As I mentioned earlier, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the A380 welcoming event this evening at LAX. You’ll be happy to know that I took almost 70 pictures from just about every angle of the plane you can imagine. Actually, only a few of you will be happy to hear that. The rest will be bored out of your minds. So, if you’d like to see them all, you can browse through them at crankyflier.com/A380. For the rest of you, I’ve taken a handful of cool shots and put them here for you.
They tried to make us feel special early on when our shuttle bus started on its way with a police escort. I have no idea why we had a police escort, because he didn’t flash his lights or run traffic signals or anything fun like that. When we arrived at the Flight Path Learning Center in the old Imperial Terminal, we could see the plane parked just outside with a throng of onlookers trying to get a good view through the chain link fence.
There were a lot of reactions as the plane came into view, but the most common was “Wow, that is really short.” It’s true. it does look short when compared to its incredible height. See for yourself:
We were greeted by what had to have been one of the best looking cabin crews around. Or maybe all Qantas flight attendants look like that in which case I need to fly them more often. I’ve never been to the Flight Path before, and the museum was a great place for LA aviation buffs. It had a ton of memorabilia from LA’s history, but I’ll definitely have to head back another time because my focus for this trip was on the A380.
While many people headed straight for the bar, my friend Paul and I went right for the aircraft. We were initially told we would only be able to see it from a distance, but that proved to be untrue. The Airport Police set up a perimeter around the plane and let us get extremely close. We couldn’t go in, and I wasn’t happy about that. This plane doesn’t have much of an interior – it’s just ballast tanks and test equipment. That made me want to go in even more, but oh well.
I spoke with some of the Qantas representatives, and they were obviously very excited to see the plane out at LAX. When they take delivery next summer (2008), the first route will be LAX to Sydney. The aircraft will see 501 people with First Class at the front of the bottom deck and Business Class at the front of the top deck. Economy will be at the back of both decks. The airline is planning to improve the seating in all classes of service, but naturally they won’t tell anyone what they’re doing before it happens.
Ok, enough of me talking now. Let’s walk through the pictures.
Here’s a closeup of the nose. As you can see, there’s a blank space where I assume Fedex used to be before they canceled. Airbus looks to have hastily prepared this plane for the display. They didn’t bother to remove the UPS logo (they’ve also canceled their order) and the plane was pretty grimy:
This is one of my favorite shots, because it shows it in comparison with the 747 pulling in behind. I’m so used to seeing the cockpit on the upper deck of the 747 that having it down below looked really odd here. It makes it look like a caveman with a really big sloped forehead. I wouldn’t call this the most attractive aircraft around:
You can tell that this truly is a test aircraft. This is on the underside of the wing, just behind the slats on the leading edge. I’m just going to guess that it’s speed tape holding testing equipment and NOT duct tape:
That is one heck of a wing and look at all those wheels. Also, notice the faint rectangular box just underneath the upper deck doors. Anyone know what that is? Is it a slide?:
The horizontal stabilizer looks like big enough to double as a 737 wing:
The curvature of the wing from behind is just incredible:
The size of that wingbox reminds me of a massive Russian transport aircraft. It takes a lot in the middle to support those gigantic wings. Note what I believe is a tailstrike protection device under the rear. (Anyone know better?):
It was tough enough narrowing it down to these few images. If you want to see more, go to crankyflier.com/A380. As you can see, this was a pretty amazing experience. With only around 130 orders for the plane right now and no American carriers placing orders, this could be the closest I get to the plane for a long time.