International flights are starting to increase in frequency and, it seems, capacity. Lufthansa has been making the run to Seattle with the A330s for a while now. Recently, they changed from the 300 to the A350. One quiet Saturday, I figured I would head down to grab a shot. Sadly, the old livery example of the previous day was replaced with one in the new livery. I do prefer the old livery but that wasn’t the reason for my disappointment. It will go away before too long so there will be plenty of chances to get the new livery over the years. It was hot and sunny and arrival is noon so about the worst time you could think of for photographing. A polarizer to take out some glare and to deepen the colors was the best I could manage.
I complained recently about my lack of luck when shooting the A330NEOs that Delta operates out of SEA. I finally got some better light on them. I was out for the Aloha Air Cargo 767 which was coming in just after sunrise. About half an hour later, Delta had a NEO coming in from Honolulu so I hung around. The light changed a lot in that half hour with the super warm light getting a little subdued as the sun came up but it was still by far the best light I have had on one of these jets. Thankfully it came in on the inner runway so no shooting it in the distance!
I was in a location where a couple of the departures from SEA were overflying me. I happened to have the camera to hand (of course I did) and I had the polarizer on there at the time. I had an Alaska Airlines 737 (what a shock from SEA) and a Hawaiian Airlines A330. I grabbed a few shots. The thing I like about the polarizer is cutting down on the glare from the white fuselages but they were still pretty bright. The rest of the sky was darkened considerably and, when editing to address the white fuselages, even more dark. I quite like the deep and moody look it gives to the shots with very little editing involved. Both jets pulled some vapor as they came through the same area so clearly there was extra moisture in that one spot. Maybe it was a thermal?
Shortly after my A220-300 landed, another Delta jet was due in. (Actually, quite a few were but they weren’t terribly interesting.). It was an A330-900, the NEO version of the A330. I have shot a few of them but have really struggled to get them in good conditions or nice lighting. Since the weather was crummy on this Sunday morning, that luck wasn’t changing. However, it was there so why not get a few shots. At some point I will get one in good light.
It’s true that the C Series is no longer called that but the A220 is not such an exciting name and the title was dull enough as it was so I figured some artistic license was allowed. I have shot A220s a number of times both in Seattle and Dallas Fort Worth since Delta flies them to both locations. However, to date, my only experience had been with the original aircraft, the A220-100. The -300 is the stretch version (or the actual original idea if you believe some analysts) which is proving to be the more popular seller. Delta has started taking delivery of them and one was coming to Seattle on a Sunday morning so I went out to catch it. Conditions were not ideal. In due course, these will be a common sighting but a first is still a first. Loads are flying in to Vancouver with Air Canada but, until the border opens, I will have to make do with this one.
The A220 (or C Series as it was then) was the plane that spooked Airbus and then Boeing. It was an efficient plane with a new engine – the Pratt and Whitney geared turbofan or GTF. Airbus decided the re-engine the A320 family with a version of the same plane and the success of that project changed Boeing’s plans from a new plane to a reboot of the 737 which gave us the Max! They went with a different engine to the GTF (and Airbus decided to offer both). The GTF is a high bypass engine so it takes up a lot of space under the wing. This A220 passed over me on approach to SeaTac and gave a good idea of just how large the engine nacelles are compared to the rest of the plane.
A launch customer for the A320 was British Caledonian Airways. Unfortunately for those that liked Scottish themed airlines, BCal was bought by British Airways before the jets were delivered. I recall some dispute with Airbus about who would pay for the repaint of the first jet but maybe that is an urban legend. I think there were ten of them and BA took delivery. However, they were an orphan fleet for a long time in amongst all of the BA 737s and 757s.
That changed when BA went to an all A320 family short haul fleet breaking their long standing use of Boeing jets (plus some other stragglers). However, that cam much later. The earliest jets were A320-100s and these didn’t have the wing tip fences. The A320-200 followed very soon afterwards. Here are two shots of them. One is from 1988 with an A320 in BA’s Landor scheme on approach over my head to Gatwick. The other shot is a late in life shot of one of the earliest jets taken at Heathrow. These early examples are all gone now.
I had a brief visit to Seattle Tacoma International to get some images for work. These images were not of the aircraft but the configuration of the roadways in to the airport. Not a great opportunity for photographing an aircraft. However, you could just see some of the ramp area and, as the sun came out, the Alaska Airlines A321neo in the More To Love markings taxied in. It was just visible above the terminal buildings so it would have been rude not to get a shot!
The huge reduction in air travel – particularly long haul – has resulted in airlines taking a hatchet to their fleets. Lufthansa has been no exception with many jets parked permanently and others in long term storage with a significant question mark hanging over them. The A340-600 fleet is one such fleet. However, while a few of the A340-300s have been put out to grass, a good chunk of the fleet is still in use.
The 300 Series is an underrated airliner. The 600 has longer range and higher payload but it is optimized for the longer range missions and is too much for shorter flights. The 300 is a more versatile type as long as you are not pushing the bounds of payload/range. Consequently, it has hung around a lot longer than might have been expected. With reduced load factors, it is continuing to show its value despite it having been seen as on the way out for many years now.
Lufthansa has started using them on the Seattle run. They are coming in three days a week. The jet arrives around noon and two of the trips are Wednesday and Friday so work means they are hard to get. Sunday is the other day so I decided to give it a go. However, when I got up, flights were on a northerly flow which means no good locations to shoot from and a high and tail on light set up. Not ideal. However, by mid-morning, despite the forecast northerly winds, they had switched to a southerly flow. That meant a water tower shooting location was on the cards so off I went.
I got to the water tower in plenty of time only to notice a lack of arriving jets. Sure enough, they had switched back to a northerly flow. I now had to try and find a new location to shoot from and quickly. I had an idea for somewhere I hadn’t used before so decided to give it a go. I had time to try out on a preceding arrival and my post on that Asiana jet is here. Since things seemed to work okay, I stayed were I was and waited for the jet to arrive. Lufthansa had painted a bunch of their jets in Star Alliance colors but they are now reverting to the mainline livery and happily, that is what I was expecting. No idea how long they shall be around but I shall try again while they are coming here because they will be gone before too long I imagine.
I made a quick trip to SeaTac one Sunday for another visitor that I was keen to catch and that will have its own post. I ended up shooting from a sub-optimal location and one that I had never used before. I didn’t know exactly what I could expect. Fortunately, prior to the arrival, an Asiana A350 was due in. It was about 30 minutes ahead of the one I was after so, if things didn’t work out, I had time to try moving to somewhere else.
Fortunately, while heat haze was going to be a problem and the light angle wasn’t great, neither of these were things I could do anything about and the location did provide a reasonable angle on the jet. There were some lamp poles which I noted to be ready for next time and the jet went behind the trees as it crossed the threshold but it did seem like a usable location for the intended target to come.