Brussels Airport spotting guideLatest update:March 2012
About the airport
Brussels Airport (IATA: BRU, ICAO: EBBR) is Belgium's main airport. Approximately 18.5 million passengers make use of the airport each year, and numbers are rising every year. In 2000 a record number of passengers, 21.6 million, used the airport. Since the collapse of Sabena in November 2001, traffic fell from more than 21 million a year to only 14 million passengers. However, a lot of new airlines came to Brussels or expanded, and that's why passenger levels are back on the level of the late nineties.
Brussels Airport recorded 226.000 movements in 2010 (against 326.000 in 2000). Brussels Airport is also an important destination for cargo operations, which often brings special traffic. However, since the move of the European Headquarters from DHL to Leipzig, cargo traffic fell from 24.700 cargo flights a year in 2007, to 16.600 in 2008. In 2010 the airport received 10.800 cargo flights.
A large variety of small and large airlines have Brussels in their network. Jet Airways established a hub at Brussels Airport back in 2007 and now offers 6 flights a day to India and the US. As from September 2011, Jet Airways will again deploy it's B777-300 on some days to Brussels.
About our guide
In this spotting guide we will give you a detailed overview of the spots at Brussels Airport. Brussels is a nice airport for spotting with a great variety of different (smaller) airlines you won't see at other airports like Amsterdam or Frankfurt. Photographing planes is permitted and you should not get any troubles with airport authorities or police as long as you obey the law and park your car how you should. How to reach the spots is discussed at each specific spotting location's section. Spotting at Brussels Airport can be done by car, by train and also by foot. A car is absolutely not necessary as you can reach all the spots by public transport.
Therefore, if you're coming from abroad by plane, you can reach nearly all the spots described by public transport (train and bus).So Brussels Airport is a perfect airport for a one day spotting trip coming from abroad!
If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask them in our forum, loaded with tons of Brussels Airport spotters.
We wish you happy spotting at Brussels Airport!
What you need to know about the weather
Weather at Brussels Airport is typical Western European weather. It is dominated by structure less clouds with often periods of rain. Clear and sunny skies are rather exceptional, although that some days can be great for spotting. Winters in Belgium are quite mild, with most of the time no snowfall and summers are cool and rainy. Temperatures in winter will be around 0-5 degrees celsius, although on some days it can reach temperatures around minus 10-15 degrees celsius. In summer, temperatures are estimated at around 20 degrees, with some periods of around 30 degrees celsius.
Radio scanners and frequencies
The use and the possession of radio scanners is illegal in Belgium, however, they are widely used among the planespotters. As long as you keep it out sight of police patrols, you will encounter no problems for using your scanner. The following frequencies are used at Brussels Airport:
|Brussels Ground (North):||121.875|
|Brussels Ground (South):||118.050|
|Brussels Tower (25L):||118.600|
|Brussels Tower (25R):||120.775|
|Brussels Tower (07R/02):||118.600|
|Brussels Control:||128.200, 128.800, 131.100|
| Flightlevel spot locations
General popular spots (best spot locations, but many spotters)
Secret 'hidden' but popular spot
Traffic at Brussels AirportPassenger airlines
| Adria Airways|
Air Transat (seasonal)
| Central Connect Airlines|
CSA Czech Airlines
El Al Israel Airlines
| MAT Airways|
Middle East Airlines (seasonal)
Onur Air (seasonal)
Royal Air Maroc
Sun Air of Scandinavia
Syrian Arab Airlines
Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium
Ukraine International Airlines
| Aerologic (B777)|
Asiana Airlines Cargo (B744)
Cathay Pacific (B744)
DHL (A300, B757 and B767)
Egyptair Cargo (A300)
Eva Air Cargo (MD11, B744)
Iberia Cargo, operated by Gestair or Layonair (B737)
Kalitta Air (B742, B744)
Korean Air Cargo (B744)
Royal Air Maroc Cargo (B737 classic)
Royal Jordanian Cargo (A310)
Saudi Arabian Cargo (MD11, B744)
Singapore Airlines Cargo (B744)
TNT Airways (BAe 146, B737 classic)
Runway 25L arrivals.In normal runway configuration, as standard for Brussels Airport when Western, Southwestern or Northwestern winds are present, runway 25L will be used for landing for most aircraft except for military and cargo aircraft. Cargo aircraft, government aircraft, VIP & private aircraft and sometimes other passenger aircraft (upon tower request) land on runway 25R.
