Estonian Air moving into Swedish domestic market

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Estonia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Sweden, Western Europe | Posted on 28-08-2015


Estonian Air CRJ900 at Stockholm Arlanda

Estonian Air has announced plans to move into the Swedish domestic market by announcing two new routes.

The airline will commence services from the winter timetable this year, starting on 25 October, on the following routes:4

  • Stockholm Arlanda – Arvidsjaur
  • Arvidsjaur – Gallivare

Both flights will operate 11x weekly and act as an extension of each other (ie Stockholm – Arvidsjaur – Gallivare). They will be operated by Estonian’s CRJ900 aircraft equipment.

The airline also operates from Tallinn to Stockholm Arlanda with the CRJ900.


Spotting at Minsk National Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Belarus, Eastern Europe, Spotting Trip Reports | Posted on 29-07-2015


Minsk Airport Terminal

In May I travelled to Minsk National Airport at the end of an amazing flight on board the last scheduled Tupolev Tu-154 flight in Europe with Belavia (you can read about my trip here).

This was my first time visiting Minsk, so I took the opportunity to check out the spotting situation and make a note of what kind of things you can see.

Minsk National has a single runway, 13/31, with a series of aprons and taxiways along its north eastern side.

To the north is the main passenger terminal, which is in a semi-circular shape with jet bridges off the main building, remote stands at the north end and also opposite to the south.MinskERJ195

Further south is another large apron which was full of Ilyushin IL-76s, Antonov An-12s and a Boeing 747-200 on my visit. All of these were freighter aircraft operating for Ruby Star and TransAviaExport. However, a number of the aircraft on this ramp and parked to the side of it are currently in storage or withdrawn from use.

This made my visit quite interesting, as it’s not often you see 12 IL-76s all parked together these days. In addition, some more Belavia Tu-154s (some retired), including the Government example, were also visible a little further on.



Airlines and Operators

Naturally the biggest operator at Minsk is Belavia. It currently operates a fleet of Boeing 737-300, -500, -800, CRJ100, 200, and Embraer 175, 195 aircraft.

Other carriers with regular service include Aeroflot, Air China, Austrian Airlines, Etihad Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines, Ukraine International, and Uzbekistan Airways.

TransAvia and Ruby Star operate most of the cargo flights, but it’s not uncommon to see Turkish Airlines Cargo and other ad-hoc services by other carriers.

Minsk Airport 737s


Spotting at Minsk

Minsk National Airport Map

There are a few places to see aircraft at Minsk, but you should always be discrete as the hobby is not necessarily understood.

From the road leading up to departures level outside the terminal, as well as the open air car park to the north, it’s possible to see aircraft parked on the remote stands (1 on the map)

If you are flying from the airport, once in the departure lounge there are large windows overlooking the apron and the cargo/maintenance area beyond (2 on the map). You’ll also see movements on the runway.

Walking through the departures area, there are a number of gate areas which jut out towards the ramp. Each of these has a slightly different view of the cargo ramps, so it’s useful if a particular aircraft is eluding you.

Because this airport is quite remote (it is literally at the end of the motorway from the city), it is not easy to explore around the airfield without a local guide and car.

There are some withdrawn airliners at the southern end of the airfield, behind the maintenance hangars, including two former Belavia Tu-134s. These are just visible from aircraft taxiing to the runway if you look towards the trees.


The mix of active and stored Il-76s at Minsk National, as seen from the departure lounge.

Spotting from the terminal departure lounge at Minsk Airport

Spotting from the terminal departure lounge at Minsk Airport


Preserved Airliners

A really nice aspect of Minsk National Airport which was a pleasant surprise is its collection of preserved airliners representing Belarus aviation history. These are lined up alongside the main road just outside the terminal, each with a small information board; you can’t miss them, and it’s easy to wander over and take some pictures. The collection includes:

EW-85581, Tupolev Tu-154B-2, Belavia
EW-76709, Ilyushin IL-76T, TransAvia Export Cargo Airlines
EW-237CD, Antonov An-2R
EW-88202, Yakovlev 40S2, Miskavia
EW-47291, Antonov An-24RV, Gomelavia
CCCP-65036, Tupolev Tu-134A, Aeroflot

Minsk Preserved Tu-154


Minsk Preserved Tu-134

Many of these identities are not authentic to the aircraft’s actual history, having been painted as such for the sake of the collection. However, they are all in excellent condition.




