Edmonton International Airport is with 8.25 Mio. passengers the fifth busiest airport in Canada, and the gateway to Canada’s North. While there may be little action at some points during the day, there are several nice locations to see some of the more interesting aircraft at YEG. Biggest player is WestJet and WestJet Encore with 70 percent of the market share, followed by Air Canada, Swoop, Flair Airlines, and Sunwing. The only international carriers, except the airlines from the US are Icelandair and KLM. Many smaller charter operators and commuter airlines using YEG as their gateway to the northern territories. The airport has two runways: 12-30 (the south runway), and 02-20 (the north runway), which are both over 10,000 feet long, and often used interchangeably. In addition to the two runways, there are several aprons where it is possible to see unique visitors up close.
Encounters with security don’t happen too often, as long as you follow these general guidelines:
– Do not go closer than 10 feet from the fence, whether you are using a ladder or are in a car.
– Make sure your ladder is shorter than the fence, you don’t want to give security the wrong impression.
– You can briefly go up to the fence for a picture, but don’t stay within the 10 foot zone for too long.
Here are some useful links:
A scanner is recommended; see the frequencies below. To find out the runway, listen to the arrival frequency for arriving aircraft and to the clearance frequency for departing aircraft.
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|Airport Information||Runways||02/20||3.351 m (10.995 ft)||Asphalt|
|12/30||3.109 m (10.200 ft)||Asphalt|
|Terminal||One for all airlines|
|Spotting Information||Ladder||Necessary at some locations. See detailed description below for each spot. Make sure your ladder is shorter than the fence and place them at least 10 feet away.|
|Car||Absolutely necessary. There is no public transport and you will need to drive around a lot, especially for the westerly spots.|
|Restrooms||Except spot 1, 5 and 6 there is nothing close.|
|Drinks/Food||There are plenty of Fast Food restaurants at 50 St, next to spot 1 and a huge shopping mall next to the terminal|
|Hotels||All possible hotel chains along Sparrow Dr and Airport Rd|
|Season||Due to the north/south direction of the runway and the better weather and longer days we highly recommend the summer months.|
|Runway Usage||General Info||The runway use in Edmonton can be erratic at times, especially during calm winds. Like any multi-runway airport, there are no certainties, but because there is low traffic at some times throughout the day, pilots will often take the runway closest to their parking position. Listen to the scanner!|
|02/20||Winds from the north: runway 02 for departures.|
Winds from the south: runway 20 for landings.Wind is from the west: 20 and 30 may both be used for arrivals and departures.
|12/30||Winds from the north: runway 30 will be used for landings|
Winds from the south: runway 12 wind will be used for departuresWind is from the west: 20 and 30 may both be used for arrivals and departures.
|Spot #1 – Leduc Visitor Information Centre|
|WHERE||A small spotting area located adjacent to the Leduc Visitor Information Centre. Coming from the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (AB-2) southbound, take exit 519 to Leduc’s business sector, continuing straight past the intersection at 65 Ave, turning right onto 64 Ave and immediately turning right again to enter the visitor centre’s parking lot. From the QE-2 northbound, take exit 519 and keep right (but do not turn right onto 60 Ave). After the road splits, the visitor’s centre is on your left.|
This location doesn’t offer the best view, being across a highway from the actual airport, but it’s a good place for less serious spotters to sit and watch aircraft, as well as getting clear sky shots that are well lit in the afternoons for nearly the whole year.
|WHAT||Best used for overhead arrivals on runway 30. Overhead departures off of runway 12 are also visible, but limited as most aircraft are already high up by the time they pass over.|
|TIME||Not the best place for taking pictures as you are directly under the approach pathn.. For front photos just in the evening.|
|MISC.||Couple of Fast Food Restaurants just behind you.|
Security Notes: No issues have been had at this location. For now, this is the only sanctioned location at Edmonton International Airport.
|Spot #2 – 54a Street and 65 Avenue|
|WHERE||A small dirt area located at the corner of 54a Street and 65 Avenue – both gravel roads. Coming from the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (AB-2), this area can be accessed by driving west on 50 Avenue (Highway 39) and making a right hairpin turn immediately after the interchange onto a gravel road, 54a Street. Follow this road for a few minutes until it ends at the gate.|
|WHAT||that offers a good overview of runway 12/30, with full departures on runway 12 visible along with full arrivals and departures on runway 30.|
|TIME||In summer from afternoon till sunset but heat haze is an issue here in the summer. In winter almost from sunrise till sunset.|
|MISC.||Absolutely nothing nearby, bring with you what you need.|
Security Notes: This spot is located in front of an airside access gate for EIA. Stay 10 feet away from it if using a ladder, and try minimize your time standing directly in front of the gate. An automated bird cannon is located nearby on the other side of the fence – don’t be alarmed.
|FOCAL LENGTH||Lots of zoom is recommended here, at least 300mm minimum.|
|Spot #3 – Range Road 254|
|WHERE||A gravel road that runs underneath the arrival paths for runway 12 and 02. Coming from the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (AB-2), this spot can be accessed by driving west on Highway 19, and turning left onto Range Road 254. Once on RR254, keep driving until you come close to the only building on the left side behind the fence, next to the intersection with Township Road 502. This particular area is best for arrivals on runway 12 and departures off of runway 30. But you can drive up and down the farm road to find your preferd position.|
|WHAT||Best used for movements on both runway 12 and 02. You can also capture departures off of runway 20 and 30, albeit up high. Runway 20 and 30 arrivals are also possible to capture, but very faintly. The terminal is also visible in the distance, but there are some grassy hills that may obscure it.|
|TIME||You can photograph the whole day there as you can easily photograph from both sides of the approach paths and easily switch around.|
|MISC.||Absolutely nothing nearby, bring with you what you need.|
Security Notes: No issues have been had at this location, but as a precaution, don’t stay too close to the fence for too long. There are some private residences further south along this road – don’t trespass.
