Spotting at JFK Terminal 5

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting Trip Reports, USA | Posted on 25-11-2015


JFK Terminal 5 JetBlue

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 (JetBlue)

I recently flew out of New York JFK’s Terminal 5 following a family holiday. I had the opportunity to check out the spotting opportunities here and take some pictures to report back for this post.

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 is actually quite easy and first off, I didn’t have any problems with security or other passengers by discretely using binoculars and a camera. In fact, there was another spotter using the opportunity to take some pictures of passing aircraft using a large camera lens while I was there.

Terminal 5

New York JFK’s Terminal 5 is home to JetBlue Airways. It is one of the newer facilities at the airport, having superseded the original TWA Flight Center terminal and the hasty extension which was put up to handle expansion.

Outside T5 you can still see the TWA Flight Center, which (as we reported recently) is soon to be turned into an airport hotel and business center.

Other airlines using Terminal 5 include Aer Lingus (whom I was flying on this visit) and Hawaiian Airlines.


Landside Spotting


View of A380s at JFK Terminal 4, seen from outside Terminal 5.

At the departures level there is a smoking area next to the entrance and kerbside drop-off at Terminal 5. This overlooks a couple of the gates, a runway and taxiway in the distance, and some gates at Terminal 4. As you can see from the picture above, these were dominated by international airlines, including Airbus A380s and other wide-bodies.

JFK Terminal 5 AirTrain.

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 AirTrain walkway.

At the opposite end of the terminal a walkway links Terminal 5 to the AirTrain people mover which links all of the terminals. From the elevated position there are some good views across to the British Airways Terminal 7, and runway 13L/31R. You also have some distant views of some cargo and remote parking aprons.


Airside Spotting

Once through security it is quite easy to spot at Terminal 5. All three concourses can be walked along, allowing you to log aircraft parked at the gates.

Places which are particularly good for spotting include:

Spotting at JFK

Terminal 5 view near gate 30.

Gate 30. From here you can see Terminal 7 and runway 13L/31R.

Delta 717

A Delta Boeing 717 taxies past gate 15 at JFK Terminal 5.

Gate 15. Soft seats and a panoramic view of aircraft passing on the adjacent taxiway. A lot of Delta aircraft pass here on the way to Terminal 4. You can also see aircraft using runways 04L/22R, 04R/22L and the end of runway 13L/31R here. Photography is easy given the close proximity.

Behind you, close to gates 11 and 12, you can see across to the Delta terminal and runway 13R/31L beyond.


T5 Rooftop

View of British Airways terminal from T5 Rooftop.

T5 Rooftop

Whilst enjoying the views I heard a couple of automated announcements for the “T5 Rooftop”. Curious as to what it might be, I wandered along to gate 28. There I found a door with a sign and the hours of operation, so wandered through expecting a plane spotter’s paradise.

JFK Terminal 5 Rooftop

What I found was, in fact, just a dog walking/smoking area which faced the roadside area. Walking to the end I could see across to the British Airways terminal, but the view was limited and nothing compared to what was offer (in the warmth) at gate 30.


Other places for spotting at JFK

We recently put together this full guide to spotting at New York JFK Airport, which is especially useful for locations outside the airport.

Austrian Airlines Fokker fleet sold to Alliance Aviation

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Australasia, Australia, Austria, Miscellaneous Spotting, Western Europe | Posted on 25-11-2015


Austrian Fokker 100

Austrian Airlines has completed a deal that will see its entire Fokker aircraft fleet sent to Australia’s Alliance Aviation.

Austrian currently flies 15 Fokker 100s and six Fokker 70s on regional and domestic routes.

All 21 aircraft will be heading to Australia from December 2015 to December 2017 as newer Embraer 195 aircraft enter the fleet, replacing the Fokkers on a one-for-one basis. The purchase price for the Fokker aircraft is USD 15 million, and will comprise an issue of new shares in Alliance and a cash component.

By Phil Vabre [GFDL ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Phil Vabre [GFDL or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Alliance Aviation has a fleet of 15 Fokker 100 and eight Fokker 70 jet planes, and says it is the largest global operator of these types of aircraft. The company operates bases in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland. For many years it has been a customer of Austrian Technik Bratislava, which specializes in the repair and maintenance of Fokker aircraft. A long-term service agreement between Alliance Aviation and Austrian Technik Bratislava was just concluded in the spring of 2015.