Spotting Guide Bookdestin3d

Minsk is just one of over 300 airports to feature in my new World Airports Spotting Guides book. Find out more here:

The book has detailed spotting locations, maps, spotting hotels, museums and much more.

New Let L-410NG aircraft rolled out

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 17-07-2015



It’s the most successful aircraft to have been developed in the Czech Republic, and it’s still going strong. The Let L-410 first flew in 1969 and since then over 1,100 have been produced.

Now, a completely upgraded version has been produced and is about to start the certification process before an anticipated first delivery in 2017.

The L-410 NG model, which is a substantially upgraded turboprop commuter, inheriting the best of L-410UVP-E20 aircraft, and offering significantly improved characteristics. The aircraft is equipped with advanced avionics and build by modern production technologies.

Thanks to the new wing structure, with integral fuel tank and increased fuel capacity, the L 410 NG has a significantly longer maximum range (2500 km) and endurance (10 hours). The all-metal, high-wing twin turboprop can transport 19 passengers and thanks to its increased maximum payload (2154 kg/4749 lb) and larger front luggage compartment increasing the total luggage compartments volume to 2,98 m3/105,24 cu.ft, the aircraft  can carry up to 400 kg more luggage/cargo. The L 410 NG aircraft is powered by new more powerful GE H85 engines with maximum take-off power 850 HP  and AV-725 propellers. The new engine gearbox enables significant external and internal noise reduction due to lower maximum propeller speed reduced from 2080 to 1950 RPM. Thanks to engine power increase maximal cruise speed will rise to 417 km/hr TAS. The state of art  Glass Cockpit Technology with  the latest avionics from Garmin (G3000) provides the highest level of flight safety and comfort for the crew. L 410 NG with the most spacious fuselage in its category (passenger cabin volume 17,9m3/632 cu.ft) will also offer completely modernized passenger cabin interior and passenger seats with the highest standard of comfort and providing similarly as the  L 410 UVP-E20 model maximum versatility and opportunity to use the aircraft in number of versions for a number of various types of operation. Service life of the aircraft will be also significantly increased (30 000 FH and/or cycles  as minimum).


The first flight of the prototype is expected shortly from its Kunovice base.

Ryanair enters Israel market

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Eastern Europe, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, Middle East, Poland | Posted on 07-07-2015


Ryanair Marrakech

Ryanair has announced its first flights from Israel, with three new routes planned.

The airline will serve Eilat Ovda Airport from Budapest, Kaunas and Krakow from 5th November 2015 using Boeing 737-800s.

Ovda Airport is a joint civil-military field at the southern tip of the country, and around 35 miles north of Eilat, and acts as a secondary airport for the city. It mainly handles seasonal charter and holiday flights from across Europe and Russia, as well as some domestic routes.

10 Airports You Need to Visit

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Colombia, Eastern Europe, France, Frankfurt, Germany, North America, North Korea, Portugal, South America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-07-2015


The world is full of such a variety of airports and each has its own appeal to spotters. I’ve put together this list of airports which every spotter should try to visit at some time to help enrich their aviation interests and make the most of their hobby.


1. Everett Paine Field

Paine Field Spotting

Home of Boeing’s widebodie production lines and the world’s largest building – currently responsible for producing 747s, 777s, 787s and the occasional 767. Once aircraft have been completed they are taken to the paint assembly building, and then placed outside whilst final preparations are made.

Aircraft undertake testing regularly once complete, so you’ll always see something of interest using the airport’s single main runway.

Aircraft that have been completed are sometimes placed in storage at the airport – seen recently with some early 787s and 747-8s. You may also be lucky to see the first Boeing 727 aircraft, which is preserved at the airport, along with a De Havilland Comet 4 and some other historic aircraft.

Head to the Future of Flight centre for a grandstand view over the airport. Here’s a post about spotting at Paine Field.


2. Pyongyang

Pyongyang Line-Up

It’s not the busiest, and some might be a little sensitive about the way North Korea is run, but purely from an enthusiast’s point of view this is a very interesting place. Air Koryo, the national carrier, still flies classic Russian types such as the Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204, IL-62 and IL-18.

Pyongyang airport recently opened its brand new terminal, which looks much more akin to those found in the West. But to be able to experience the aircraft here you’ll need to take part in an organised tour, such as those on offer with Juche Travel Service.


