Lufthansa A350s are something I seem to struggle to get a good look at. They operate to a number of places where I have been but I either time it wrong or they are on the opposite runway from me so a distant shot is all that results. The closest I have got to them is at Haneda. There an example landed and taxied in to the terminal across from me. The light was at the right angle but the excessive heat meant that haze was a problem and I wasn’t going to get a good shot. It is the closest I have managed so far but I shall continue to wait for the opportunity to get something better. The fleet will grow and the route structure will expand so the time will come at some point.
The A340s are disappearing from the fleets of major airlines pretty quickly as the 787s and A350s come in to service. Lufthansa is one airline that still has not only the A340-600 in service but the A340-300 too. I shot a 600 on approach to SFO last year and it got me wondering just how long they have remaining in service. While fuel prices are relatively low, they may hang on but higher fuel prices could accelerate their demise. We shall see. In the meantime, here are some of their fleet in service across the years.
Aside from FedEx, MD-11s are becoming pretty thin on the ground. Lufthansa Cargo has had a decent fleet of them but there will come a time before too long when they are all gone. I figured one weekend I would nip out and get the arrival of one of them. The arrivals of heavy jets, particularly freighters, are often put on the inside runway which gave me a bit of a chance but, at that time of day, there aren’t great spots. I found a place that is rather close to being underneath the jet but it would have to do. I still think it is a nice looking jet, even if it didn’t prove to be a success in its originally intended role.
Lufthansa changed their livery recently. It was not universally appreciated and I can’t say I disagree. It really is rather dull. I hadn’t even bothered to keep an eye on whether it was on a jet coming to Seattle. Instead, while out in Federal Way, I saw a 747 heading my way so decided to take a couple of shots. Turns out it was the new colors (or lack thereof). Soon it will be a common sight as they repaint the fleet but this was my first encounter.
The A350 is becoming a lot more widespread now. China Airlines has been flying them in to Vancouver for a while. I actually shot one last year on approach but it was coming in from the sea on the opposite runway near sunset so it is a tiny spec in the distance! This time I got one coming in a bit closer. The sun was getting low so the conditions were turning into something very nice. I touched down right in front of me with the sun pretty much on the nose.
It wasn’t the only A350 that day. Lufthansa also operated one in but it arrived before I got across the border. It did depart while I was there but departures are from the opposite runway so it was a bit far away. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much distortion in the air and I was able to get a reasonable view of it although not something that would have much use. The fleet will only grow so there will be more opportunities to get the German jet.
Heading back to Hawthorne after my flight over LAX, another plane was coming in to the southern complex. I had forgotten it was due and, after moving to the south of the field, we could have got a good shot of it landing. Never mind. This Lufthansa A340-600 beat me but I was able to get a shot of him from a distance as we headed in and, since there was a parallel approach on the northside, I got his little cousin in the shot too.
Lufthansa have painted up one of their 747-8I jets in a livery that is based on their old color scheme. Until recently, the Seattle route was being flown with a 747-400 so I didn’t anticipate the chance to see it. Then, in the aftermath of the Air Berlin bankruptcy, Lufthansa deployed some 747s on domestic services to bolster capacity. This meant some 747-400s were pulled from routes and the 747-8I was subbed on to Seattle. I was down there on a crummy day to get the IL-76 and the special jet was due in. I figured I couldn’t miss it, even if the conditions weren’t great. The light was not great as it came down the approach but the shot from behind as it got to the threshold was a bit better.
When the aircraft are approaching SFO from over the bay, they touchdown out of sight of the usual locations on the bay shore. However, the old control tower provides a better perspective on these approaches. While you are shooting through some pretty stout glass, you can get a good shot or two of the approaches. A good example was the Lufthansa Airbus A380. Watching it come in towards the land, drift across the shoreline and over the threshold before touching down a little way down the runway, you see things in a way that is not often achievable. Since the tower will shortly be demolished, I doubt I will get something similar for a while.
When you live in the Bay Area, all of the flights to interesting overseas destinations go from SFO. However, there is a lot of demand for these flights and SFO is not the most convenient airport for everyone. Oakland has flights from London and Oslo. The other airport that is fighting for business is San Jose. They have recently added flight by Lufthansa and British Airways. This was enough to drag me down there to see what is moving.
San Jose is not a bad airport to shoot at. There are a few locations which give you good options for getting shots of the jets either arriving or departing. On the day I went, Lufthansa were using their A340 in Star Alliance colors. I have to admit I was a touch disappointed because I wanted a Lufthansa jet in house colors. However, there will be another time. I got there later in the day so didn’t see it arrive. However, I was there for departure.
After it had gone, I headed down to the arrival end. There was going to be a fair bit of time before the BA jet arrived so I would see what showed up. That will probably be another post. Eventually, the BA jet showed up on approach. It came down from the coast side so I could see it from a long way out. It turned on approach and then I got. A bunch of shots of it as it came down the approach. The 787-9 is a better proportioned jet than the 787-8. I think both jets are bigger than they appear. Having not tried either out yet, I don’t know what they are like to fly in. However, the BA colors look nice on it. I got the shot I was after and then headed off. At some point, I shall go for the departure shot too. I should do that before the light gets too low!
My quest for a Virgin Atlantic A340 had an unintended side benefit. It turns out that Lufthansa also run an A340-600 in to SFO around the same time of day as Virgin Atlantic. While the Virgin jet was on final, the Lufthansa jet was coming over the top before turning in for approach. Why not hang around for a few more minutes and get another 340? Lufthansa are not getting rid of them so quickly but they won’t be around forever so I might as well make the most of the opportunity.