YYZ Spot 1
Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ/CYYZ) is Canada’s largest airport and the main gateway for the city of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). In 2017, around 47 Million passengers travelled through the airport – also commonly referred to only as “YYZ” – making it the 34th busiest airport worldwide.
Pearson International is the homebase and main hub of Air Canada and its subsidiaries Air Canada Express (B1900, CRJ, Dash8, E175) and Rouge (A319, A321, 763) and an important base for WestJet (incl. Encore which operates one of the largest Dash8-Q400 fleets). Together, they represent the majority of traffic. The Canadian airlines AirTransat and Sunwing offer dozens of daily flights, too. Apart from them, YYZ is served by all mainline US-carriers and many different airlines from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and the Middle East, such as Hainan Airlines, LOT, Emirates, BA, Egypt Air, Saudia, Cubana and Icelandair, just to mention a few of them. The airport is open 24h but just a few flights, mainly cargo, are at night.
It is located around 22km northwest of Toronto’s city center. The bigger part of the airport’s surface is located on the territory of the neighboring city of Mississauga. Pearson Intl. can be reached via Highways 409 and 427. If you prefer to take the train, you can take the Toronto subway to “Kipling” station and continue with the “Airport Rocket”. Since June 2015 it is also possible to go directly from Toronto Central Station to Terminal 1 by using the “Union Pearson Express”.
Regarding the amount of photos and Videos taken at YYZ, one could easily get the impression that plane spotting at YYZ is very popular – during our visit we experienced that this is not entirely correct. At the famous spots, spotters are a known sight, but when it comes to the less popular spots, you should expect to be approached by the authorities and probably to be displaced.
Written by M. Lehmann, S. Hackenberger, J. Seba, L. Manara, Marcus, J. Mittnacht and Th. Okaty (Last Visit November 2018).
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| (7 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)
|05/23||3.389 m (11.1120 ft) Asphalt|
|06L/24R||2.955 m (9.697 ft) Asphalt|
|06R/24L||2.743 m (9.000 ft) Asphalt|
|15L/33R||3.368 m (11.050 ft) Asphalt|
|15R/33L||2.770 m (9.088 ft) Asphalt|
|Terminal 1||Air Canada and Star Alliance partners, Emirates (A380)|
|Terminal 3||WestJet, SkyTeam, Oneworld and all other carriers|
|Infield Terminal||Some international carriers, eg Icelandair, WOW, Condor|
|Ladder||Not needed and even not recommended; the use of a ladder next to the airport fence will attract the authorities.|
|Car/Public Transport||We recommend one, especially for spots number 5-10. You can also park directly at almost every spotting location.
If you stay in one of the hotels next to the terminals and there are 23/24 ops. you can walk or use public transport to spots 1-4 and 11.
|Restrooms||In the terminal and in the many many restaurants and hotels around the airport. Especially at locations 1-4 and 11.|
|Drinks/Food||There are a few restaurants and shops nearby every spotting location offering supply of food and Drinks. Especially at locations 1-4 and 11.|
|Hotels||There are many hotels nearby the Airport especially east of the terminals along Dixon Rd. From there you can walk to spots 1-4 and even 11 if you don´t mind. There are some with a nice view of RWY24 approach too so just ask for a room heading south.|
|Season||The traffic at Toronto Pearson does basically consist of mainline and Business carriers, that is why there is no remarkable difference between summer and winter in number of movements. The canadian carriers offering seasonal (charter) flights to Europe during the summer and to Florida, Carribbean Sea and South America during the cold canadian winter months.
Due to the directon of the two main runways, spotting makes more sense during the warmer summer months.
|05/23||One of the two main runways and used in all directions. Mainly northern routes using this runway which includes most heavies.|
|06L/24R||One of the two main runways and used in all directions. Mainly southern routes using this runway.|
|06R/24L||Less in use than his parallel running partner but used in all directions too. Especially during peak times it is used for arrivals whilst 06L/24R is used for departures.|
|15L/33R||Barely in use during strong winds only.|
|15R/33L||Barely in use during strong winds only.|
|Spot #1 – Park´N Fly & Coffee Time on Carlingview Dr – 24R arrivals|
|WHERE||The spots on the Park`N Fly parking lot and the Coffee Time parking lot respectively are located east and west of Carlingview Drive (near the Dixon Rd & Carlingview Dr intersection). Please check their website for the current parking rates. If you are coming from the terminal or stay in one of the airport hotels in that area you can easily walk to these spots.