3. London City

London City Airport Morning Ramp

The British capital is served by many airports, but London City is by far one of the world’s more unusual. Built on a former dock at the heart of the city, it makes for a challenging and restricted environment to operate large airliners in. Yet every day aircraft arrive from across Europe, and even New York. Its location among the skyscrapers of London’s financial district means the short runway requires a steep approach angle and only certified aircraft are permitted to operate there.

It’s easy to watch aircraft come and go here from the docks opposite the runway, or under the approach paths at either end.

Here’s a post about London City Behind The Scenes.


4. Los Angeles International


With California’s amazing climate, endless sunshine, and an incredible mix of aircraft, LAX should be on anyone’s list of must-visit airports.

Los Angeles has four runways and nine passenger terminals. Each major US airline has a decent presence here, as well as large airliners from across the globe, and leisure airlines from Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. On the south side of the airport, cargo airliners and biz jets complete the lineup.

Head to Imperial Hill or the In ‘n’ Out Burger restaurant for the best views. Here’s a post about spotting at Los Angeles.


5. Frankfurt Main

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Germany’s busiest airport, and one of the main gateways to Europe. Like LAX, its mix is mouthwatering to the enthusiast, comprising all main European carriers, low-cost airlines, leisure carriers, cargo, regional, and long-haul traffic.

Spotting is not as good here as in days gone by, but the airport still provides two official locations – at Terminal 2 and alongside runway 18 – and there are some other good spots to watch aircraft.


6. Toulouse Blagnac

A350 © Airbus S.A.S 2013 Photo by H. Goussé

Europe’s busiest aircraft manufacturing airport. Most Airbus A319, A320, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft are constructed here, as well as ATR turboprops. Regular airline traffic isn’t much to write home about, but who cares when you’ve got airliners destined for all corners of the globe undergoing completion and flight testing in the southern France sun?

There are various places to watch aircraft around the airport perimeter, and an official viewing deck at the terminal. Plus, you can arrange tours of the Airbus plant, and visit historic aircraft at the on-site museum.


7. Funchal

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When space is limited, sometimes the only option is to build your airport runway on stilts. That’s exactly what heppend at Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. When demand from leisure airlines grew, the runway was extended out from the cliff-side that it occupies to allow larger aircraft to be handled. The position of this airport also means aircraft take an interesting approach path before landing, often in crosswind conditions.

Spotters can position themselves on the hillside above the runway for some excellent photographs and videos.


8. Phoenix Deer Valley

Phoenix Deer Valley

Unlike other airports on this list, Deer Valley isn’t on the route map of lots of scheduled airlines or a place to see the latest Dreamliners and Airbus A380s. Yet it is one of the busiest airports in the world. In particular, it is actually the busiest airport in the world for biz jet movements, according to recent statistics.

So if you’re looking for something different, or like to log and photograph Citations, Global Expresses and Gulfstreams, this is the place to head to.

The Arizona airport has two runways and is in the north east of the city. You can watch movements from the official observation deck on top of the terminal building, which even pipes in ATC broadcasts.


9. Bogota


Probably the most interesting of South America’s main airports. Bogota, in Colombia, is a hub for Aviana, LAN Colombia, Copa Airlines and VivaColombia. This is great in itself, but the airport is also one of the last bastions for some older jets, like Boeing 727s of AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas, and F-28s and DC-3s of the Colombian Government.

The airport also has a nice collection of preserved aircraft on the military side of the airport.

Spotting is possible inside the terminal, or from the end of the runways if you have a car.


10. Istanbul Ataturk

Istanbul Spotting

Europe’s latest up-and-coming airport thanks mainly to the explosive growth of Turkish Airlines, which is trying to emulate what Middle East carriers are doing in connecting east and west. As such, this main base for the airline (it also operates from nearby Sabiha Gokcen Airport) sees a constant stream of the carrier’s red tails coming and going.

Traffic comprises a good mix of European and long-haul flights, with the vast majority naturally made up of Turkish Airlines and AtlasJet. The draw for enthusiasts is the growing fleet of the national airline, and the opportunity for photography in the warm climate. A good mix of cargo carriers can also be seen.

There are a number of places to spot from round the perimeter, as well as the excellent FlyInn shopping mall which is great for viewing and photographing aircraft from the cafe balcony. There is also a nice aviation museum on the southern boundary.