In the afternoon and evening, as it's getting calmer, there is some chance more aircraft will land on runway 25R (upon request of the pilots), but this will normally be limited. In most situations runway 25R is used exclusively as departing runway. Runway 20 can as well be used as additional departing runway if the wind requires this or in addition of runway 25R (mostly on Sundays).
Runway 25L departures are possible but are considered very rare as aircraft have to backtrack a few hundred meters of the runway so that the landing traffic has to take about 5 or 7 minutes of departing time into account, stretching separation up to 10 minutes.
Spot A is located near the end of the runway and offers a nice opportunity to photograph the landing aircraft on runway 25L in the air. The normal approach altitude is not too high, between approximately 150 and 200ft. Sunlight in the middle of the summer is not very good in the morning as the sun sets, but nice approach shots in the early morning with the rising sun are possible. Sun position gets better as the day advances and is generally starting to get good at around 9:00 or 10:00 (depending on the season). At 12:00 the sun should be almost at an angle of 90� with the aircraft landing on runway 25L. In the afternoon, the sun continues to enlighten the aircraft in a good way. Later on the day when closer to the evening (starting at about 16:00 or 17:00) the sun starts to shine in the approaching aircraft's engines which gives new photo opportunities if you would like to photograph more from the side/front of the aircraft.
How to get there?
Street: Kortenbergsesteenweg (Village: Kortenberg).
Parking is available on the road and only permitted in the zone starting at the beginning of the trees. If you are by train, you will have to go to the station of Kortenberg. There you have to exit the station to the left and always continue straight ahead (also on the roundabout). The map left shows you how to walk, it's very easy. You can look up train timetables on www.b-rail.be. There are trains to Kortenberg from Leuven and Brussels (North, Central and South).
Runway 25L arrivals. This place has the same characteristics as spot A. Spot B is just located at the other side of the approach line of runway 25L. Especially during Summer evenings you might have to use this spot after 18:00-19:00. When the sun turns across the other side of the runway (North side), near sunset, the lighting on spot A gets bad.
This spot is not widely used as in the evening traffic gets low and most spotters have already gone home or went to other better spots.
On how to reach this spot, have a look at the description for spot A.
Runway 25L arrivals, touch-down zone. This spot is located a bit behind the TDZ (Touch-Down-Zone) of runway 25L. Aircraft should have generally already touched down at this spot but might have the nose gear still aloft and deployment of spoilers & thrust reversers takes place when passing this spot.
The spot offers a bit higher located view upon the landing aircraft when they are already on the runway. Be warned, there is a fence which you can look over but it is most probable that there will be a bit of the fence in your pictures. Therefore you might have to take your picture a bit earlier than you would wish to avoid the fences. Especially in the early morning this is a problem, as the sun is a bit of a problem with (not that bad) backlight.
Nevertheless this is a very nice spot and is considered as one of the best ones at Brussels Airport. The spot is at it best when the sun has risen and the sun starts to get in such a position that she does not give any backlit anymore. Mind 'heat-haze' in the summer during hot days, although at Brussels there is only a minor effect of the heat and it stays OK to photograph even in mid-Summer.
Runway 07R, take-off: It is possible that due to strong eastern winds the runway varies from the normal 25R/25L arrival/departure configuration. In that case, airplanes will normally always take-off from runway 07R as is usual in a RWY 02 for landings & runway 07R/07L departures configuration. Runway 07L is only used for departures for cargo aircraft as it is very close to the cargo apron. Aircraft will likely rotate (take-off) a bit before spot C but it's still possible to take good shots of the departing aircraft, especially from the heavies.
The smaller aircraft often line up the runway from a closer intersection, which results in an almost equal rotation place as the heavies do.
How to get there?
Street: Mechelsesteenweg (Village: Steenokkerzeel).
