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Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal Intl. Airport – Spotting Guide
Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is the biggest and the busiest airport in Bangladesh and welcomed over 6 Mio. passengers in 2019. Currently, it has two terminals active – one for international and one for domestic flights. A new third terminal is expected to be completed by 2022. Dhaka airport only has one active runway (runway 14/32) and the traffic mostly uses Runway 14 for departure and arrival. The airport is the hub for Biman Bangladesh Airlines, US-Bangla Airlines and Novoair. Furthermore, It is served by 23 international passenger airlines and over 15 cargo carriers. For spotters, most modern aircraft such as Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 747-8, Airbus A350 etc can be found at this airport.
Over the course of 2020-2021, the airport has recieved a large number of unscheduled carriers, operating repatriation flights or special cargo. Some notable frequent traffic includes Antonov Airlines and Volga Dnepr Antonov An-124, San Marino Executive Aviation Airbus A300-600RF, SF Airlines and YTO Airlines Boeing 757-200F, Terra Avia Boeing 747-400F and Sky Capital Boeing 737-200AF and Fokker 50 amongst others.
It is also the biggest base for Bangladesh Air Force so if the weather is good you will see fighters and military transport aircraft flying around but do apply caution when photographing them as it may arise police suspicion.
All spots descriped below are on public places and accessible for everyone. Ground pictures like these were taken from private houses and you have to contact a local spotter to gain access.
Written by Aideen Khan. Last Update July 2021.
How was your trip? Rate this airport!
| (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
|14/32||3,505m/ 11,500ft, Asphalt|
|International||The International terminal hosts all local and foreign airlines flying to international destinations. The terminal is divided into T1 and T2 but it is the same building so airside area is same for both.|
|Domestic||All domestic flights leave from this terminal.|
|Ladder||Ladder is not required for all the spotting locations. Usage of ladder would draw unnecassary attention.|
|Car/Public Transport||All spotting locations are accessible by car. It is recommended to use a personal (rental) car for added security. If it is your first time visit, we recommend to hire a Uber driver for the whole day. Alternatively, you can always take rickshaws or auto rickshaws (CNG)|
|Drinks/Food||There are plenty of restaurants and cafes available nearby. However, the good quality ones are approximately 10-15 minutes drive away.|
|Hotels||There are a lot of hotels nearby ranging from 1 star to 5 star in spot 1, 2 and 3. For spot 4, Radisson Blu (5 star hotel) is the closest hotel which can be pretty expensive.|
|Season||Throughout the year haze is a big issue. April to October is the best time to spot as the visibility is the best during this time unless raining. In the winter months of November to March, it is pretty foggy before 12pm (sometimes even longer) which makes it difficult to spot during the day.|
|Security||It is recommended to keep a low-profile while spotting in Dhaka. In Spot 2-4, generally police would not care if you are photographing. Due to the close proximity of spot 1, police may ask you to stop photographing during air force or VVIP (head of state) movement. Furthermore, during the independence months of March and December, the security is heightened as air force aircraft practice for the parade. The police don’t usually care aside from the above mentioned circumstances. In all the spots, keep your belongings secured as there may be pickpocketing attempts or other petty crimes.|
|14/32||Dhaka airport has only one runway. Most of the time runway 14’s direction is used for takeoff and landing. You should consider yourself lucky (or unlucky) if you get runway 32 takeoff or landing.|
|Spot #1 – Cafe Runway – 14 afternoon arrival|
|WHERE||There is a cafe named “Cafe Runway” which is located near the foot of runway 14 and it is the most popular spot for planespotters. It is not compulsory to enter the cafe and you can stay outside but the cafe provides a terrasse with the most unobstructed view. The place is accessible by car, rickshaw and auto rickshaw (CNG) and there are plenty of parking space by the road if you are going by car.|
|WHAT||This spot can only be used for Runway 14 arrivals and Runway 32 departures with the sky as background.|
|TIME||The best time to spot here is from 12pm to sunset. Backlit during the morning.|
|MISC.||In terms of safety, inside the cafe it is the safest compared, especially compared to the other spots which are basically roadside. Food, drinks and restrooms are all available. However, the cafe is not very class so better quality amenties can be found 10 minutes drive away. There is a small chance that the police will ask you to leave during air force movements. The place is off limits during VVIP (head of state movement).|
|FOCAL LENGTH||You are very close to the action and no high focal length is needed.
ATR = 70mm ; A350 = 40mm
Spot #2 – Diabari Bridge 2 – 14 afternoon arrival
|WHERE||Go to the Diabari Bridge 2 where you will see a dirt road on the western shore. You have a perfect sight of the approach path and the aircraft pass by at an altitude of 800-1000 feet. The spot is accessible by car and other forms of public transport and you can park directly at this location as well. However, it is recommended to take a private car to this spot for additional safety.|
|WHAT||This spot can only be used for Runway 14 arrivals with the sky as background. It is easier to frame widebody aircraft from this spot due to its longer distance compared to the previous location.|
|TIME||The best time to spot here is from 12pm to sunset.|
|MISC.||There are no cafes, restaurants or restrooms at the spot. The nearest cafe or restaurant is about 10 minutes drive away. You will find restrooms at the cafe or restaurant. Since this spot is quite far away from the airport fences, police activity is minimal. The area is pretty isolated so be careful with your belongings.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||ATR = 250mm ; B777 = 100mm|
|Spot #3 – Sector 14 Play Ground – 14 morning arrival|
|WHERE||The spot is located on the left side of the approach path to Runway 14, on a play ground. Aircraft pass this spot at an approximate altitude of 500 feet. The spot is an alternative to Spot 2, in order to avoid backlit conditions during the morning half of the day. The location can be easily accessed by car, rickshaws, Uber and other forms of public transport but the roads are quite narrow so you may find difficulties finding a parking spot. The best feature about this spot is that you can adjust the zoom range physically by walking closer or further to the approach path.|
|WHAT||This spot can only be used for Runway 14 arrivals and rare Runway 32 departure with sky as the background.|
|TIME||The best time to spot here is from sunrise to 12pm.|
|MISC.||This is a safe place and used by families and football players. Small food and drinks store is available scattered all around the play ground. Restrooms are available within the play ground boundaries, however they are not very clean. No sign of police detected in any of our spotting sessions there.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||ATR = 200mm ; A350 = 75mm|
|Spot #4 – Cantonment Station – 14 departures|
|WHERE||This spot is near the platform of the Cantonment train station. The place is accessible by using all forms of transport.|
|WHAT||The spot can only be used for Runway 14 departures and Runway 32 arrivals with the sky as background (very rare). The main issue with this spot is that some (light) aircraft may turn early so it will be directly overhead when it passes the spot hence only the belly will be visible. Heavies are fine!|
|TIME||The best time to spot here is from 12pm to sunset.|
|MISC.||There are no cafes or restaurants at this spot. Radisson Blu hotel is only 5 minutes drive away from the spot. The spot has a mosque which is equipped with restrooms. Since the spot is quite far away from the airport boundaries, police do not usually care. However, during VVIP (head of state) movement security may be heightened.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A320 = 300mm ; A350 = 150mm|