In jet blast incident, an American 737 damages a Delta 777

Jet blast from an American Airlines jet dislodged some construction barriers Thursday night at Los Angeles International Airport, causing them to strike an engine of a nearby Delta Air Lines Boeing 777, airport officials told me Friday.

“Last night at approximately 10:20 p.m. jet blast from an American Airlines engine caused some construction barricades to be pushed toward a Delta 777,” LAX spokeswoman Amanda Parson said in an email. “The barricades struck underneath the 777’s left engine.”

Delta canceled its 10:10 p.m. flight to Sydney, Australia due to “…damage to the aircraft engine cowling,” Parsons said. The Delta plane was parked at Gate 57 in Terminal 5.

The plane that caused the jet blast was American flight 2415 from Miami. It was a Boeing 737-800 and it parked at Terminal 4, Gate 46B. That gate is across an alleyway from Delta’s terminal.

Parsons said the incident is under investigation.

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American Airlines will sublease four LAX gates from United

American is building up at #LAX, while United is retrenching. Photo: American.

American is building up at LAX, while United is retrenching. Photo: American.

American Airlines will lease four gates and related counter and office space from United Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport starting in the third quarter of 2014, officials confirmed Tuesday.

American is picking up four gates at Terminal 6. The gates were formerly used by Continental Airlines, before it merged with United. The new combined United Airlines has been using them for several years.

When American picks up the gates, it will operate about 180 daily departures to 55 destinations from 28 gates, airline spokesman Andrew Christie told me. (Ned Russell of Flight Global points out that 10 of these gates are used by American Eagle, so American will have only 18 mainline gates under the new arrangement — still not a lot in relative terms.)

Christie wasn’t sure, but I believe the gates being transferred are 60-63. There is a United Club nearby, but Christie said American may not take it over.

“Working in a capacity constrained airport can be challenging,” Christie said. “With the agreement with United for the additional space we will be able to improve our customer service there and provide the customers with a better travel experience.”

This is not a perfect situation. American will now have gates that are literally all over the airport, and there will be no great way for passengers to transfer among them.

Here’s what American will have soon:

  • American is the exclusive carrier in Terminal 4. That will remain its base.
  • American operates American Eagle flights from a commuter terminal. The terminal is  accessible by bus from the main American terminal. This will not change.
  • US Airways, an American Airlines Group company, operates from Gates 30, 31A, 31B in Terminal 3. Passengers connecting to other American Airlines flights will have to continue to take a bus from these gates to their connecting flights. Christie said eventually American may stop using these gates.
  • American will have four gates in Terminal 6, subleased from United. There is a tunnel inside security– it has long been closed but should reopen — that connects Terminal 4 to Terminal 6. It is a long walk, however. Passengers must walk through Delta’s terminal.
  • American will eventually operate many of its international flights from the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The international terminal will be connected to Terminal 4 via a walkway now under construction.
  • At busy times, some American flights use what are called “remote” gates on the western edge of the airport. Travelers then must take a bus to Terminal 4. These gates may continue to be used.

I expect United to slightly trim its schedule to make up for the loss of four gates. United confirmed to me that Portland and San Jose will be cut Sept. 20. Both are operated by Skywest Airlines as United Express. “The flights weren’t meeting our expectations,” United spokeswoman Mary Clark said.

The internet says United is also axing its L.A. to Kelowna (British Columbia) flight, also operated by Skywest.

United will retrench in its Terminals 7 and 8. Los Angeles World Airports is planning a $400 million renovation of United’s operation at LAX.  

Meanwhile, in what American’s Christie deemed a “separate transaction,” US Airways is returning to United two gates that it had leased in Terminal 2 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

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On American Airlines slowly retiring its MD-80s

It is nearly the end of the era for American's Super 80s. Photo: Dylan Ashe, via Creative Commons.

It is nearly the end of the era for American’s Super 80s. Photo: Dylan Ashe, via Creative Commons.

If you haven’t already seen it, the article to read from the weekend is Terry Maxon’s excellent piece on the MD-80s now being retired by American Airlines.

Even if you’re not an avid aviation follower, you know the plane if you’ve flown American at all in the past decade. It has been the workhorse of the fleet, perhaps best known among casual fliers for its 2-3 seating configuration and the two smallish engines mounted near the tail. And if you have ever taken a peek in the cockpit, you’ve probably noticed that it lacks some of the modern equipment you see in other 21st century jetliners. (Of course, it’s very safe, and pilots say they like flying it.)

Yes, it’s just an airplane. But Maxon, who follows the retirement of one plane — N7530, which joined American’s fleet in 1990 — tells a nice story about the changing economics of the airline industry.

At one time, American operated more than 370 MD-80s, which it dubbed the Super 80. Now there are fewer than 160 left, and the fleet will shrink to under 140 by year’s end. By the end of 2018, if plans aren’t changed, the last MD-80 will be out of American’s enormous fleet.

Almost every American pilot of the last three decades has spent time in the MD-80 cockpit. Billy Parker, hired at American in 1989, logged 13,250 flying hours in the plane, which he described as “just a good, reliable pair of blue jeans.”

“It’s not as sexy as the newer airplanes,” he said, “but man, it has been a workhorse.”

A bit of trivia for you. The MD-80s operated by American go by a few nicknames. Can you name any?

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American Airlines retires its 767-200s, which it used from JFK to LAX

It is the end of the line for American's 767-200 fleet. This photograph was taken in Zurich in 1995. Photo:

It is the end of the line for American’s 767-200 fleet. This photograph was taken in Zurich in 1995. Photo:

Tonight marks the end of an era for an American Airlines workhorse, the Boeing 767-200, an aircraft that has long been deployed on the New York to Los Angeles route.

American’s final scheduled 767-200 flight will be tonight from Los Angeles to New York. Flight 30 is to leave LAX at 11:30 p.m. and arrive at JFK at 7:55 a.m. The airplane is N319AA, and was built in 1985, according to FAA data.

N332AA is also scheduled to make its final commercial flight tonight, flying JFK to LAX, as Flight 21. It departs New York at 7:10 p.m. and arrives at 10:30 p.m. This 767 joined American’s fleet in 1987, according to FAA data. (American took its first 767-200 in 1982.)

This is good news for travelers. American is now flying brand new A321 airplanes on the Los Angeles to New York routes, planes with all the bells and whistles travelers want — like flatbed seats in business and first class and in-seat video in all classes.

It is the end of the line for American's Boeing 767-200 fleet. In its place? Airbus A321s like the one. Photo: American.

It is the end of the line for American’s Boeing 767-200 fleet. In its place? Airbus A321s like the one. Photo: American.

And if you ever feel nostalgic, there’s always US Airways, an American Airlines Group company. US Airways is holding on to its 762s for a bit.

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