You will pass a refugee centre (127 bis) on your left/right hand side (depending on which direction you come from). Do not drive into the road that leads up to the refugee centre as it is prohibited! You can park your car on sand/dirt parking places on left and right side of the Mechelsesteenweg at the begin of the road that leads next to the refugee centre. To reach the spot, you are allowed to walk on that road. At the end of that road you can walk up the small hill on the left which offers great views on runway 25L. Anno 2011 you also have now a hill on the right from the new refugee centre that is built over there. You have to make out for yourself which hill you want to use. For lenses of a better quality who are still making sharp photos when fully extended (300mm or more), We would recommend the right hill when 07R is in use for takeoff.
If you are by train, you will have to go to the station of Nossegem. There you'll have to exit the station to the left and continue straight ahead until you reach the refugee centre on your right. You can look up train timetables on http://www.b-rail.be/. There are trains to Nossegem from Leuven and Brussels (North, Central and South).
Runway 25L arrivals - 07R takeoff - 20 departures: This spot offers a panoramic view upon the runway intersection of runway 02/20 and runway 25L/07R and you can also see the beginning of runway 25R/07L about 1,5 miles further to the North. You can spot landing aircraft on runway 25L either departing aircraft on runway 07R. To take photos a qualitative 200mm or 300mm lens is needed.
Another nice photo opportunity at this spot is that you can take nice shots of the runway 20 departures from this higher located sand hill. You will be able to photograph the rotations from runway 20, which can be in use on Sundays. Here you will also need 200 up to 300mm of zoom on your camera lens and even 400+mm for smaller aircraft. That's why this spot is not so good if you don't have such a big lens.
Runway 25L landings and runway 07R departures are generally fine what concerns sun lighting until the evening. You can only photograph runway 20 departures with decent light till about 12:00 or 13:00 as later on the day you get more and more backlit otherwise.
How to get there?
You can't reach this spot by car and you will have to go by foot from spot C. Park your car as described in spot C. From there, walk to the south. You will pass four houses on your right and you have to take the first street to the right. Then continue straight ahead while you're passing a football field/club. Just continue there and you will see a sandy field. Go on it and you will have the view on the airport runways and tarmac.
Runway 02 arrivals: This spot is a bit hidden in the bushes and offers a great opportunity to shoot landing aircraft on runway 02. The big advantage is that all aircraft land on this runway, including cargo and military aircraft.
It is also possible to shoot the line-up and the start of the take-off-roll of departing aircraft on runway 07R and runway 02, although 02 departures don't occur often. You will be able to shoot the landing aircraft on runway 02 when there are on very final approach/flaring and with a ladder you can also photograph them while touching down from behind. Light is good at this spot until about 13:00 for RWY 02 movements, and for 07R departures till about 15:00-16:00. A ladder is recommended but is not deemed necessary. The following photos are taken without a ladder.
How to get there?
Street: Zeven Tommen (Village: Zaventem).
There are designated parking places available on the west side of the approach path of runway 02. Continue down the road by foot and walk under the approach path of 02. Then you will have to go off the road and always follow the airport fence until you reach those bushes on the right side of runway 02 (NOT the big forest more to the right).
Please mind that you have to walk over the field of a farmer so please walk as close to the airport fence as possible so to not damage his field. When it has rained there is a lot of mud and you will be very dirty when you reach spot E, but a very great view is worth the effort.
By train:Take a train to the station of Nossegem. When leaving the station, take right and walk straight ahead until you reach the runway 02 spots.
By bus: There are a lot of buses that connect the city of Zaventem and Brussels Airport. The bus station is right in front of the train station. Bus numbers from the airport to Zaventem are: nearly all busses that depart on platform A. Ask the driver to be sure! Ask if he has a stop at Zaventem station.
Runway 02 arrivals: This spot is located next to a small concrete road for agricultural vehicles. It is prohibited to enter this road by car! You can shoot runway 02 arrivals till about noon. Later on the day the light gets worse until eventually you will get backlit on the aircraft. What you should do is continue on the road in the direction of a pedestrian crossing over the railway (small bridge) which will lead you to the beginning of a street at the other side of the runway axis of runway 02 from which you can take good pictures between 14:00 or 15:00 until sunset (spot G).
