Brisbane Intl. Airport – Spotting Guide

Brisbane International Airport (IATA: BNE / ICAO: YBBN) is the third busiest Australian airport by aircraft movements with roughly 23 million passengers in 2016. Brisbane is a major hub for Virgin Australia and a secondary hub for both Qantas and its low cost Jetstar. Tigerair Australia also opened a base at BNE. The airport has international and domestic flights, a cargo, a general aviation terminal and two runways.

Why visiting Brisbane ? You will have the chance to shots exotics airlines like (Air Canada, Air Niugini, Air Vanuatu, Aircalin, Fiji Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Nauru Airlines, Philippine Airlines and Solomon Airlines). As almost main Australian airport, you will find also, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, China Southern Airlines, Emirates, Etihad airways, EVA Air, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.

Written by James Baxter (Local spotter), Jeremy Denton & Jan Seba. (Last update January 2017)

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Airport Information Runways 01/19  14/32
3,560 m (11,680 ft) – Asphalt  1,700 m (5,577 ft) – Asphalt
Terminals Terminal 1 – Domestic  Terminal 2 – International Terminal 3 – Freight
Qantas, Virgin Australia, JetStar Australia, TigerAir Australia, QantasLink (opd by Sunstate and Cobham), Virgin Australia Regional, Alliance, JetGo, General Aviation Maintenance (GAM), & Regional Express (REX) Air New Zealand, Air Niugini, Air Vanuatu, Aircalin, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad Airways , EVA Air, Fiji Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Hawaiian Airlines, Jetconnect, Jetstar, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Nauru Airlines, Our Airline, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Solomon Airlines, Thai Airways, Virgin Australia & Virgin Samoa Nauru Airlines, Pacific Air Express, DHL (opd by Pel-Air), Qantas Freight, Toll Aviation (opd by Jetcrafd Aviation) & Toll Priority
Spotting Information Ladder Essential for various locations. Please note that the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) enforce and police the policy of all ladders being approximately 3 metres behind perimeter fencing.
Car Yes, required.
Restrooms Available at publicly accessible locations on the east and south districts of the airport such as the International and Domestic Terminal, Skygate Shopping Complex and the BNE Service Centre.
Drinks/Food Numerous fast food and sit-down dining options at the Domestic Terminal (BLD, Hungry Jacks, Krispy Krème, Red Rooster, Wok On Air and additional bars and café’s), Skygate Shopping Complex (Baker’s Club, Magical Rice, Woolworths and The Coffee Club), BNE Service Centre (Shell Coles Express, McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s, KFC, The Coffee Club, Subway, Sushi Mi and Airport Kebabs) as well as the nearby Centro Toombul Shopping Centre.
Hotels There are only a few hotels in the vicinity of the airport. These include the Novotel Brisbane Airport and Hotel Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport.
Season Queensland is regarded as Australia’s sunshine state and with Brisbane being its capital, spotting is usually unaffected throughout the cooler months (March-October). However, throughout the warmer months (November – February), temperatures can exceed 35 degree celcius with severe thunderstorms rolling over the city and airport some afternoons / evenings. It is to be noted that heat haze can be an issue at some spotting locations.
Runway Usage  01/19 – 14/32 Always in use – mixed traffic (from general aviation to super-heavies).Utilized by general aviation and regional services (except for the occasional A320/B737/B717/E190).