Qantas Retro Roo II takes flight

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Australasia, Australia, Spotting News | Posted on 17-11-2015



Qantas has revealed its new Retro Roo II aircraft, which harks back to its classic early 1960s livery.

Boeing 737-800 VH-VXQ, which was painted in Townsville, wears the livery to celebrate the airline’s 95th anniversary.


The Retro Roo livery originally appeared on the airline’s first Boeing 707 jetliners from 1959-1961. The 707 represented a step-change in aviation and Qantas was the first carrier outside the United States to operate the jet. In 1959, Qantas used it to become the first airline to operate regular passenger jet services across the Pacific Ocean, connecting Sydney and San Francisco.
Qantas was also the first airline to offer a round-the-world jet service with the 707. The flying time was 70 hours compared to 127 hours with the Super Constellation aircraft that the 707 replaced. Today a Qantas flight from Sydney to London stops just once, in Dubai, and takes 21 flying hours.

Welcoming the freshly-painted Qantas retro jet into a hangar with more than 300 employees, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce described the vintage livery as a flying tribute to the airline’s history of innovation.

“As we celebrate our 95th birthday today, I hope this livery inspires a sense of pride in what our national airline has achieved during all those years of taking Australians around the world and bringing them safely home again,” said Mr Joyce.

“A large part of the national pride people feel towards the flying kangaroo comes from the fact it has been responsible for so many innovations in global aviation.”

TAM A350 flights open for reservations

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Brazil, Miscellaneous Spotting, South America | Posted on 17-11-2015


TAM A350 flights

TAM has opened its first Airbus A350XWB flights for reservations ahead of the type’s imminent delivery.

The airline will inaugurate service with the A350 on its Sao Paulo Guarulhos – Manaus domestic service from 25th January 2016, operating once per day until at least the end of February. According to World Airline Route News it appears in the schedule until at least April.

You can book TAM A350 flights here:

Other destinations that TAM plans to operate their A350s on are Sao Paulo Guarulhos to both Miami and Madrid, starting in March and April respectively. TAM has a total of 27 A350 XWB on order and we would expect many more routes to be announced soon. Check out our A350 Routes Page.

Fleet renewal at TAP Portugal with large Airbus order

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting, Portugal, Western Europe | Posted on 13-11-2015


TAP Portugal Airbus Order

TAP Portugal has announced its planned fleet renewal by placing a large order for 53 Airbus aircraft valued at $8.5 billion at list prices.

The new order will cover both its medium and long haul fleets, and comprises:

  • 15 A320neo
  • 24 A321neo
  • 14 A330-900neo

Interestingly, this new order will replace a previously placed order for 12 A350-900 aircraft.

“Our latest order for 14 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft and 39 A320neo Family aircraft reflects our ongoing commitment to provide our customers with the next generation of fuel efficient aircraft,” said Fernando Pinto, TAP Portugal CEO. “The A330neo, like the A320neo Family, will give us the flexibility to enter new markets and improve the frequency of existing ones due to its combination of high reliability, low operating costs and exceptional comfort,” he added.

TAP Portugal is an all Airbus customer, currently operating 43 A320 Family aircraft and 18 Widebody Family aircraft.

Minneapolis St Paul spotting area opens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 07-11-2015


Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area

Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area by Emmanuel Canaan

Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area by Emmanuele Canaan

Photo by Emmanuel Canaan

Minneapolis St. Paul Airport in Minnesota has enamored itself to local plane spotters and enthusiasts by opening a new place to watch aircraft on airport property.

“I’ve always thought MSP Airport should have a place for the public to watch airplanes land and takeoff,” said Dan Boivin, Chair of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, at a ribbon cutting event. “When MSP first opened its doors for commercial air travel, people were able to come right up to the fence. Then, when Terminal 1-Lindbergh was constructed, we offered an indoor observation deck to anyone who wished to make the trip to the airport. But since 2002, when new security regulations were put in place, we haven’t had a designated public space for this activity – until now.”