On how to reach this spot, have a look at the description for spot E.
Runway 02 arrivals: Spot G is on the other side of the runway 02 axis for arriving aircraft on runway 02. This spot and its accessibility is discussed above and directions are explained at Spot E.
Arriving aircraft runway 07R: Landings on runway 07R normally don't occur. However, once in a few years when runway works are in progress, like during the summer of 2009, runway 07R or 07L can be used for arrivals, where the chance that 07L will be in use is bigger.
Normally runway 07R is only used as a departing runway. There is, like on runway 07L, no ILS available for the aircraft. But, in case this happens, you have only a limited series of possibilities to take pictures. Spot H is the first spot along the runway 07R axis to take side shots of the landing aircraft. When starting from spot G, you'll have to walk along the airport perimeter fences and you will find a spot behind a small sport arena or the nearby cemetery.
You can take side shots of landing aircraft as they come in to land on runway 07R. You can only look a bit above the fences. You have some trees at the left and you have to take your shot as soon as the aircraft has passed the trees before it dives down behind the fences. Light is considered to be good until approximately 17:00-18:00 in summer time. But, as said earlier, 07R arrivals is a very rare occurrence!
On how to reach this spot, have a look at the description for spot E.
Airport parking 3 (P3) spot: As the name already says, this spot is located on top of car parking P3. It offers a panoramic view of about 7 stories high above the airport, right in front of the satellite building (out of use for flights). You can photograph landing aircraft vacating the runway 25L, landing aircraft on runway 02 either departing aircraft runway 20 (only in the afternoon, as the sunlight is good then). Aircraft landing on 02 can be photographed, although that for smaller aircraft you need at least a 400mm lens.
Aircraft taking-off/landing on runway 07R are as well visible, although taking pictures of this is a bit more difficult as most of the day you will encounter serious backlight, except maybe in the evening. Therefore, on Summer evenings this spot is very nice when 07R is in use for departures. You'll then have to climb on one of the roofs of the stairhouses. It is then possible to photograph the aircraft on taxi to runway 02 or 07R for take-off as they pass the P3 spot.
How to get there?
To reach this spot you can drive by car, but then you'll have to take in mind that parking your care here is expensive.The best solution is to take the bus from other spots, like the ones at Zaventem or Kortenberg.
Once at the airport, just follow the markers that lead to parking 'P3'. Then take the elevator to floor 6, which is the top of the parking.
Panoramic viewing restaurant 'wingtips': Brussels Airport has few restaurants/pubs with panoramic view, the most well-known of this is the restaurant 'wingtips', which offers almost a 180 degrees panoramic view with large windows upon the terminal A & B and the taxiway in between.
You can take pictures of the line-up of airliners standing in front of their gates. The photo opportunities are the best a bit after noon (12:00) as you might not have any more backlit. However, to have the most spectacular line-up it is advisable to pay it a visit at between 08:00 and 11:00, as the last heavies should have arrived around 09:00 and the first heavies depart back around 10:00.
In the morning, you will see airliners from American, Continental, Delta, United Airlines, Etihad Airways, Hainan Airlines and Jet Airways. Brussels Airlines' 330's only use the B-pier for arrivals (which are very early at around 06:00), as since a couple of years Brussels Airlines moved their Africa operations to the back end of the A concourse to free up spaces at the overcrowded B-concourse in the morning.
Please take in mind that sometimes the windows can be dirty, so other spots are more advisable.
How to get there?
When in the departure area, walk to the left and take the stairs to the top, then walk to the end of the corridor until you see the 'Wingtips' restaurant.
Abelag Aviation park: Abelag is the main private & VIP aircraft handler & flight operator of Brussels Airport. The apron(s) is used for private (jets) and VIP & Government. You can find aircraft like Cessna Citation Jets, Gulfstreams, King Air's, other private jets, some military transport aircraft like C-17 (if they visit BRU) and governmental aircraft.
