São Paulo-Guarulhos Spotting Guide

São Paulo/Guarulhos–Governador André Franco Montoro International Airport (IATA: GRU, ICAO: SBGR), popularly known locally as Cumbica Airport after the district where it is located and the Brazilian Air Force base that still exists at the airport complex, is the largest airport in Brazil with a capacity of 42 million passengers and also the Latin America’s largest in number of passengers, 39 537 00 in 2014. GRU is the second after Bogotá (Colombia) for cargo 504 000 tonnes and movements 304,559. With two runways 27L / 09R and 27R / 09L, located 750 meters above sea level. There are forty airlines operating into GRU.

Local passengers companies : Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Alas Uruguay, Avianca, Avianca Brazil, Avianca Peru, Azul Brazilian Airlines, Boliviana de Aviacion, Copa Airlines, Gol Transportes Aereos, LAN Airlines, LAN Argentina, LAN Colombia, LAN Peru, Passaredo Linhas Aereas, TAAG Angola, TAM Airlines & TAM Airlines Paraguay.

Local cargo companies : ABSA Cargo Airline, Avianca Cargo, Rio Linhas Aereas, Tam Cargo & Total Linhas Aereas.

Written by Claude Davet / (Regular visitor, last update March 2016)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runway 27L / 09R 27R / 09L
3’000m (9’843 ft) 3’700m (12’140ft)
Asphalt  Asphalt
Terminals Terminal 1  Terminal 2 Terminal 3
Azul, Passadero flights only All remaining carriers All international flights
Spotting Information Ladder Not necessary.
Car With or without car, up to you. Detailed disription below.
Restrooms Available only at some spots.
Drinks/Food Available only at some spots.
Hotels Hotel Matiz or some other could be found next to the airport.
Season In “Winter” from April until end of August is the best season to go
Runway Usage
It depends on the wind, but every time I went it was these procedures.
27R / 27L 27L for landings and 27R for take-off.
09L / 09R 09R for landings and takeoffs to 09L This is the most used procedure.

Spot #1 – Hôtel Matiz
WHERE Car: The hotel is located at Rua Pedro de Toledo 1000, in Guarulhos, it is parallel to the main avenue that links the city to the airport, Rodovia Helio Scmidt.
Taxi: From the center of São Paulo takes about R $ 180-220 depending on traffic.
Transfer: The hotel offers a free shuttle bus from Terminal 2 Asa D to reach the hotel, with a rate of about every 30 minutes. This is the easiest way to get there.
Public Transport: There are buses that will leave you near the hotel from the city of Guarulhos, but beware, this is the least safe, if you are alone. Quite dangerous!
WHAT Elevated view of aircraft on final approach to runway 09L / R track, plus a panoramic view of the airport.
TIME From sunrise to sunset, but if it is closed, you can politely ask the hotel reception to open the door, they do so without problems. Good pictures throughout the year, with a better light in austral winter, which begins in early April to early August. During the austral summer, the sun remains in the alignment of the track which has the effect of shade under the planes but despite this, the location allows good photo.
MISC. The hotel is not a public place, it is important to identify the receipt and inform them that you want to take pictures on the hotel roof. Now you have to pay a fee to get up to the roof or pay for a hotel room if you plan a longer stay. The staff is very friendly and they always welcome you, if we respect the rules!

Sunscreen, water, cap, because on the roof it can be very hot. Never leave objects or trash pit, it could harm the image of the spotters, not to mention the obvious lack of education.

And you spend a day or several days you can eat and drink at the buffet. Plentiful for about 42R$.

FOCAL LENGTH 50mm B773, 90mm B772, 95mm A332, 105mm 787, 135mm A320, 135mm A319, 150mm B737 / EMB190, 160mm EMB145
Spot #2 – Viena Restaurant (TPS1 Asa A)
WHERE Viena coffee is at boarding at Terminal 1 background Asa A.
WHAT View moving aircraft on the parking portion Golf, as well as those who go align with the runway 09L. Opportunity to also make airplanes that are towed and cargo ships that depart from Terminal Cargo. The area is good for pictures at any time of year, regardless of the position of the sun.
TIME From 1000 to the end of the day (approx 1800-1830).
MISC. Everything you need is at this Café.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-200 mm
Spot #3 – Glazed Terrace “bat-caverna” (TPS 2 – Asa D)
WHERE Once at the airport, head to Terminal 2 ASA D, and rise up to a kind of gateway that leads to the glass panoramic terrace. Attention following the period the glass may be dirty on the outside, but in general it’s okay. An employee spends a few times to clean the inside, because there are many people who come with children and laying their hands on the windows. Provide tissues or wipes in case.
WHAT Push-back and taxiing aircraft.
TIME From 1000 to the end of the day (approx 1800-1830)
MISC. Toilets are available upstairs, and two drink stands. There are taken to recharge the iPhone for example, under the seats. Try to find the nearest side walls windows, because they are generally the cleanest.
FOCAL LENGTH 35mm EMB-190, 55mm B737-300, 130mm A330-200, 70mm B737-800.
Spot #4 – Morrinho
WHERE By car or taxi from any location is the hill at the end of Rua Nazare Guarulhos, in the São João area. The fare depends on your starting point.
By bus, there are buses that will leave you near the spot point, but it is not really recommended for security reasons.
WHAT Privileged view of taxiing aircraft to align or on final approach on the tracks 27L / R. The place is pretty safe, lot’s of family are spending their times their.
TIME The best time of year is early March until early August, because of the position of the sun. Good from 1000 until end of the day.
MISC. This spot is very unsafe and spotters has been robbed. Don´t go alone there and be in a bigger group! Bring with you what you need before coming at this spot.
FOCAL LENGTH 80mm A330-200, 130mm B737-800, 140 mm B777-300, 200mm ATR & 320, 210mm B767-300 (depend if the aircraft use the runway the taxiway or the remote stand).

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4 thoughts on “São Paulo-Guarulhos Spotting Guide

  1. Daniel

    The terminals have been renumbered. Former terminals 1 & 2 have merged and are now called “Terminal 2”, handling domestic and some international flights.
    Terminal 1 handles Azul and Passaredo, flying domestic destinations with E-jets and AT72.
    Terminal 3 remains with the same number and handles international flights only.
    You can see a map of the terminals at the official website: http://www.gru.com.br

    I’m not sure if spot #3 still exists after recent renovations at the airport.

    1. JulianJulian

      Thanks for the Info Daniel, the guide has been updated.
      Please let us know if you have infos if spot 3 is still available.

      -Julian

  2. Carlos

    Just an advise, the #4 Morrinho have become a highly dangerous place, two spotters have been robbed in the area in the last months, I don’t recommend to go alone, at least with a group of 10 people if you can.

    Also in the Matiz hotel, now only for hotel guests can go to the rooftop (still a good price/benefit) or you have to pay a day-use fare, which allows to use the room for some hours and them acess to the roof. (thanks to some spotters which used the rooftop without asking or giving something back to the hotel).

    1. JulianJulian

      Hi Carlos, thanks for these informations. I have just updated the guide. Sad to hear that there are spotters who have to break the rules.

      -Julian

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