Manchester Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

Manchester Airport (MAN;EGCC) is the third busiest airport in the UK and the busiest outside London. It has two runways both of 3,050m (10,000ft) in length, three passenger terminals, a cargo centre and several aircraft maintenance facilities. With an actual of 5 spots.

The vast amount of action occurs at Manchester in the morning and evening. Between 6am and 13pm most of the transatlantic traffic arrives. Then, most of these aircraft departs between 9am and 12am. The afternoon is mostly basic traffic from UK, mostly the same that comes in the morning dominated by charters and budget airlines from around Europe. Overnight the airport is usually quiet, with a few charters from the Mediterranean arriving in the early/late hours. Cargo aircraft are also regular at Manchester with some appearances from Cathay Pacific Cargo and every Friday morning 0630-0830 Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 77F on a stopover between Atlanta and Frankfurt.

Written by Jeremy Denton and Gary Culpan (last update March 2017)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Airport Information Runways 05R/23L 05L/23R
3.050 m (10.000 ft) 3.050 m (10.000 ft)
Terminals Terminal 1 Terminal 2 Terminal 3
Airliners scheduled and charter flying to European and other worldwide destinations Variety of airlines Domestic routes, European and International flights
Spotting Information Ladder Not required
Car It will be much better if you have the opportunities to rent a car.
Restrooms Inside terminal and restaurants around the airport.
Drinks/Food Inside terminal and around the airport.
Hotels Close to the airport there are many hotels but we recommend you to be at the Airport Inn Hotel.
Season Weather is best in Summer and Autumn/Fall.
Runway Usage  05L Take-offs during dual runway operations, take-offs and landings during single runway operations.
05R Landings during dual runway operations, closed during single runway operations.
23R Landings during dual runway operations, take-offs and landings during single runway operations.
23L Take-offs during dual runway operations, closed during single runway operations.
During quieter hours of operations the Southern “Runway 2” is closed completely because the extra capacity is not required. During these hours take-off and landings both occur on the North “Runway 1” – either runway 05L or 23R depending on the wind.

Spot #1 – Threshold – 23L Arrivals Morning
WHERE You have to go and park near the Airport Inn Hotel. From there, walk up and on the right theirs a black gate and simply follow the path. After a few minutes you will arrive close to the airport fence. Continue walking on the right and a few meters on your right, you’ll see a wood gate who you can climb and follow the small way until the hill. (In case, please refer you to the map as we underline the way to follow).
WHAT Arrivals and departures both runways. Keep in mind that pictures of the 05L and 23R may have some heat haze from the half-day.
TIME From sunrise to approx 1330/1400.
MISC. There is nothing nearby, so take what you need with you. Do not throw any of your drinks/foods stuff as it’s a natural environment and theirs no rubbish.
FOCAL LENGTH Runway 05R/23L (taxiway, exit) : 210mm SB2, 50mm A380

Runway 05L/23R : 240mm A319 & 140mm B773

Recommend you 18-300mm Spot #2 – Runway Visitor Park – 05L & 23R Departures & Arrivals
WHERE From the spot 1, take the Wilmslow road (A538) direction airport, than take the first exit to your right (Sundbank Lane) and finally take the Wilmslow Old Road on the right, go strait and you will see the Trident. If you go there on foot it’s free but if you go with a car, that’s the cost fee (£5 up to 2 hours, £10 from 2 hours up to 4 hours, and £12 for all stays over 4 hours).
WHAT The main purpose built viewing area is placed close to the taxiways that are used by aircraft vacating runway 23R after landing and by aircraft taxiing to Runway 05L for departure. There are 3 raised mounds that give a 180 degree unobstructed view of the complete airfield (excluding the Western Apron). From this point you have the possibilities to have everything on the 05R and 23R.
TIME Best light conditions are from 1500 to sunset.
MISC. WC, games, aviation-shop, drinks, foods, chairs and visit aircraft are available if you book in advanced only.
FOCAL LENGTH Runway 05L/23R : From 150mm to 400mm.

Taxiing to runway 05L : 18mm or less up to 200mm.