When there is an EU (European Union) meeting in Brussels (happens quite often as the headquarters are located in downtown Brussels) the aircraft bringing participants will park over here. There are two parts. One small apron is mainly used for business jets, one bigger apron generally being used for VIP/governmental aircraft. Usually these are the bigger aircraft in the 'airliner' category. The bigger apron is located more to the west of the smaller one and is located behind the Abelag car parking (staff). The smaller apron is about 200m more to the East and is located behind an entrance gate to the apron.
How to get there?
When there is an EU (European Union) meeting in Brussels (happens quite often as the headquarters are located in downtown Brussels)
Runway 07L departures: This spot offers a view upon the line-up of runway 07L departures, although this is a very rare occasion. 07L for landing or departures has maybe been used less than 10 times since the airport opened back in 1958. Although nowadays this can happen a few times a year, but only for a very limited period (1 or 2 hours).
The spot is located across the new big Brussels Airlines crew parking. You can enter it for free but you cannot park your car as the parking is only for crew/staff of the aircrafts and in special Brussels Airlines. . You can enter it free but you cannot park your car as the parking is only for crews/staff of the aircraft and in special Brussels Airlines. You can neither park a bit further on the road. You will have to park quite an end further back to the airport or on the small road about 20m lower located than the parking which is basically located on a small hill/slope. You can also take a free bus from the main airport building.
The spot is located a bit behind a bus stop at a fire gate entrance to the taxiway and runway. You can either take pictures over the fence with a stair (high enough, about 1m50 at least.) or trough the bars of the fence which are about 15cm spaced from each other. You will have a great opportunity to take pictures of departing aircraft on the ground on the taxiway. Good chance to take close-up's. A 200mm-lens will be enough for the smaller aircraft, larger aircraft will only require about 150mm zoom or less.
Runway 07L approach/arrivals: Aircraft approaching to runway 07L will have to perform a VOR/DME approach or a visual approach if the weather permits and in accordance to tower permission. As runway 07L is not fitted with an ILS landing system in that direction, aircraft will have to approach partly on instruments (VOR/DME) till a certain point and then have to take over manual control and will only establish on the runway quite late, resulting in nice bank maneuvers as sometimes approaching airplanes have to avoid the city center of Brussels and especially the Royal Palace at Laken.
Approach shots are possible starting from sunrise till about 18:00 before you will get too much backlit on sunny days. On clouded days it is considered that it is possible to take pictures unlimited till sunset.
Runway 25R arrivals. Normally only the cargo or military aircraft use 25R for landing. However, also some other aircraft can request to land there, although this does not happen too often so that you don�t miss a lot of specials.
On Sunday, the noise abatement procedures prescribe that runway 25R should be used for arrivals only and 25R and 20 for departures. However, these guidelines are not always followed every Sunday. You have to wait and see if they use 25R or 25L for arrivals.This spot is located in the town of Steenokkerzeel near the new control tower of Brussels airport and behind the stone sound wall. The spot is at the small cemetery of Steenokkerzeel. There is a small road to the cemetery starting from the old road through the town center. There are some parkingspots in front of the cemetery where the spot is located. You can stand on the small grass field at the parking. It is prohibited to make a lot of noise or to enter the cemetery with your camera or whenever you don't need to be there. Please keep in mind this is still a cemetery and show the necessary respect please. Sunlight conditions are the same as mentioned for 25L arrivals.
How to get there?
Street: Coenenstraat (Village: Steenokkerzeel).
Parking is available at the cemetery. The street itself is not 'Coenenstraat' but when you enter that street, follow the signs to the cemetery, which is normally the first street to the right. You cannot reach this spot by train, nor directly by bus. There is a bus line running through the village coming from the airport, but you�ll have to use Google Earth or Google maps to find your directions.
We appreciate all your remarks, feedback or tips on our forum: flightlevel.be/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=577
Brussels Airport Spotting Guide written and published: Original by Yannick Van Praag. Edited by Yannick De Bel, Sam Derdeyn and David Spinnael. Photos are made by David Spinnael, Pieter-Jan Van de Vijver, Yannick De Bel and Yannick Van Praag.