The Minneapolis St Paul spotting area includes parking, picnic tables, and benches. Trees have been planted that, when mature, will provide shade and natural beauty – perhaps not ideal during the typically harsh winters the area experiences, but no doubt very much welcome by local spotters.

Views available from the spotting area include all four runways, plus terminals 1 and 2. The airport said that they had seen the need for such a place when observing spotters finding spaces alongside the roads and Cell Phone Lot at the airport trying to find good vantage points.

Access to the viewing area is from the west side of the airport. To get to the viewing area from Richfield or Cedar Avenue, travel on 66th St. east to Longfellow Avenue and follow Longfellow south to Cargo Road. Follow Cargo Road to its end at the new viewing area. From Bloomington or I-494, take 24th Ave. north to 77th St. Take 77th St. west to Longfellow Road, and follow Longfellow north to Cargo Road. Turn right on Cargo Road and follow it to the new viewing area, located just past and the Federal Express shipping facility.

The airport has produced a handy map with driving instructions. Download it here:

The space is open every day, dawn to dusk.

Photographs on this post are kindly provided by the excellent aviation photographer Emmanuel Canaan. Check out his website!


World Airports Spotting Guide Book

Spotting at Burlington Airport, Vermont

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting Trip Reports, USA | Posted on 04-11-2015


Burlington Spotting Guide

Burlington Airport is the busiest and largest in Vermont, one of the New England states. I recently visited and checked out the opportunities for spotting here, and what the airport had to offer.

Whilst it is the busiest in Vermont, Burlington is not a major airport by any means, handling about 640,000 passengers in 2014. But it does have some interesting movements and aircraft to see.

Burlington has two runways – 15/33 is the main strip which most movements use, whereas 1/19 is a smaller cross runway used by light aircraft movements.

On the north side of the airport is the Burlington Air National Guard base, which is home to a squadron of F-16 jets. There are a few historic jets preserved outside, which can be seen from the terminal and car parks.

The main airlines flying to Burlington are Allegiant Air, American Eagle, Delta/Delta Connection, JetBlue, Porter Airlines and United/United Express. Most of these use commuter regional jets, but larger types are common in the summer months on seasonal services. On my visit there were four airliner movements, two each by American Eagle and Delta Connection, and both using Bombardier CRJ aircraft.

FedEx is the main cargo operator, and on my visit a Boeing 757 freighter was parked outside the cargo hangar. Close to it were around six business jets parked up.

General aviation and flight training is popular at Burlington, with aircraft parked up to the south of the terminal.



Spotting at Burlington

Surprisingly I found that spotting at Burlington was not a problem, and in fact there were facilities in place to aid in watching aircraft!

Spotting at Burlington - Dog Walking Park

Spotting at Burlington – Dog Walking Park

I had already noted the Air National Guard base before visiting, so decided to keep a low profile when it came to pointing cameras and binoculars about. My first stop was the Dog Walking Park situated on the western side of the runway about half a mile north west of the terminal. It is at the end of Kirby Road, and has car parking alongside the enclosed park which faces the airport perimeter fence, runway and parallel taxiway. This was a great spot to take some pictures of aircraft at close quarters as they taxied for takeoff, and didn’t seem to raise any suspicion from people walking dogs.

Spotting at Burlington - Car Park

Spotting at Burlington – Car Park

A seat for watching the aircraft in the multi-storey car park at Burlington Airport.

A seat for watching the aircraft in the multi-storey car park at Burlington Airport.

Next, I drove to the airport’s multi-storey car park and made my way to the highest level from where you have a grandstand view over the airfield. You can see the runways, Air National Guard base, cargo apron and light aircraft parking. Aircraft parked at the terminal gates are obscured, but you can see them if they taxi. Around half way up the car park, I found a park bench situated in one of the corners for those who want to watch the aircraft.

Spotting at Burlington

The seating area in the walkway from the car park

Inside the terminal there are three areas for watching aircraft. The first is the northern walkway from the car park, which has seats overlooking one of the gates.

Spotting at Burlington

Seats next to the windows inside the terminal.

At the southern end of the terminal is a room which also has seats facing a window looking over some more gates.

