The A340 is a plane that keeps on going despite repeated claims it was done. The 300 series jet is actually not as inefficient as it is popular to suggest (the 600 series is far less competitive) and it is still working for a few airlines including Lufthansa. This winter the jet is back on the run to Seattle which has pleased me. Most of the jets have been repainted in the new livery which is not that thrilling. There are also Star Alliance liveried jets but there are one or two of them still in the older Lufthansa colors. This is a better look from my point of view.
I did have one of them come in one weekend when the light was good and the wind was favorable for the shots I was after. The landing shots were more of a struggle because the plane landed at noon and the lighting angles were not helpful. Departure was mid afternoon and so this was slightly better. They have been back occasionally since but not on days with a) good weather and b) me being available to be there. I hope I get more chances before they finally head to the desert.
With some nice autumnal light and a northerly flow at SEA, I was going to stay around to see what jets were heading out as the light was starting to be at its best just before it disappeared completely. At that time of year, there would be a number of widebodies heading out to Europe and the Middle East that would be close to sunset. In the weeks afterwards, they would all be after sunset! I decided to see what I could catch.
The light got better and better, so it was pretty straightforward to catch some really nice images of the big jets (and some smaller ones) as they climbed out of SEA on their way back to home base. Just looking through the viewfinder, I knew that I was going to be very happy with the results. Then, the sun set, and the light changed dramatically. However, some of the shots I got after this time will justify their own post.
Condor has gone on a bit of a Marmite route with its livery. They have decided to paint their aircraft with a striped paint scheme that looks like a beach towel. When they first went this way, the A330s that came to Seattle were leased jets and they only painted the fins rather than the whole airframe. They had ordered new A330-900s from Airbus, and these were delivered with the full paint job. I took a while before I finally saw one of these come to SEA and it was the green one. I still haven’t seen beige or blue! I have heard comments that really show how much people dislike this choice. For me it is such a nice change from the norm that I am really happy to see them. Something different is fun.
When we headed to the UK we departed from the South Satellite at SEA. It is the location used by most of the international operators. We got there in good time so I had a chance to watch some of the other flights arriving and departing. Here is a selection of shots of the airlines that came and went while we were there (including our jet to the UK).
Delta has gone in for the A321neo in a big way. They are taking delivery of them at a pretty steady pace. That doesn’t mean you get them everywhere as some types get focused on regions that others don’t. For a while, we didn’t see too many of the neo jets up this way but that seems to have changed now. I am seeing loads of them if I am around SEA these days. Here is a selection of shots of their jets that I have taken in recent months.
A while back I got a notification of an A320 departing SEA heading to Korea from an airline called AeroK. I didn’t have the chance to be there and wrote it off as a missed opportunity. Then, earlier this year I got a similar notification on a weekend, so I was able to make the trip down to see this depart. I hadn’t made the connection, but AeroK is Korea in reverse. It is a low-cost carrier that only recently started operations. I assume these were delivery flights for their new fleet since they won’t be operating to the US at this stage of their development. It would be good to see more of the planes at some point.
Getting a British Airways 777-200ER arriving at SEA would not normally be a priority unless the light was great and I was going to get Mt Rainier in the background. If the weather was cloudy and it was arriving from the north, might not seem to be that much of a deal. However, if it is being flown by someone I know, that is a different story. My friend, Paul, was the skipper on this flight and I was meeting him to have some time around Seattle before he headed home the following day.
The clouds were a shame but the light wasn’t totally bad. I figured it would need a bit of work in post to try and make the best of the shots but the lack of heat haze did help a bit. I was able to grab a few shots of the jet as it came down the approach and then as it was over the threshold prior to touchdown. Not the greatest shots Paul will have of him flying but, hopefully there are not too bad.
Photographing airliners can be a little “samey” since there are lots of very similar jets and getting a shot of them from the side looks much like any other shot unless the aircraft is specially painted or the lighting is particularly unusual. Consequently, every once in a while, it is fun to try and shoot from a different angle. The approach to SEA when the planes are on a southerly flow brings them in over a part of Burien where you can get yourself pretty much under the flightpath.
It won’t take too long before you are again getting a sequence of repetitive images, so it isn’t going to be useful for much time, but it is a chance to do something a little different. Head on shots from a distance are possible. Then you can get the shot looking up from the underside. This might be a tight shot of a part of the airframe, or a wide angle shot of the whole thing. An opportunity to do something a little different when you are photographing aircraft that are not ones where you care about missing the shot as you might when something special is coming in.
Earlier in the year, I was down at SEA for a reason that now escapes me. However, I had some time to kill, and the traffic was on a northerly flow which means it is easier to get reasonable afternoon light on the departing jets. Consequently, I hung out for a while to photograph some of the jets heading out. The majority of traffic is going to be the regular Alaska and Delta narrowbody traffic and that gets pretty repetitive. However, mid to late afternoon is when a lot of the departures for Europe and the Middle East take place. This means widebodies. Here are a bunch of shots of departing aircraft as they climb out and head on their way.
Frontier Airlines has been adding a bunch of A321neos to its fleet. They are not a regular feature at SEA but they do come in periodically. The airline has at least one that is painted in a special green livery incorporating Pratt and Whitney imagery including a bald eagle. This is to signify the environmental benefits of the latest generation of jets. I actually saw one when I was elsewhere in the country. It was parked on a pier I could see but I didn’t have my camera available to get a shot in the nice evening light there was at the time.
Fortunately, it showed up as coming to Seattle one weekend. I figured I would get another chance at it. However, the weather wasn’t looking great. There was a hint that things might improve so I made my way there to see if I would get lucky. Sadly, the forecast was a little optimistic and it was still rather gloomy when the jet made an appearance. I made the best of it that I could but it was not great. Amazingly, I have had a long time since taking this shot and have yet to have another chance to shoot this jet. I think it may have visited but there was no way for me to be there. Hopefully I’ll catch it in good light one day!