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Montpellier Méditerranée Airport – Spotting Guide
Montpellier Méditerranée Airport (MPL/LFMT) is among the bigger french airports in the southern part of the country along the coastline. It is the 10th busiest airport within France as of 2019 with almost two million passengers. The airfield can be found roughly 10km east of Montpellier itsself and was opened in 1946 to public services. The first flights took off in 1938, but eversince it was a military base then. First run by French forces, but as off 1942 German fighters established an airbase here. Since the airfield opened to passenger routes in the mid 1940s, it had a slow growth, however in 1990 it broke the 1-million-milestone for the first time. After that decreasing numbers slowed down the growth, but today it is scratching the 2-million-mark thanks to a solid base of connecting flights within Europe to bigger hubs (Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Rome, …) and some additional flights within Europe and to the typical destinations from France in northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) or tourist services to Scandinavia, BeNeLux or Great Britain…
Written by Severin Hackenberger in cooperation with Emiel Pijpers. Last Update: Summer 2020
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| (2 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
|12L/30R||2600m x 50m|
|12R/30L||1100m x 30m|
|Terminal 1||Handling all (charter) flights.|
|Ladder||Recommended for almost all spots, but keep it down at most times in order to avoid suspicious faces.|
|Car/Public Transport||Car is recommended as most spots are off the public transport map.|
|Restrooms||Some options around, but mainly west of the airfield and in the terminal facilities themselves.|
|Drinks/Food||Some options around, but mainly west of the airfield and in the terminal facilities themselves.|
|Hotels||There is a real airport hotel close to spot #5.3, however it does not offer any special spotter views.|
|Season||Summer has more traffic, but therefore the light and haze are way worse.|
|Security||Spotting is normally tolerated here, but rather tryna keep a low profile. Most spot can be found next to critical aprons, companies or private properties, so we do not wanna have any trouble. So please keep it low here as our hobby is also not really common, so you may see some suspicious faces/people.|
|12L/30R||Used by all airliners and also some bigger GA aircraft.|
|12R/30L||Mainly used by small sports/GA aircraft, which also park in the south here.|
|Spot #1 – TNT North – Cargo/Storage apron|
|WHERE||1A TNT North: Make your way to the cargo halls in the north from the D172 running west of the airport. Pass TNT/ASL on your right, head towards the French La Poste. But always continue straight till you do not end up on a dirt turning pad for lorries. Park there, make some steps to the southwest and you will end up at the fence, where you can position yourself freely.
1B TNT West: Just before you reach the cargo halls, there is a small parking bulge by the eastern roadside. Park there, make some steps to the southeast and you will end up at the fence, where you can position yourself freely.
|WHAT||From here you can nicely see the apron in the north, which is mostly used by cargo aircraft on behalf of TNT/ASL, but also sometimes as parking pad for stored airliner.|
|TIME||Early summer mornings only for North and later noon till sunset is roughly the best time here for West.|
|MISC.||Ladder needed, nothing around. Haze can be a problem in summer.
The ramp can not be seen at all points nicely due to a dirtbank/mound running between ramp and fence.
|FOCAL LENGTH||North A321 = 60mm
West B738 = 90mm / A321 = 150mm
|Spot #2 – Fencekink Aprongate – 12L/30R movements + Cargo-Taxiway + Vallair ramp|
|WHERE||Again turn off D172 at the same roundabout towards cargo facilities, but already before the street makes it first major left turn, exit to the right between some bushes onto a dirty road, which will lead you to the fence. Shortly afterwards you’ll be able to park on a dirt bulge on the left and then just position yourself along the fence or at the fencekink in the southeast next to the apron entrance gate.|
|WHAT||You can nicely see the runway 12L/30R movements plus the taxiway connecting this runway to the northern cargo/storage pad.|
|TIME||Runway: Summer mornings only till later morning.
Taxiway: Later noon till sunset is roughly the best time here.
|MISC.||Do not block the apron entrance gate with your car/ladder. Ladder needed, position it somewhere along the fence without disturbing anyone.
Haze is a huge problem in summer, especially when shooting onto the Vallair ramp. Nothing around here.
|Spot #3 – D172 – 12L Arrivals|
|WHERE||Where Rue du Pont de Got turns off D172, position yourself somewhere around the junction south of the arrival path by the roadside in the afternoon. You may park your car somewhere here by the side or a few meteres south/west in the village next to you. In the morning continue by foot straight ahead the road till the roundabout. Parking is not available at the morning side.|
|WHAT||From here you can nicely see 12L Arrivals.|
|TIME||All day long except noon when the sun is over the runway.|
|MISC.||Nothing around, be careful by the roadside. Take care of furious drivers!|
Securite Civil EC135 = 240mm / A320 = 105mm
|Spot #4 – Vallair – Vallair storage ramp|
|WHERE||This spot is roughly a collection of positions around the Vallair ramp as you can either stand.
4A: west of the apron by the roadside of D172 at the fence somewhere
|WHAT||The Vallair ramp mainly with all its parking positions.|
|TIME||Depends on where you stand, how the aircraft is parked and what you wanna shot.
But roughly late noon is the best time here.
|MISC.||Ladder needed, keep a very low profile as you are on the Vallair property. Parking is very hard here, take care not to block any preserved spots!
Spot 4A is very hard in summer due to high grass and heat haze.
|FOCAL LENGTH||4A: A321 = 120mm / 737 Close-up = 130mm
4B: Just Us A320 = 30mm / Orange2Fly A320 = 20mm / A321 = 50mm
|Spot #5 – Turning Cicrle – 30R departures, taxiway|
|WHERE||Southeast of the Vallair hangar by the roadside of an abandoned, small turning circle between some trees.|
|WHAT||You can see 30R takeoffs and aircraft taxiing to runway 12L for departure.|
|TIME||Roughly late noon is the best time here.|
|MISC.||Ladder needed, keep a very low profile as you are on the Vallair property. Parking is very hard here, take care not to block any preserved spots!|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A320 = 220mm|
|Spot #6 – GA Fence East – GA Apron|
|WHERE||From the freeway D66 head towards the airport, so to the east. After a while, the street will make a slight right turn to the southeast and you will reach a big roundabout. Leave this junction to the south here into an unnamed road. It will lead you towards the Avis rental station, but before you reach this facility, turn right towards the small apron entrance gate there in the fence. Now try to get rid of your car somewhere and just position yourself along the fence here…|
|WHAT||The major GA ramp including sports aircraft, little jets and all other sorts….|
|TIME||Sunrise till noon roughly, but this totally depends where you stand and how/where your subject is parked.|
|MISC.||Ladder needed, keep a low profile not that the GA guests let us being send away. Parking is really hard here, we did not find any good and close spot yet.|
|Spot #7 – Heliport – Helipad East|
|WHERE||This spot is located in the southeasternmost position of the airport business district in between the runway. Make your way to the east, there you will easily find the big parking “Eco P6”. Go on from here to the southeast till you reach the helipad on your frontleft. Now try to get rid of your car somewhere here and position yourself somewhere along the fence around the helipad.|
|WHAT||From here you have a nice view onto the helipad. In the background you can also spot a taxiway connecting the two runway’s.|
|TIME||Depends on your and the heli’s position, but you can spot from early afternoon till sunsets nicely here.|
|MISC.||Nothing around, keep a low profile. Ladder may be useful, but as you will mostly shoot static here, it is also okay without.
Parking is very hard here due to all the preserved parking spots and properties around here.
Helicopters = ~200mm