbus A330 landed at LAX while I was shooting there. On plenty of occasions, I have seen ice on the underside of the wings of landing aircraft where the cold fuel remaining in the tanks has caused condensation and freezing in the warmer damp air lower down. However, I haven’t ever noticed it on the fuselage structure. On this jet, though, I could see ice on the surface and the patterns of ice reflected the underlying fuselage structure. Maybe this is there more often and it was just the paint finish that made it show up this time.
A bit of a crummy song reference for which I should really apologize. Edelweiss is a Swiss airline that flies to Vancouver. Their flight arrived while Mark and I were on the north side of the field. Lighting is less than ideal in that location but, once the plane is passed and turning to taxi to the terminal, you get some nice angles and very good light options. This was my first encounter with an Edelweiss jet and I was pleased that the livery is a bit more interesting than the average these days.
Air Transat is an airline that I haven’t seen much of. I recall them flying to the UK decades ago with TriStars (if I am thinking of the right airline) but, since then I have not really come across them. To be honest, I actually thought they were long gone but it turns out they continue to ply their trade. As I was heading to Vancouver International, I saw one of their A330s climbing out and I was a bit annoyed to have missed it. However, it wasn’t their only scheduled departure for that evening. A later flight went while I was there and I managed to get my first shots of them in action.
The Royal Air Force has replaced its tanker force since I left the UK. The VC-10s and TriStars have been retired and there is a public private partnership in place to deliver tanking support. This uses converted Airbus A330s. They are able to provide tanking and transport services (with some of the aircraft configured only for transport). In RAF service, these jets are named Voyager. Red Flag 17-1 was my first real opportunity to photograph a Voyager in action. (Annoyingly my sister has shot them before me and has been on a refueling mission with them!) While an A330 might not be the most exciting jet to see, I was really looking forward to photographing it.
As the mission was recovering, the light was great. Low sun providing a warm and soft illumination on the returning jets. Then, the Voyager called up. Just as it did so, the sun went in. The Voyager came down the approach, its gray fuselage in the shade of some clouds. It landed, taxied in and then the sun came right back out again. Arghh! Sure, I can bump up the white balance a bit to warm things up but the jet was in shade and there is not much I can do about that. I had to leave before it recovered on the following day so no luck then. They will be around for a while so I guess I will get any crack at this at some point.
After watching a few aircraft making their approaches, you get a feel for how high the jets will be at a given point. Any variation from this seems pretty different, even if it is not really that large. A Korean Air A330 made its approach and it seemed noticeably lower to me. There was a displaced threshold in operation so maybe they were aiming a bit closer to the piano keys than normal. They didn’t do anything untoward but it did catch my attention.
I wonder how long this plane will continue to show up at SFO. Air Berlin runs a service to San Francisco which is seasonal in nature. However, Air Berlin is currently in some difficulty and they are reorganizing the operations. Some of the services are moving in to Lufthansa control while the long haul stuff may be what remains. Consequently, they might still come to California but, for now, who knows. They aren’t a daily feature anyway so I haven’t seen the, very often. Here was a nice day when they did show up.
Yes, no exaggeration in this case. It really is Wow! Of course, Wow is an airline, not something so unusual. They are a low cost airline operating out of Iceland and they have started direct flights to San Francisco. I hadn’t managed to see them since they started service. They come in on certain days and later in the afternoon but had not been helped by air traffic delays in Iceland which had meant the flights were arriving late on a regular basis. I did finally get to see one of their A330s come in – late but not as late as had sometimes been the case.
The light at this time of year is not so easy. At the end of the day, the sun angle actually moves sufficiently far around to be on the nose and then even slightly backlit. The late arrival exacerbates the issue but the sun was still slightly on the right side when they came in. It does result in quite some contrast between the nose and the fuselage sides which, with a dark color like they have, makes for a more difficult exposure. I want to visit Iceland at some point so having a direct flight is definitely something to consider for me.
I have seen a few Airbus A330s landing recently and they have a slightly unusual landing approach. I am not sure whether this is a feature of the design, the training techniques for the pilots or just a random occurrence that I have seen more than my fair share of. The planes appear to do a wheelie as they land. They have two main gear legs with a four wheel bogie on each. As they touchdown, they seem to hang on the rear wheels longer than would seem normal, even as the aircraft is de-rotating. Meanwhile, the reversers will start to deploy (sadly not in any shots I have) so there must be enough weight on wheels to trigger their activation. Gradually the jet sinks down on to all main wheels and the nose lowers.
Not long ago I complained about the dirty condition of a China Eastern A330. At the time, I thought it might be a non-standard jet because the livery was basically white with a couple of distinguishing marks. It turns out that I hadn’t appreciated that China Eastern have replaced their previous colors with a new and less colorful scheme. Since then I have seen some 777s come in with the new scheme. In an era of relatively bland airline colors, it seems to me that China Eastern have gone a stage further and taken any interest at all from the livery. Not a cool effort on their part I think. They should check out what China Southern is doing by comparison.