|Spot #4 – Range Road 252|
|WHERE||There is a small unpaved road to some farms named Range Rd 252. From the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (AB-2) drive northwards and take the exit 525 direction west to Devon on highway 19. Once on the 19 drive westwards and turn right once you are below the approach path into the farm road. Continue for approximate 1km northwards and then park your car on the side of the road and start your spotting session.|
|WHAT||From there you can only photograph the arrivals on runway 20.|
|TIME||In summer from afternoon till sunset. Backlit during winter.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby at this location.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A320 = 300mm; Beech1900=450mm|
|Spot #5 – Shell AeroCentre 2 Parking Lot|
|WHERE||A parking lot with an elevated manhole. It is located near the northern corner of the parking lot, and elevates you a foot or two allowing clear shots over the fence. Snow piles are also present in various locations around the lot for better viewing in the winter. Coming from the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (AB-2), this area can be accessed by driving west on Airport Road, continuing straight through the two lights, and turning right onto 36 Street E, following the signs for the Renaissance Hotel. Continue straight on 36 Street and turn left onto 56 Avenue E. Follow the road, and as the road enters the parking lot, turn right and make your way north to the fence.|
|WHAT||Best used for all movements on runway 02/20, and the closest you can get to aircraft at Edmonton International Airport. Aircraft on taxiway Bravo taxi by very close up, either after arrival on runway 02 or taxiing for departure off of 20.|
|TIME||From sunrise till afteroon all year round.|
|MISC.||Closest facilities are within the terminal.|
Security Notes: We haven’t had any issues here. If you’re using a ladder, remember to keep it at least 10 feet away (unless you’re standing on the manhole). Security vehicles do drive past this spot along the access road that runs parallel to the taxiway – it doesn’t hurt to give them a wave. Avoid parking right next to the fence.
|FOCAL LENGTH||Runway A332=100mm, Taxiway 737=90mm|
|Spot #6 – Renaissance Hotel Edmonton Airport|
|WHERE||This is not a publicly accessible spot and you need to book a “runway view” room on floors 6 or above within the Renaissance Hotel Edmonton Airport.Coming from the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (AB-2), the hotel is accessed by driving west on Airport Road, continuing straight through the two lights, and turning right onto 36 Street E, following the signs for the Renaissance Hotel. Alternatively, the hotel is connected to the terminal pre-security, on the far north end.|
|WHAT||An eight-storey hotel connected to the terminal that offers some great views of the northern portion of the terminal, as well as traffic landing on runways 02 and 12, along with the takeoff roll for aircraft departing those runways. Outside of the room, the hallway offers views of aircraft landing on runway 20 in the distance, as well as aircraft departing off of 02 or 20.|
The following gates are visible from the runway view rooms. The best views are of Gates 7A, 7B, 7C, 7D and 8, with the next best ones being (on taxi in or on pushback only) 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18, as well as those on 49F, 49G, 49H, 49I, and 49J.
|TIME||Depends on what to photograph ramp or runway. For the latter in the morning till afternoon. Ramp depends on the angle but possible the whole day.|
|MISC.||Everything you need is within the terminal and hotel.|
|Spot #7 – 36 Avenue E|
|WHERE||A sidewalk that runs parallel to 36 Avenue E and around the southern portion of the main apron. Coming from the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (AB-2), this area can be accessed by driving west on Airport Road, and turning left onto 31 Street E. Continue straight through the intersection and turn right on 36 Avenue E. Pull over where appropriate, but don’t go too far from your vehicle.|
|WHAT||Offering views of aircraft at the gate (mostly those going to the United States), as well as De-icing Facility 3 (DF3), which is used by most heavy aircraft. This part of the apron has several hard stands where special visitors sometimes park. Aircraft on runway 12/30 are also visible in the distance. The sidewalk is slightly elevated above the fence in certain areas.|
|TIME||Depends on what to photograph ramp or runway. For the latter only in the summer from sunrise till noon, backlit during winter. Ramp depends on the angle but possible the whole day.|
|MISC.||Security Notes: No issues have been had here. If you use a ladder, stay 10 feet from the fence and don’t loiter within the 10 foot zone for long.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||737 = 100mm|
|Spot #8 – 35 Avenue E|
|WHERE||A small road that is slightly elevated above the fence line, and best used for movements on runway 12/30. Coming from the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (AB-2), this area can be accessed by driving west on Airport Road, turning left on Airport Perimeter Road (the first intersection after the interchange), continuing along that road and turning right on 21 Street E, followed by a left turn onto 35 Avenue E. Pull over where appropriate.|
|WHAT||From here, you can best see arrivals on runway 30 as well as heavier departures on runway 12. Runway 30 departures are also visible, with aircraft taxiing past. Ladders aren’t necessary for runway 30 arrivals, the fence dips below the runway at the touchdown zone.This particular spot does not offer a completely panoramic view though – The view to the east is blocked by a large warehouse, and the view to the west is blocked by the cargo apron and associated infrastructure, but the view is clear enough to get touchdowns on runway 30. From the BBE parking lot, you can get a full view of runway 12 departures. Aircraft on the cargo apron are also visible.|
|TIME||Only possible in the summer in the morning hours, backlit during winter.|
|MISC.||Security Notes: It’s possible to set up a ladder closer to the fence with some walking, but keep it at least 10 feet away. Use caution if you use the BBE lot for runway 12 action, you may be questioned since it’s their property. Also use caution when trying to take photos of aircraft on the cargo apron, don’t stay close to the fence for too long.|