Spotting at Burlington Observation Tower

Spotting at Burlington Observation Tower

In what was presumably the former control tower, an observation room has been created. I found it by chance, but it is signposted and accessed via a steep set of stairs. Inside you have views over the whole airfield. The glass is slanted, but acceptable for photography. It was nice to see an airport in the USA providing opportunities to watch aircraft in comfort!

Finally, continuing south from the terminal along Airport Dr, you will see some light aircraft parked on remote areas not visible from the other locations. The small Eldredge Cemetery and its access road have views through the fence.



Comac C919 rolled out

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, China, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 02-11-2015


Comac C919

The first Comac C919 airliner has been rolled out at a ceremony in China.

The twin jet regional airliner is the first large scale airliner to be built in China, and was unveiled at the Shanghai factory that it has been developed in. It can carry up to 168 passengers in a single-class layout, with a range of up to 5,555km. It is intended to fulfill the needs of airlines operating trunk routes in China and beyond, and is a competitor for the Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Embraer E-Jet families of aircraft which dominate.

The rollout of the new aircraft, registered B-001A (c/n 101) at Comac’s facility near Shanghai Pudong, was to great fanfare and attended by politicians and journalists eager to see it.

There will be six flying prototype aircraft involved in certification, along with two grounded examples. First flight is expected in early 2016.

Orders for the C919 so far total over 500 aircraft, making it a large scale success. All of the orders are from Chinese companies, apart from an order of 20 examples from GECAS in the USA. Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Air and Sichuan Airlines are all expected to take delivery of the type.

Recently Comac announced its new ARJ-21 airliner will enter service in February 2016.


Cathay Pacific’s new livery revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Hong Kong, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 31-10-2015


Cathay Pacific's New Livery

Revealed via YouTube is Cathay Pacific’s new livery, which has been painted on Boeing 777-300ER B-KPH.

The still image above is not too clear, however it doesn’t appear to be too much of a change from the existing livery. You can watch the official video posted on Youtube here, which shows it a lot clearer:

What do you think?

Boston Spotting Hotel – Hilton Boston Logan Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in North America, Spotting Hotels, USA | Posted on 29-10-2015


Boston spotting hotel

I recently visited Boston and checked out the Hilton Boston Logan hotel for its spotting opportunities.

Based on previous research, this seemed like the best Boston spotting hotel, so I was looking forward to what it offered.

The hotel is situated behind the terminal complex and multi-storey parking garages. It is linked via the public walkway from terminals A and E, making it easy to walk directly from your flight to the hotel lobby.

It has nine floors and two wings in a L shape.

Rooms on the higher floors are naturally the best options, with the top floor being the Executive Level. My room was on the eighth floor and I had the choice of facing either the Terminal A cul-de-sac, or Terminal E and the biz jet area. I chose the latter in the hope of seeing more movements on the distant runways.

In reality, over the three days of my stay the runway usage switched regularly, and with Boston’s criss-cross of four main runways this means you’ll be looking in different directions all the time. It also means that you’ll be able to see most movements from either side of the hotel. Aircraft arriving and departing are a little distant unless you have a good pole or binoculars. For those who are happy with SBS or Flightradar24 you’ll be able to tie everything up easily (albeit with a 5 minute delay on many flights using FR24).

View from my room of Terminal E and the biz jet ramp.

View from my room of Terminal E and the biz jet ramp.

From my room I had a great view of the ever changing range of biz jets. There were usually 5-10 parked up at any time. I could also see aircraft using the international Terminal E, and aircraft being towed to/from the maintenance hangars and remote parking stands used by day-stopping airliners.

View of the Terminal A cul-de-sac.

View of the Terminal A cul-de-sac.

If you don’t choose a room facing the cul-de-sac, don’t worry – the windows next to the elevators have the same view, with seats and an amazing view of the Boston skyline. You can easily read off the Delta and Southwest airliners parked here.


The Hilton Boston Logan is probably the best Boston spotting hotel you’ll find, although I’d be happy to hear reviews from any of the others. In addition to the walkways from the terminal, the hotel offers a courtesy shuttle to all terminals, the T subway station, and rental car lot.

Too book a room at the Hilton Boston Logan head to this page.