World Airports Spotting Guides

World Airports Spotting Guide

My upcoming book, World Airports Spotting Guides covers over 300 of the world’s airports, including details on what you can see there, and where to spot from. Many of the guides also include the best spotting hotels and aviation museum attractions. Find out more and pre-order the book here:

Transaero Tiger 747 logojet revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Russia | Posted on 23-06-2015





Transaero Airlines has painted one of its Boeing 747-400s in a striking tiger motif to promote the Amur Tiger Centre and promote the environmental and conservation issues surrounding rare species.

The Amur tiger has been chosen to symbolize the project as these subspecies rank among the biggest living cats and the most endangered big cats in the world. According to the surveys of 2015, the population of Amur tigers in Russia has stabilized to reach 510-540 individuals, and started to  increase sustainably. In the coming decade, the fate of Amur tigers and the wildlife in general will depend in significant part upon concerted actions by the international community.

The aircraft which has been painted is EI-XLN, which can be found on high density domestic and international routes from Moscow.

Belavia Tu-154 flight video

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Belarus, Eastern Europe, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Trip Reports, Spotting Videos, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 16-06-2015


At the end of May I was on board Belavia’s Tupolev Tu-154 EW-85748 on what was billed as the final regular scheduled service of the type in western Europe. The flight was from Geneva to Minsk, and you can read the report here.

I’ve put together this video of the flight. I hope you enjoy the sound of those engines!

The final Tupolev TU-154 scheduled flight in Europe – trip report

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Belarus, Eastern Europe, Russia and CIS, Spotting Trip Reports, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 01-06-2015


TU154 last scheduled flight

A few days ago I made the journey to Geneva in Switzerland to join a special flight which would be a first for me, but evidently a last for Europe.

Belavia, the national airline of Belarus, are the last European carrier to operate the Tupolev TU-154 in scheduled service and had made a decision to cease flying the type on such services in favour of its modern equipment, such as the Boeing 737 and Embraer 175/195 which are much more suited to modern travelers, unlike the Russian relics that were so dominant until the early 2000s.

Whilst Belavia doesn’t usually operate its TU-154s to Geneva, or on many scheduled services for that matter, Friday 29th May had been chosen as the symbolic last flight where it would substitute the smoking tri-jet in place of the usual CRJ or EMB-175 equipment.

I checked in at 9am, with most of the passengers clearly there for the event, having booked (like me) through the specialist tour agency Merlintour, which has organised three previous trips to Belarus for oldjet fans to experience flights on old Russian equipment. Arriving at the gate in one of Geneva’s satellites, around 90% of the crowd around me waiting for boarding to be called had cameras around their necks and were chatting excitedly about the upcoming flight; a few regular passengers, clearly not expecting this, looked on bemused.


Eventually boarding was initiated. Our aircraft was parked at a remote stand and we were taken in two buses. Once there, passengers were allowed off ten at a time in order to give an opportunity to take some photos without crowding the ramp. The captain was stood underneath the nose, looking smart (and hot; it was 28 degrees out) in his full uniform, posing for selfies with anyone who asked.


This was a first for me. I’d never flown a TU-154, or any Russian jet, before. Our aircraft was EW-85748. It sat glistening in the sun with mountains as a backdrop. Although we all think of this classic jet as old, it was in fact built in 1994 and was younger than the Lufthansa Boeing 737-500 that taxied past as we took photos. But the technology, design and style was definitely old and, clambering aboard, the cabin felt like something from a bygone age. It was split into two sections, with old-fashioned designs on the walls, seats that didn’t look like they could withstand much, and the smell of a museum piece.

TU-154 cabin

Because it took so long to board, we missed our departure slot. We sat for over an hour, with no air conditioning and a general hum from the APU that was louder than most modern jets at full thrust. Most agreed that this was not a problem, and any extra time on board was welcome.


We eventually taxied off under a water cannon salute by the fire service, and performed a sprightly, yet shallow, takeoff towards France. The noise was immense and the aircraft seemed to scream as she took flight. Soon we commenced a wide turn back over Lake Geneva, with those on the starboard side treated to fantastic views over Mont Blanc and the Alps. From my port-side window seat I had a classic view over the wing, which seemed more flexible in flight than it looked when on the ground.


During the flight the aisle became crowded. Passengers wanted to mingle and chat, and to have a look at the toilets and the view from the last window, which looked out on the engines. There were also TV crews from Belarussian stations interviewing the crew and passengers. The crew performed their duties as well as can be expected considering passengers were rarely seated, but as it came to the meal and drinks service we were told fairly sternly to sit down and shut up (I paraphrase), after which everyone had the choice of chicken or beef with rice, along with some sliced cucumber and a dry bun. Hardly nouvelle cuisine, but I was famished.



