Georgetown
Topic Author
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 12:50 pm

LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:24 pm

Figured I’d turn to the experts on this one:

Yesterday afternoon (3/4) I was walking along Chrissy field in SF. For those unfamiliar, it is right on the bay and leads to the Golden Gate Bridge. Aside from the stunning view of the bridge and the water, it’s a great place to get a glimpse of heavies departing to Europe/Middle East from the 28’s at SFO. They take off, fly out to the ocean, turn right, and then turn right again heading E/NE, often flying directly over the Golden Gate Bridge, albeit usually at an altitude of 6500 - 8500 feet (at least according to the plane finder app).

Yesterday my wife and I noticed an LH a380 (flight 455 to FRA) flying the route much much lower than usual. The plane finder app had it at 2500 ft as it flew by the bridge. After it got past the bridge it started ascending at a good clip. For reference, an EK a380 followed it a bit later at the much higher (and usual) altitude.

My question is this: it really is an incredible view from an airplane at that area, there’s no chance the pilot would request to fly at a lower altitude for sightseeing purposes would they? Perhaps it was traffic-related, but if sightseeing is a possibility, that would be pretty neat. Perhaps I’m being naive and optimistic!

Thanks!
Let's go Hoyas!
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:09 pm

Just climb a bit slower than optimum will work. And, if you don’t go too low, no one will care.

GF
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:19 am

One or more of the following was probably a factor:
- How was the wind? With a strong tailwind a climbing aircraft will cover more track miles for the same gain in altitude.
- Maybe they were really heavy.
- As GalaxyFlyer says, it was probably just a slower than optimum climb. Perhaps they were asked to keep their speed above a certain number. Higher speed in the climb gives a lower climb rate.
- Maybe they were asked to stay lower for traffic separation.

Wording nitpick: "ascend" and "ascending" are never used in aviation due to the risk of confusion with "descend" and "descending".
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
timz
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:56 am

Aircraft departing runways 1 (or OAK) and headed south or west sometimes request the Bay Tour: maintain 3000, remain over the water, depart the Golden Gate Bridge heading whatever, then climb and maintain whatever.

Didn't know they ever did that for runway 28 departures, but sounds a possibility.
 
Georgetown
Topic Author
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:53 am

Thanks for the replies - all make a lot of sense. As for the “Bay Tour” yes I see HA doing that a lot from OAK. Also great point about ascending vs climb. I often forget that.
Let's go Hoyas!
 
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Balerit
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:03 pm

A couple of years ago I went to the Swartkops Airshow, South Africa, and the tower asked a Lufthansa A380 that was due in at JNB International at 0900 to do a low flypast to open the days proceedings and they obliged. I bet the passengers enjoyed it too.
Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (retired).
 
SAAFNAV
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:40 pm

Balerit wrote:
A couple of years ago I went to the Swartkops Airshow, South Africa, and the tower asked a Lufthansa A380 that was due in at JNB International at 0900 to do a low flypast to open the days proceedings and they obliged. I bet the passengers enjoyed it too.


Haha I was at the same airshow. It looked cool, but I don't even think it was that low to appear that impressive.

One day when I drove to Waterkloof on the R21 a BA A380 came right over the highway positioning for 21L, and with the low clouds it looked really impressive and lower than it really was
L-382 Loadmaster; ex C-130B Navigator
 
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Balerit
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:04 pm

SAAFNAV wrote:
Balerit wrote:
A couple of years ago I went to the Swartkops Airshow, South Africa, and the tower asked a Lufthansa A380 that was due in at JNB International at 0900 to do a low flypast to open the days proceedings and they obliged. I bet the passengers enjoyed it too.


Haha I was at the same airshow. It looked cool, but I don't even think it was that low to appear that impressive.

One day when I drove to Waterkloof on the R21 a BA A380 came right over the highway positioning for 21L, and with the low clouds it looked really impressive and lower than it really was


The one I saw was low enough to nearly take out a bunch of trikes that were busy entertaining the crowd, they scattered in all directions :lol:

You want to be at the thresh hold of 27R at Ortia to get some good views, Lufthansa and Air France come in around 0900 to 1100.
Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (retired).
 
CO764
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:59 pm

Looking at the flightradar24 playback, it seems as though they maintained 3000 for about three minutes. There doesn't seem to be much traffic in the area except for a Norwegian 787 into OAK that's well clear of their flight path, so I'm a little confused as to why they maintained 3k for so long. Perhaps the pilots had issues contacting the departure controller so they maintained the altitude that they were last cleared to?

Or maybe they requested to maintain 3000 until they passed the bridge for a better view? Would that ever happen?
 
ChrisKen
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Re: LH A380 lower than usual pass over the Golden Gate Bridge

Fri Mar 09, 2018 5:26 pm

Georgetown wrote:
My question is this: it really is an incredible view from an airplane at that area, there’s no chance the pilot would request to fly at a lower altitude for sightseeing purposes would they?
Thanks!

SFO is a favourite for retiring Lufthansa 'Heavy' Captains. Usually take the 'scenic route' out during their last departure (usually just a tactically slow climb rate).

Believe there's a pilots-eye video of this somewhere (Lufthansa A380). The retiring skipper also got to ride a Harley around the ramp, amongst other last trip frivolities.

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