Moscow Vnukovo Airport Spotting Guide

Vnukowo International Airport is one of three major airports serving the Russian capital Moscow. It is located around 27 kilometers southwest of the city centre. Although it handles significantly less traffic (around 10 million passengers in 2012) than Domodedovo or Sheremetyevo it might be the most interesting airport to spot in Moscow. You will still see a lot of classic Russian airplanes in action, as UTAir (and a few other small Russian carriers) still use a few Yak-42s and Tu-154s on their services. With a little luck you might even get Tu-134s or some state operated aircraft like Il-62 or Il-76, so prepare your ears for amazing sounds and real airplanes!

Still it has to mentioned that like 90% of the traffic is only Transaero and UTair, so don’t expect too much airline variety. Only the charter airlines Red Wings, Yakutia or I-Fly add a little colour with their aircraft.
But overall the traffic is very good, as a lot of the aircraft you will spot here, you will only ever see in Russia.
The arrivals at VKO are mostly handled in peak times, which is great for spotting, as you will get a lot of traffic in a very short amount of time. The morning peak starts at 7:30 AM and lasts until 9:30 AM. After that though it might get very boring with only a handful of aircraft per hour. But those might still be highlights and worth the wait. In the evening the rush is from 4:30 PM until 7 PM.
Spotting in general is becoming more and more popular in Russia and problems with the police should be the exception.

Written by Jan Seba, Visited July 2013

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Informations    Runways 01/19 06/24
3.060 m 3.000 m
Terminals Terminal A Terminal B Terminal D
Main terminal for UTair and Transaero, used for domestic and international Flights Charter and international Flights Serves only domestic arrivals from North Caucasus
Spotting Informations  Ladder Not required at any of the locations.
Car All of the spots can be reached by bus from the terminals or the city centre. A car would be especially useful if runway directions were switched.
Restrooms Inside terminal buildings/restaurants around the airport.
Drinks/Food Inside terminal buildings and at some other locations (mentioned below).
Hotels There are no hotels close to the airport
Season Traffic is more interesting and the chance for good weather is higher during the summer season (April to October).
Runway Usage  All runways are used for departures and arrivals. In the summer all wind directions are almost equally likely, while in winter you will mostly see winds from the south and east, thus arrivals using runway 19 or 06 are most likely. During the time of the visit RWY 06/24 was closed due to reconstruction but it is now reopened for operational use.

Spot #1 – Highway – Morning 01 Arrivals
WHERE The spot is located directly next to the M3 highway. To get there from the city centre, use the last metro station on the red line “Yugo-Zapadnaya”. Exit the station and look for the buses with the numbers 309, 490, 569 or 304. There might also be other buses, which go to this spot, as it is not always very clear which route each bus takes. Also lookout for the small minivans, which also have a number in the front and where the driver has to be paid in cash (so the multiuse metro tickets won’t work here). The advantage of these buses is that they run much faster.The bus stop to exit is called Аннино, pronounced “Annino”. There is a footbridge crossing the highway at the bus stop, which you should use. Then it is just a few metres walking next to the highway to reach the location.If you are arriving from the terminal it is a little more complicated, as there is no direct bus running to the approach. The fastest way is to use a taxi here. The cheapest (though time consuming) option is to use a bus in the direction of the city centre, get off at one of the bus stop at the M3 and take one of the above mentioned buses in the other direction.
WHAT You are standing on a small strip of grass, behind of a few trees. You can just see the distant approach over the wall in the south and the aircraft will approach runway 01 over the highway, which is also where you can shoot the aircraft. There are lamp posts next to highway, which may disturb your image with low approaching larger aircraft. But you always have the option to walk a little closer to the runway, which might also be useful for the small regional aircraft.
TIME Best light conditions are from sunrise until 1 PM.
MISCELLANEOUS There is a gas station a few meters west of the spot, where you can buy food and drinks.
FOCAL LENGTH 70mm for a B773, 100-150mm for most narrow-body types
Spot #2 – Highway – Evening 01 Arrivals
WHERE The spot is located right next to the airport fence and the safest way to get here from spot 1 is to walk back to the bus station and use the pedestrian bridge to cross the highway. From there on just stay close to the airport fence and walk through the approach path. This is also the place where the Red Wings Tu-204 overshot the runway and crashed into the highway.
WHAT This is the place to be for 01 arrivals in the evening and if you position yourself correctly you won’t get any problems with the lamp posts of the highway here. The aircraft are a little higher here compared to spot 1, but the angle is still good.
TIME Light is good here from around 4:30 PM until sunset.
MISCELLANEOUS You can still go to the gas station next to spot 1 from here, but it is a bit further from here.
FOCAL LENGTH 70mm for a B773, 100-150mm for most narrow-body types.

Spot #3 – Tunnel – Morning 19 Arrival
WHERE This spot is located next to a tunnel leading to the terminals. Getting here from the city centre is very similar to the other locations. Again go to the metro station “Yugo-Zapadnaya” but this time use bus number 611. After going to the terminal the bus goes around the airport, where you get off after a few more stops at the bus stop “ATC”. Walk back a few meters next to the road until you see a footpath to your left, directly to the spot along the tunnel entrance.Instead of metro and bus, you can also use the Aeroexpress Train to the terminals from metro station Kievskaya and then either walk the remaining distance or take bus 611. Using this method is probably a little faster, but also more expensive.
WHAT You can stand directly above the tunnel entrance and go a little back towards the trees. From here you will see the approach rather late (due to the trees), but it is still enough time to switch lenses if necessary.
TIME Best light conditions are from sunrise until 1 PM.
MISCELLANEOUS There aren’t any restrooms or shops close by, so take some food with you.
FOCAL LENGTH 70mm for a B773, 100-150mm for most narrow-body types.
Spot #4 – On the pipes – Evening 19 Arrivals
WHERE This spot is also easily reachable by the previous morning location. Just walk through the approach path and turn into the first left. A couple more meters and you will already see the pipes above the street.
WHAT The pipes or the fenced platforms on top can be used to elevate your position, so you should not have any problems with the fence
TIME Light is good here from around 4:30 PM until sunset.
MISCELLANEOUS Again you are very far from shops and restrooms, so prepare.
FOCAL LENGTH You are a little closer here, so around 50mm for B773 and from 70-120mm for narrow-bodies

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