Spot #1 – The Loop
WHERE Located past both the International and Domestic Terminals, the Acacia Street Spotting Loop is positioned just south of the General Aviation (GA) apron. The location can be accessed via Moreton Drive (the outbound road [towards airport] to the Domestic Terminal) by following the signed ‘General Aviation’ directions.
WHAT RWY19 arrivals, RWY01 departures, Bravo and Alpha taxiway operations.
TIME The Loop is operated by the Brisbane Airport Cooperation (BAC) and is functional between 0600-1800 (AEST). Whilst the morning offers a close up view of numerous heavy international movements, the optimum photography time is after midday.
MISC. Heat haze can become an issue during the summer months. Green ants and mosquitoes can cause discomfort. And signposted SNAKE WARNINGS need to be taken into account as well; although, if you stick to the concrete slab, you should have no issues. Using a 3 step ladder is definitely recommended, due to the high fencing around all areas of the airport. (although it is possible to photograph between the fence)
FOCAL LENGTH Runway 01/19 – minimum of 150mm, maximum of 400mm, Taxiways Alpha & Bravo – minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm
Spot #2 – Toll Carpark
WHERE For when the Loop is unfortunately closed, the Toll Carpark adds another location which has similar viewing to the Loop itself. Located past both the International and Domestic Terminals, the Acacia Street Spotting Loop is positioned just south of the General Aviation (GA) apron. The location can be accessed via Moreton Drive (the outbound road [towards airport] to the Domestic Terminal) by following the signed ‘General Aviation’ directions.
WHAT RWY19 arrivals, RWY01 departures, Bravo and Alpha taxiway operations.
TIME Optimal time after midday.
MISC. Heat haze can become an issue during the summer months. Green ants and mosquitoes can cause discomfort. And signposted SNAKE WARNINGS need to be taken into account as well; although, if you stick to the concrete slab, you should have no issues. Though displaced approx 100m+ from the loop area, photography and viewing of aircraft departing and arriving is more than achievable! A ladder is necessary.
FOCAL LENGTH 300mm minimum with 400mm being perfect.
Spot #3 – Qantas Domestic Terminal Wing
WHERE Brisbane’s Domestic Terminal requires you to line up and pass through domestic security to access the gates. Although you do not require a boarding pass / passport, you will be subject to metal detectors / drug swabs. Best to miss this location unless you are boarding / disembarking a flight.
WHAT A perfect area to get up close with arriving and departing Qantas aircraft. Aircraft such as QLink Dash 8, QF B738 and QF A332 can be photographed from this location. Also, photography of aircraft taxiing past and aircraft arriving and departing on the main runway is achievable also.
TIME Best light conditions from 1200 onwards.
MISC. Terminal glass is tinted, although this can be rectified in Lightroom or by manually changing the white balance. In addition, the glass does create reflections during the morning, as well as bringing out fingerprints / additional marks.
FOCAL LENGTH RWY01/19 – minimum of 200mm, maximum of 400mm, Gate – minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm
Spot #4 – Common User Domestic Terminal Wing
WHERE Brisbane’s Domestic Terminal requires you to line up and pass through domestic security to access the gates. Although you do not require a boarding pass / passport, you will be subject to metal detectors / drug swabs. Best to miss this location unless you are boarding / disembarking a flight.
WHAT This wing of the Brisbane domestic airport lets you get close to a variety of the smaller airlines operating into and out of Brisbane. These include Qjet (B712), Jetstar (A320), Tiger (A320), Alliance (F28-70/100s), Jetgo (E135), REX (S340) and Corporate Air (S340, SW4). Also, photography of aircraft taxiing past and aircraft arriving and departing on the main runway is achievable also.
TIME Best light conditions from 1200 onwards.
MISC. Terminal glass is tinted, although this can be rectified in Lightroom or by manually changing the white balance. In addition, the glass does create reflections during the morning, as well as bringing out fingerprints / additional marks.
FOCAL LENGTH RWY01/19 – minimum of 200mm, maximum of 400mm, Gate – minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm


Spot #5 – Virgin Australia Domestic Terminal Wing
WHERE Brisbane’s Domestic Terminal requires you to line up and pass through domestic security to access the gates. Although you do not require a boarding pass / passport, you will be subject to metal detectors / drug swabs. Best to miss this location unless you are boarding / disembarking a flight.
WHAT A great area to photograph Virgin Australia aircraft arriving and departing. These include B738, A332, E190 and AT75/AT76. Also, photography of aircraft taxiing past and aircraft arriving and departing on the main runway is achievable also.
TIME Best light conditions from 1200 onwards.
MISC. Terminal glass is tinted, although this can be rectified in Lightroom or by manually changing the white balance. In addition, the glass does create reflections during the morning, as well as bringing out fingerprints / additional marks.
FOCAL LENGTH RWY01/19 – minimum of 200mm, maximum of 400mm, Gate – minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm

!!!!! PICTURES ARE COMING SOON !!!!!