Drinks came afterwards – some kind of Russian Champagne knock-off, and brown water masquerading as coffee. We didn’t mind.

The flight took around 2 hours and 40 minutes, passing over Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Belarus. The engines whined down around 20 minutes before landing, and we made our way around the south of Minsk. The gear was deployed quite a way out, evidently to help slow the beast down. Landing was on runway 31, and was as smooth as can be, but again the engines went into a screaming frenzy as reverse thrust was deployed.


A slow taxi past the modern terminal took us to a remote stand where, again, fire tenders were waiting to create an arch in salute to the last flight. My first and second water cannon salutes in one day! Outside, more TV crews were on the ramp to capture the moment.



Following a brief ramp tour, Belavia’s Commercial Director, Technical Director, and the pilot from our flight, took the opportunity to present the airline’s history, and future vision, and talk about today’s flight. It was confirmed that as more new aircraft join the fleet, the three remaining TU-154s would be retired, likely by September 2016. Between now and then, they will operate only charters, such as taking mining groups to Siberia, or holidaymakers to Bulgaria.


The flight was definitely over too quick, but a real experience. The atmosphere on board was fun and both the crews and organisers from Merlintour were completely understanding of, and prepared for, what a bunch of aviation enthusiasts would want – namely lots of opportunities for taking pictures, videos, and clambering about all over the aircraft. I think it’s great that a carrier like Belavia would embrace such an opportunity when they could simply want to talk about their new aircraft and quietly put away their old ones.


Transaero Airlines new livery appears

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Russia | Posted on 22-05-2015


Transaero Airlines new livery

Transaero Airlines has taken delivery of a new Boeing 737-800, seen here, which is in the airline’s new livery.

The aircraft, registered EI-RUR, features high speed internet and mobile phone connectivity.

The airline plans to use this new livery and corporate identity for all new aircraft joining the airline’s fleet.  This will be the first step in enhancing Transaero’s corporate identity that has remained unchanged for more than two decades and has received wide recognition both in Russia and abroad following the active development of Transaero Airlines and strengthening of its position in the international transportation market.


Top 10 airports to number crunch at

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, China, Dubai, Eastern Europe, Frankfurt, Germany, Heathrow, Japan, Middle East, North America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 30-04-2015


If you’re the kind of spotter who likes to number crunch… that is, collect aircraft registration (or tail) numbers… then there are certain airports and spotting locations that are made for you. At these locations you’re likely to see lots of aircraft in a short period of time, and make the most numbers in your book possible.

Whilst everyone reading this will live in a different location and probably already have seen the aircraft of certain airlines, hopefully at least some of the airports will be an inspiration of how to make more inroads into filling your logbooks on future spotting trips.

If you have a particular favourite, or would like to suggest another airport, leave a comment below!


1. Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International


Atlanta Airport

Atlanta has been for many years the busiest airport in the world. Last year it handled almost 900,000 aircraft movements and, as home to Delta Air Lines, most of them were flown by its aircraft and those of its feeder partners. Southwest Airlines is also a major carrier here, along with a number of interesting international airlines.

Atlanta doesn’t offer any official viewing areas, but for most spotters here the only place to go is the Renaissance Concourse Hotel on the southern perimeter. A room (which will have a balcony) facing the airport on a higher floor will be paradise for plane spotters. It is a bit distant to photograph airliners on anything but the nearest runway, but with good binoculars and the help of flight tracking software you will log hundreds of aircraft registrations each day.


2. Dallas Fort Worth


Dallas Ft Worth

A huge airport in Texas, with seven runways and a complex of five terminals in the central area. Dallas Fort Worth is the home base of American Airlines, whose fleet of aircraft numbers almost 1,000 including that of regional partner Envoy and the former US Airways fleet. So if you need to add these aircraft to your log books, this airport is a good place to begin as movements are non-stop all day long.

The best place to watch aircraft at Dallas Fort Worth is the official Founders Plaza observation area off Highway 114. You’ll see a lot of aircraft movements from here, but with so many runways it’s hard to catch everything!

You can also do a loop on the Skylink Train monorail which passes all terminals with elevated views over many gate areas.