Taxiing to Terminal : 140mm B773 & 380mm ATR72.

Recommend you 18-300mm Spot #3 – Terminal 1
WHERE There are a few ways to get to this location, the most obvious being to drive up to the roof and park your own car up there and this is a great idea. It means that when there is a lull in traffic you can sit in your car with the air conditioning on and be free from the often harsh Manchester weather! Parking at T1 is not cheap though.Up to 30 minutes £2.50
Up to 1 hour £4.50
Up to 2 hours £8.00
Up to 4 hours £15.00
Up to 6 hours £20.00
Up to 24 hours £35.00
WHAT The roof or car rentals level, level 13, is the most popular part of the car park. There is usually a group of spotters in the corner watching the action and chatting – it’s a pleasant and friendly atmosphere. Located in this corner are large plastic bags which the airport has put up there as bins for the spotters to use. From this point only taxing aircraft or on static are possible except on the other spot of the parking you can have planes landing and departing rwy 23R and 05L.

The authorities locked the holes throw the fence so it is impossible to take pictures throw the fences. But, if you have a look at the overview picture you can still get pictures from the right (next to the white BMW) theirs a open view but only for one person. Otherwise, you can get some if you lay down theirs some holes.

TIME Any time. Runways activities afternoon, terminal best in the morning.
MISC. You can take the elevator and go to the arrivals of the T2 theirs a small supermarket.
FOCAL LENGTH Recommend you 18-300mm

Spot #4 – Airport Hotel Car Park – 23L arrivals
WHERE From Runway Visitor Park, take Wilmslow Old Road direction Wilmslow Rd/A538, you will arrived on a roundabout than take Runger Lane and Thorley Lane direction Ringway Road at Wythenshawe than continue on Ringway Rd, drive in Airport Hotel Car Park direction after take on the right on Ringway Rd and finally on the first on the left. About 10 minutes by car.
WHAT Nice place, you can take picture from a table drink a beer and eat at the same time. Only approach on rwy 23Rt is available at this point.
TIME 15:00 to the sunset.
MISC. WC, games, drinks, foods are available.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-300mm is the best
Spot #5 – Long Stay Car Park – 23L arrivals
WHERE Starting at Spot #4, turn right and continue on the Ringway Rd and then the second right into the B5166. After passing the railroad track turn right to the long stay car park. You can risk to park there but there are signs everywhere that say you’ll be towed if you park. Expect a visit from the police if you linger here, even without a car.
WHAT Only approach on rwy 23Rt is available at this point.
TIME From morning until early afternoon
MISC. Here is absolutely nothing.
FOCAL LENGTH 70-200mm is the best

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10 thoughts on “Manchester Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

  1. Karl Nixon

    Spot 5 has been out of bounds for some time now – you can risk it but there are signs everywhere that say you’ll be towed if you park. Expect a visit from the police if you linger here, even without a car.

  2. Pingback: MANCHESTER Airport 19/06/17 – Spotting&Planepictures

  3. Stephen Murphy

    Spot #2 – Runway Visitor Park be careful the parking charges are as follows: £5 up to 2 hours, £10 from 2 hours up to 4 hours, and £12 for all stays over 4 hours.

    FREE for visitors who get here by foot, bicycle or on public transport

    1. Karl Nixon

      Just to add that there’s a ‘special’ rate of £4 if you want to enter (by car) for the last 90 minutes (e.g. 1830-2000 Jun-Aug).

    1. JulianJulian

      We never used one but regarding to the airports website there is indeed a free 24h shuttle service!


  4. Ultimo Tiger

    I’d like to state that you can get some good approach shots from Rose Vale Park about a mile to the north east of Runway 1, and also some great locations down the western end of Runway 2. I’d be very happy to email yuo some photos and the exact locations if it’s any help to your guide?

    1. JeremyJeremy Post author

      Thanks a lot for the information and we’d love to update MAN guide. I sent to you an e-mail the 30.07.15.
      Could you have a look please ?
      Thanks a lot
      Jeremy Denton

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