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Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau – Spotting Guide
Montreal is the largest airport in the province of Quebec. Located 15km west of the city, the Pierre-Elliott Trudeau owes its name to a popular politician who was twice prime minister and who undertook significant changes in its terms. The complex, located in the small city of Dorval, has a large terminal located west oriented between 24L-06R and 24R-06L which it is intersected by a shorter 28-10 parallel tracks. In the center of the two parallel tracks maintenance center Air Canada.
Always between two parallel but to the east is the factory Bombardier aircraft manufacturing with assembly private planes like “Challenger” chain. Southeast is a small general aviation terminal and messaging, with some specific flights including air bridge to the northern city carrying labor mines. The runway use is determined by the wind, 24L-06R generally used for departures, 24R-06L for arrivals. The 28-10 are rarely used and demand for small regional aircraft if a strong wind dictates. Airlines Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Air Canada Rouge and Air Transat have established their base in Montreal, as the charters Sunwings and Westjet. Other companies Raglan, First Air, Air Inuit, Air Creebec also operate regular flights from the ground. From the USA, American, United, Delta insure their rotations using models “short haul”.
Long distance flights mainly from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa are operated by Air France, British, KLM, Lufthansa, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, Air Algerie and Tunis Air. There are no pure cargo business, except occasionally flights transporting heavy equipment for the needs of the Bombardier plant. The freight operations are concentrated in Mirabel, the old airport. Perspective traffic, a rush of departures was observed in the morning between 7 and 9 with regional companies. Then from 11am these flights return to mingling with many long-haul and large aircraft. Between 15 and 18h are incessant departures as small as large appliances and the day ends with the return of the regional fleet until the nightfall. Throughout the day, business flights are added as test flights of new aircraft manufactured by Bombardier on the site and deliveries.
Written by Cédric Valence, Thomas Okaty and Marcus. Thanks to King F Hui, Philipp Schütz and Robert Haentschel for providing pictures. Last update: May 2023 – Spot 10
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| (20 votes, average: 4.45 out of 5)
|06L/24R||3.353 m (11,000 ft)|
|06R/24L||2.926 m (9,600 ft)|
|10/28||2.134 m (7,000 ft)|
|Terminal A||Air Canada, Air Transat, Westjet, Sunwing, all other carriers|
|Terminal C||Air Canada, Air Transat, Westjet, Sunwing, American, Delta, United|
|Ladder||Better for locations 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10. The use of a ladder is tolerated by the airport authorities and the fence is not so high so 3 steps are enough.|
|Car/Public Transport||You need a car to go to 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10. If you don’t stay at the Holiday Inn Express you need a car to get to 1, 2 and 3.
Spots 7, 11 and 12 are reachable by foot from the terminal.
|Restrooms||Only available at airport for spot 7.|
|Drinks/Food||Only available at airport for spot 7. Nothing directly at the other locations but some fast food restaurants can be found along Autoroute Cote de Liesse.|
|Hotels||Holiday Inn Express, Sheraton Montreal Airport and the Aloft Montreal Airport about 10-15 min walk from points 1, 2 and 3, free shuttle to/from airport|
|Season||Winters are very cold with snow, best from May to September. Also some spots not usable in winter due to bad light.|
|06L/24R||Mainly for arrivals with the exception of companies with the hangar located on the other runway. Also some regional flights with the hangar on this runway depart from here (Air Inuit, Hydro-Quebec) and some flights heading into north, like some Air Creebec.|
|06R/24L||Mainly for departures. You can see landing on this runway companies with the hangar/parking slot near it like Raglan, Air Creebec, Air Canada maintenance flights, Bombardier flights and some regional aircraft with his parking slot on the South Terminal (Westjet, Air Canada Express, Porter). Also General Aviation/businnes jets use this runway.|
|10/28||Rarely used, just when the weather forces it|
|WHERE||At the end of Avenue Jenkins, there is a large field. It’s possible to join the fence and take pictures of movements on 24L-06R. It’s not absolutely necessary because you’re over the fence, but need a chair or a little ladder if you want to take pictures without the fence in the bottom of your shot. You can park directly at the location.