3. Oshkosh Wittman Regional



Oshkosh for most of the year is a quiet regional airport with various general aviation and executive aircraft movements, along with historic aircraft from the interesting EAA Museum on site. However, come here for a week at the end of July each year and you’ll encounter the world’s busiest airport as it plays host to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Air Show. In recent years up to 15,000 aircraft have flown into the airport over the course of the air show week, with number crunchers filling multiple notebooks and all available time trying to catch everything! One pro tip is to photograph rows of aircraft and note them down later when you have more time, as logging everything simply becomes too demanding.

Most aircraft visiting Oshkosh during the air show are light aircraft, however you will also see many interesting experimental, historic, military and airliner aircraft in attendance to sweeten the log.


4. London Heathrow


Airbus A380 at Heathrow's Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

Airbus A380 approaching Heathrow’s Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

The busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and one of the busiest airports for international flights. Heathrow is great for its mix of airlines arriving from all over the world. Although there are a lot of European and North American carriers, plus British Airways and Virgin Atlantic aircraft, interesting carriers more than make up for it. The airport is also one of the busiest for Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft.

There are a number of places to spot around the perimeter, plus the Renaissance Hotel has great views and even does spotter packages! One of the favourite spotting locations when arrivals are from the east is Myrtle Avenue.


5. Dubai International


Dubai Airport © Dubai Airports

Having newly taken the crown of the busiest international airport in the world from Heathrow (see above), Dubai continues to offer a mouthwatering mix of aircraft from around the world. True, most movements are by the impressive Emirates Airline, with its huge fleet of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, but other types from around the Middle East and Asia are fascinating to see and often very rare to the log book.

Spotting can be tricky (and misunderstood) here, so it’s best to find a hotel with a view, such as the excellent Sheraton Deira or the Nojoum Apartments.


6. Istanbul Ataturk International


Istanbul Spotting

Turkish Airlines’ phenomenal growth over recent years has thrust Istanbul’s two airports into the major leagues. Almost 57 million passengers used the larger Ataturk airport last year, mainly on Turkish Airlines’ flights, but also on a variety of other interesting carriers from around the world. It’s also a great airport for interesting cargo movements, often using some older airliners.

There is a shopping mall alongside one of the runways at Ataturk, with a seating area as part of the food court that overlooks the runway and is close enough to see all movements. Spotters are rarely bothered as long as they buy food and drink. Then, on an evening you can retire to a room at the Radisson Blu hotel, which has rooms overlooking the runway and taxiways.


7. Beijing Capital



With almost 90 million passengers flying through last year, Beijing Capital is teetering on the verge of becoming the busiest in the world. It is certainly the busiest in Asia and China, and an obvious place to make dents into logging aircraft, particularly from the many domestic and regional airlines in China, and the airlines from around the Far East.

Although Capital is due to be superseded by a new airport in the coming years, for the time being it will keep on going, bursting at the seams.

The best place to spot is at the southern end of the airport, where there are a variety of locations just under the approach path to two of the runways. These can be walked to from the terminal, or ask a taxi driver to take you.


8. Tokyo Haneda



Haneda is the busiest airport in Japan, and home to most of the domestic aircraft fleets in the country – namely the ones you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world… and there are lot of them! In addition to this, the airport is regaining international flights at a good rate after years of living in the shadow of nearby Narita.

The airport has three official observation decks – one on each terminal. These are the best, and easiest, places to spot from to log aircraft. However, the problem with them is that you can’t see all movements from just one deck. So you’ll have to move around a bit. The decks on Terminal 1 and 2 are probably the best.


9. Frankfurt Main


Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Frankfurt is another of Europe’s more interesting airports, and one of the busiest. Like Heathrow it has a really nice mix of international airlines flying in, as well as the fleet of Lufthansa and its partners, plus a variety of charter and low cost airlines.

Spotting at Frankfurt is possible from a few locations, but these are spread out and none is perfect for catching all movements. The observation area on Terminal 2 is good for seeing aircraft on the ground and the main runways. There is also a small viewing area alongside the departure-only runway 18, but you’ll need a taxi or car to get there.


10. Van Nuys



Van Nuys Airport is in the north of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley. It doesn’t handle any airline services at present, however it is on of the world’s busiest general aviation airports. It has two parallel runways, and last year handled over 260,000 aircraft movements. General aviation doesn’t just mean light aircraft… Van Nuys also handles a great number of executive movements, with all manner of biz jets.

The best place to spot aircraft at Van Nuys is the dedicated viewing area off Woodley Avenue at the end of Waterman Drive on the eastern side of the airport. You’ll see all runway movements from here.