Spot #6 – Level 9 Domestic Carpark
WHERE Just a few meters from Spot #5, the 9th level of the domestic car park offers a 180 degree panoramic view of Brisbane Airport’s runway. To get to this vantage point, take the escalator from the drop off area onto the walkway above, and head towards the domestic car park. The left block of elevators (when facing the car carpark) can only be used to access the 9th level.
WHAT RWY01 arrivals / departures, RWY 19 arrivals / departures, Bravo taxiway ops and Domestic Terminal ops
TIME Best light conditions from 1200 onwards.
MISC. A ladder is not required for this location. BAC staff / security personnel are known to ask you to move on from this location, however it is regarded as an accepted photography area by the airport itself. Great for long exposures / time-lapses / panoramas. A monopod is recommended at large focal lengths.
FOCAL LENGTH Domestic Terminal Gates – minimum of 200mm, maximum of 400mm, Bravo Taxiway – minimum of 200mm, maximum of 500mm, Runway 01/19 – minimum of 250mm, maximum of 600mm
Spot #7 – Callistemon Street Apron Area
WHERE Located off Lomandra Drive on the Southern border of the Brisbane Airport perimeter, Eucalyptus Drive is a newly built location which will house future airport facilities that are yet to be constructed.
WHAT Taxiway Lima, Papa 1-4B and Papa 7 Parking Bay. A ladder is recommended for this location. Parking Bays Papa 1-4B usually utilised by Virgin Australia B738 / Alliance Airlines F100/F70/F50. Parking Bay Papa 7 was usually utilised by Royal Australian Air Force A343 / Transpacific Heavylift DC8.

Sometimes other aircraft are parked in this area and can be photographed from the nearby hills which overlook the fence.

TIME Mainly Evening or during the day depending on parking angle.
MISC. Yellow no-parking lines are down either side of this street, so get your photo and move on. Beware of snakes in the bushy areas.
FOCAL LENGTH Mainly small focal length (e.g. 18mm for the A319). The MD is further with roughly 120mm.
Spot #8 – Litsea Street Taxiway Area
WHERE Located directly off Lomandra Drive viewing straight up taxiway Lima which is to and from the logistic apron.
WHAT This location allows for a fantastic angle of aircraft taxiing or being tugged to and from the Logistics apron. Yellow no-parking lines are down either side of this street, so get your photo and move on.
TIME Anytime of the day, depending on photographers angle, but most likely better in the evening.
MISC. Newly constructed fence stands stall, ladder is not necessary. Remember to use a lower F/stop to avoid outer edges of the fence coming into the photo.
FOCAL LENGTH Minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm
Spot #9 – DHL Carpark Lima 6 Apron Area
WHERE After crossing the bridge adjacent to Skygate on the East-West Arterial Road, make a right at the lights on Airport Drive into Lomandra Drive. This road acts as a gateway to numerous spotting locations and provides some vantage points along the side of the road. The first is the logistics apron.
WHAT This location is ideal for photographing static private jets, Defence Force aircraft and even aircraft that have gone ‘tech.’ An area for photographing aircraft parked on Lima 6 apron/ramp
TIME Anytime of the day or night, depending on photographers angle.
MISC. Newly constructed fence stands stall. No ladder access available due to limited space; thus shooting the fence is applicable – just remember to use a lower F/stop to avoid outer edges of the fence coming into the photo.
FOCAL LENGTH Minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm
Spot #10 – Old International Terminal Building Area
WHERE Located on Boronia Road, the next street onwards from the DHL carpark and Spot#9. A carpark is located adjacent to the intersection of Leonardo Drive. Then walking along the perimeter fence, aircraft parked at the logistics apron are easily photographed
WHAT Where the Old international building once stood, now offers a perfect photography opportunity to photograph aircraft parked on Lima 4, Lima 3, Lima 1Alfa and Lima. Mostly airliners, business jets and cargo aircraft are parked here.
TIME Anytime of the day or night, depending on photographers angle.
MISC. Ladder is not necessary due to fence being easy to shoot through – just remember to use a lower F/stop to avoid outer edges of the fence coming into the photo.
FOCAL LENGTH Minimum of 18mm, maximum of 200mm
Spot #11 – Da Vinci Boulevard
WHERE Located on Da Vinci Boulevard, which links Leonardo Drive to Lomandra Drive we find out next position. 17 car spaces are available either side of the Boulevard, with a concrete path way and hard-mounted seats available. Looking to the east, the aircraft glide slope for runway 01/departure route for runway 19 is within 400 metres.

There is also an alternative location, where you will have a better angle at the cost of slightly higher focal length. Park your car in the large car park and walk away from the RWY line over the large empty field until you find the angle/distance that works best for you.

WHAT Runway 01 arrivals.
TIME Best light conditions are in the afternoon.
MISC. No ladder required, with an open field for you to play around with.
FOCAL LENGTH 250mm for a B738 and over 300mm for smaller aircraft like B717 or ATR72.