UPDATE MAY 2023: Parking directly at the location is no longer possible because of concrete barriers at the entrance. By foot you can still access this please but future is unknown.
|WHAT||It’s spossible to take pictures or arrivals and departures on runway 06R, there is a fantastic background with the airport and the Canadair hangars. You also may take pictures of the taxi to 24L but there are heat hases due to the runway at the front. For the departures 24L, prefer walking a little bit backwards, there is a stone mont and climb to take good pictures of departures with good degagement. Heavy airplanes are in a good angle but light are a little hight. park alont the street.|
|TIME||From sunrise till 13:00|
|MISC.||There is no toilet and no shop, take your dispositions before going there.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A320 @ 65mm at point 1 and 180mm at point 2.|
Arrivals and departures runway 06R
Departures 24L from the large field close of the street
|WHERE||This park is an official spotting location. It is located on Avenue Jenkins (Ave Jenkins and Ave Halpern intersection), which runs parallel to runway 06R/24L. There is no designated parking lot, but you can park your car roadside. In the northwestern corner of the park, you will find a dedicated spotting mound, which clears the airport fence. The park also offers a number of benches, however, there are none on the mound, so if you can, consider bringing a chair. If the mound is too crowded, which can easily happen on the weekend, or if you only carry a long telephoto lens, then you can also stand on the bleachers near the center of the park, which are farther back from the airport fence, however, you might have the airport fence in the bottom part of your frame now as they are not as high as the mound.|
|WHAT||All movements on runway 06R/24L and taxiway A. All aircraft, which come from or go to the main terminal use this taxiway when either 06R is being used for arrivals or 24L is operative for departures. Aircrafts which are being towed to/from the Air Canada maintenance facility use taxiway A as well. Heat haze can be an issue on the taxiway after 9:30/10:00am in summer.|
|TIME||From sunrise until early afternoon.|
|MISC.||Park along the street. No stores or restaurants in walking distance, so bring everything you need. There is a cabin for restroom. Also, no shade and no shelter!|
|FOCAL LENGTH||50-200 mm for runway, up to 400 mm for taxiway A.|
Examples of departures 24L, arrivals and departures 06R are in the fence.
The spot is at the northern end of Avenue Chartier next to the official viewing park #3. There is a parking lot but spotters never get chased. There are two fences, so you need a ladder to clear it.
|WHAT||Its a better choice to #2 if there are westbound operations. Arrivals on 24L are still on the runway and the 24L departures too. 06R ops are also no problem.|
|TIME||From sunrise until early afternoon.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||CRJ200= 200mm|
|WHERE||Coming from Avenue Cote de Liesse turn right into Avenue Renaud and take the next right into Avenue Ryan. It is just a 100 meters long dead end road. Park your car here and wait for aircraft. Sometimes taxi drivers take a nap in their car here, so please be silent…|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 24L only. 24L landing might be used by special airlines like Raglan or Nolinor as their hangars are closeby. Also from time to time 24R is closed during the day.|
|TIME||Morning until noon.|
|MISC.||No food, no restrooms. There is a 1,80 meter fence which might disturb. A small ladder could be helpful. Or just use your car as an elevation.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||200 – 300mm|
|WHERE||This spot is located along the Chemin Saint-François on the northern part of the airport. It is a dead end road and you can easily park along the road. This spot isn’t an exact positions, rather an area along the fence, depends on what moment you wanna take pictures of.|
|WHAT||Departures 06L and 24R are great from here. In case of arrivals on runway 24R; some airplanes leave the runway earlier, but bigger airplanes always ride on the runway in front of you – depends on the exact position you’re standing at, too.|
|TIME||From 3PM till sunset.|
|MISC.||There is no toilet and no shop, take your dispositions before going there. Small ladder is quite useful, otherwise you can use things like a car to get higher, so over the small wooden fence, but it will still disturb the pictures! Security pass by but don´t care about us.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||B767-300 about 120mm|
|WHERE||From the airport, drive westwards on Avenue Cardinal. After passing the golf course turn right onto Avenue Thorncrest and follow this road all the way to the end. Park your car roadside (mind the signs for street cleaning!) near the crash barrier, now you have to continue on foot. Just walk past the crash barrier along the park and playground (on your left) towards the end of paved surface. There you will see the spotting hill right in front of you, climb up and pick your preferred spot.|
|WHAT||Best spot for 06L arrivals in the morning. Line up for 06L perhaps possible, too.|
|TIME||Sunrise until early afternoon for arrivals.|
|MISC.||Nothing near by, bring everything you need. No restrooms, no shade, no shelter.|
|WHERE||Across from the airport’s terminal, there is a parking garage. Take the lift to the highest floor or – if arriving by car – park your car right next to you on the deck.