Spot #12 – Lavarack Ave / Holt Street roundabout
WHERE located off Kingsford Smith Drive, accessed via Holt Street. Parking is available along both sides of the entire avenue. The eastern end of Lavarack is perfect for morning and night arrivals on runway 01, and the western end of Lavarack is perfect for afternoon and night arrivals (due to lighting conditions). Note that the glide slope for runway 01 and the departure route for 19 is nearly directly up Holt street; thus if you prefer underside shots, stand close to the roundabout of Lavarack and Holt street to be directly under arriving or departing aircraft.
WHAT Perfect for runway 01 underside aircraft photography. PLUS: Lavarack Avenue in either direction from the roundabout, can offer fantastic side on shots for runway 01 arrivals, and can offer runway 19 departure opportunities.
TIME Any time is suitable, with the eastern end of the avenue. Perfect for morning and the western side of the avenue perfect for afternoon. The glide slope for runway01 arrivals runs nearly perfectly down Holt Street, so staying close to the roundabout on either side of it is a great idea.
MISC. Shooting over head ans side on aircraft angles, be mindful of heavy vehicles and cares as this is a busy road 24/7.
FOCAL LENGTH Undersides 50mm minimum, 100mm maximum / Side on shots 200mm minimum, 400mm+ maximum
Spot #13 – Randle Road
WHERE Located directly off Kingsford Smith Drive, this area resides at the end of the road where the last left hand drive way is to a business. Parking is available on either side of the road through its entirety. This area is profoundly good for runway 01 morning arrivals, as they come from left to right with nice angles in the morning light. Night photography can be good from this area as well.
WHAT Fantastic location for runway 01 arrival photography. Runway 19 departure photography is able.
TIME Best light conditions are in the morning.
MISC. Side on photography, can be a busy road with heavy vehicles frequenting the venue 24 / 7.
FOCAL LENGTH 200mm minimum and 400mm+ maximum.


Spot #14 – McBride Road
WHERE Located off Eagle Farm Road, McBride spotting location is situated at the very end of the street. Parking is available onto the gravel area at the end of the street. The position is perfect for morning 19 departures and morning 01 arrivals; photographing to the west, from right to left for 19 departures, and left to right for 01 arrivals.
WHAT The entire road offers a fantastic area for runway 19 departure shots in the morning. Also, aircraft south-bound offer banking photography opportunities
TIME Best light conditions are in the morning.
MISC. Side on departure shots off runway 10 or side on arrival shots of runway01; long grass is around that could Harbour Snakes – keeping on gravel will keep you safe.
FOCAL LENGTH 200mm minimum and 400mm+ maximum
http://www.spotterguide.net/images/numbers/Number_15.png Spot #15 – Qantas Hangar 3 Apron opportunity
WHERE Located on the corner of Main Myrletown Road and Priors Road. Parking for a short amount of time on gravel on the side of the road is available. A ladder is a necessity to be able to photograph unrestricted by fence and be at apron height.
WHAT Allow you to photograph Qantas Aircraft parked on the Hangar 3 apron, or being worked on in the maintenance hangar
TIME Mornings are perfect light wise.
MISC. Using a 3 step ladder to get up to the apron level.
FOCAL LENGTH Minium 18mm, maximum 200mm+ or more if need be.
http://www.spotterguide.net/images/numbers/Number_16.png Spot #16 – Fire Station
WHERE Located at the end of Baeckea Street directly off Pandanus Avenue. An entire carpark is available by taking the second right hand turn and entering the first driveway on the left. A (3-step) ladder is necessary for photography at this location, but photographing through the fence is do-able as well.
WHAT One of the best locations to photograph aircraft departing and arriving. Both runway operations are available for photography; but runway 01 rotation shots, and runway 19 touch down shots are not available due to the fire station itself.

Be advised that it is difficult at this location to get good side-on shots. You will only have a clear line of at at exactly 90° angle, which is obstructed on both sides, so you will only get very few shots per movements, making it also difficult to track airplanes and choose the correct focal length. Furthermore you will have a few obstancles in signposts in your picture, however these can be easily removed durng editing. Be careful, there is one signpost right infront of the RWY, which might obstruct main gear if you are not careful.

TIME Best light is in the morning.
MISC. There is nothing nearby.
FOCAL LENGTH A B747 is roughly 130mm and a B738 just above 200mm.

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