UPDATE MAY 2023: There are ongoing construction works on the garage. The upper corner is still blocked but you can find other opportunities.
|WHAT||You’ll take good shots of landings 06R and taxi for departures 06R. If runway 24L is in use for arrivals, you may shoot some airplanes using the last taxiway but you’ll miss a lot because airplanes usually use a taxiway before. Departures on 24L may be shot there but airplanes are already fairly high in climb. Heat haze can be a problem if planes parked at the concourse have engines or APU running.|
|TIME||From 11AM till evening.|
|MISC.||There are shops, food and restrooms in the terminal (about 5 minute walk).|
|FOCAL LENGTH||B737-800 on the taxiway about 220mm
Approach 06R : A320 about 75mm
|WHERE||Between the Route Transcanadienne and the Autoroute Comedey you will find the Chemin Saint-François Street. This road leads you through a industrial area and some storage halls. If you drive on this road into south-western direction you’ll cross the Autoroute Comedey. Just 250m after this you should see a high mast on your right (just in the curve). Park your car nearby and come back to the meadow. Choose your favourite position, this depends on the angle you like the most!|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 24R only.|
|TIME||This position is only usable from February to mid-November, due lighting. Otherwise you’ll be fine from 3.30 p.m. until sunset.|
|MISC.||If you drive back the Chemin Saint-François for about 600m you’ll find a gas station on your left. There you can get something to eat and there you’ll find restrooms, too.
Ladder is not needed here.
|WHERE||Close to spot 4 and an alternative for hassle-free spotting you can move to the dead-end road Boulevard Pitfield. It is just on the other side of the motorway 13. You can enter it from Boulevard de la Cote Vertu. Parking is easy, so just find your preferred position. If you stay close to company DHB you have the advantage to see the aircraft quite early.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 24R only.|
|TIME||Morning until noon.|
|MISC.||There is nothing around, so take whatever you need with you. Be aware of light poles.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Depending on your position between 100-300mm|
|WHERE||This spot is located in Rue Gougeon, a small street in the industrial area. Simply get rid of your car nearby and search your favourite position along the roadside…|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 24L.|
|TIME||Useable in the afternoon till sunset – only in summer.|
|MISC.||Nothing around here as you are in an industrial area. But with the car some gas station/shops are reachable.|
|WHERE||This spot can be found right next to the entrance of the employee parking lot on Boulevard Albert de Niverville. When arriving by car, follow the signs to “Cell Parc” (cellphone lot) and park your car in the cellphone lot. From there it is about a 5 minute walk on the grassy shoulder (no sidewalk) of Blvd A. de Niverville to the spot. From the terminal, it’s about a 10 minute walk.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 06R.|
|TIME||4pm until sunset (the sample photos were taken at around 3pm in early May).|
|MISC.||Nothing near by, bring everything you need. Restrooms in the terminal. No shade, no shelter. There are a few lamp posts on the parking lot, but gaps are big enough to get proper shots.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100 – 250mm|
|WHERE||This spot is located at the corner of Cardinal Avenue and a former road, which was dismantled to make room for an Air Transat facility. A crash barrier separates the remaining segment of the road from the Air Transat property. Spot 12 is an alternative to spot 11, however, it provides the advantage, that you can park your car right at the location. Nonetheless, it can also be reached by foot, it’s a good 20 minute walk from the terminal.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 06R.|
|TIME||4pm until sunset|
|MISC.||Nothing near by, bring what you need. No shade and no shelter, unless you have a car with you. No restrooms. There are some powerlines along Cardinal Ave, but approaching aircraft will be high enough that they will be out of the frame for 90 degree and slightly angled shots.|
|WHERE||This spot is located at the end of Rue Hervé Saint-Martin near the Air Canada facility. Take Boulevard de la Cote-Vertu heading to the Air Transat/Canda/Inuit – Bombardier facilities. After the Air Inuit (on the right) turn right and take Rue Hervé Saint-Martin. Follow until the end and than turn right into the Aéro Mag 2000 parking. Here you are facing the de-icing apron.|
|WHAT||Parked aircrafts on the de-icing apron|
|TIME||Sunrise until midday in summer|
|MISC.||Nothing near by, bring what you need, anyway you won’t spend more than 5 mins here. You need at least a 5 steps ladder, the fence isn’t great to shot throught and airplanes might be too aside from you to get a shot.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||70mm A330|