The angle at the Coffe Time parking lot is a bit more unfavorable compared to the Park´N Fly location, but you can park there free of charge and there are no obstructing objects. On the Park`N Fly lot, the view is partially obstructed by light poles and power lines, but there are enough gaps.
|WHAT||Arrivals on RWY 24R only.|
|TIME||From mid-late afternoon until sunset. In winter, there will only be a short window for decently lit shots.|
|MISC.||There are plenty of gas stations, hotels and (fast food) restaurants on Carlingview Dr.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Park`N Fly: 738 = 350mm
Coffee Time: 738 = 180mm
|Spot #2 – Warehouses – 24R arrivals|
|WHERE||From the terminal, follow the signs towards the Airport Road. Go East on Airport road and right on Carlingview Drive. After the Hooters restaurant, go left onto Meteor Drive and enter the industrial area. Find a spot on the parking lot.|
|WHAT||Arrivals runway 24R.|
|TIME||From sunrise until afternoon all year round.|
|MISC.||There is nothing nearby. This are some companies so its “private property”. It is better to visit it during weekends when nobody is there. Alternative is #3.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||~ 170 – 250 mm.|
|Spot #3 – Silver Dart Dr – 24R arrivals and line-up|
|WHERE||This is an alternative to #2. Coming from Spot #1, Carlingview Drive turn the next right, pass the 427 and then left. There is a small open parking to your right hand side. It belongs to Hertz Rent a Car but it should be fine if you stay there (we had no problems for three days). Oterhwise you can park at #1, spot in the morning here and walk back to you car when the sun has moved to the opposite side.
Now you have to walk along SilverDart Dr. for just a few minutes heading to the 24R approach path. Stay on the right side behind the barriers until you have find your prefered position. For line-up you have to cross SilverDart Dr. and you have to shot through the fence. When the sun moves to the other side just continue on this road. A parking for the afternoon side is marked on the map.
You can walk there from the terminals too as the SilverDart Dr. starts at the international terminal.
|WHAT||All arrivals and line-up on 24R|
|TIME||From sunrise until afternoon all year round. In summer summer move to the other side when the sun has turned around.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby. Everything you need at Spot #1.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Arrival: 763 = 100mm; CRJ900 = 140mm; 73G = 140mm
Line-Up: 717 = 160mm; 763= 100mm; Dash8-Q400 = 180mmAfternoon: A320 = 140mm; CRJ200 = 150mm
|Spot #4 – Silver Dart Dr – 24L arrivals|
|WHERE||Same direction as described above but from the parking just cross the road.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on 24L only. Mainly in use during peak times when 24R is in use for departures.|
|TIME||From sunrise until afternoon all year round.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby. Everything you need at Spot #1.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Dash 8-100 = 150mm; Dash 8-Q400 = 100mm|
|Spot #5 – Convair Drive – 06R arrivals|
|WHERE||The spot is at the Convair Drive. Easy to reach if coming from spots 3/4 you just have to follow the road along the perimeter fence, parallel to 06R/24L till the end of the runway. A small area is available for parking your car. An elevated grass area offers a perfect place to relax, position your equipment and shoot landing aircraft that come very low and with a perfect light in the morning.|
|WHAT||06R and 06L arrivals and 06L line-ups. 06R is only in use during peak times.|
|TIME||From sunrise until afternoon all year round.|
|MISC.||Absolutley nothing nearby. No issues with security or police. No ladder needed for ground photos as you can easily photograph over the fence.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||06L: CRJ200 = 160mm, 06R arrival and line-up: B738 = 320mm|
|Spot #6 – Dead End Rd – 06L/R arrivals|
|WHERE||The spot is on the opposite side of the terminals at the end of Luke Rd. Easy to reach if coming from spots 3/4 you just have to follow the road along the perimeter fence, parallel to 06R/24L. Then three times left and you are in Luke Rd. Drive until the end. There is a bus stop at Dixie Rd if you don´t have a car.|
|WHAT||06L/R arrivals only.|
|TIME||In the summer only from late afternoon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Absolutley nothing nearby. Some hotels and fast food chains at Dixie Rd south of it.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||77W = 90mm; 73H = 160mm|
|Spot #7 – Hill – 33L arrivals and departures|
|WHERE||The spot is at the threshold of RWY 33L. Use the same road if coming from #3/4 parallel to the runway but instead of turning left to #5 continue a few meters until you see a small hill to your left, on the opposite side of the threshold. Park along the road and climb up to avoid the fence in your photos.|
|WHAT||In the rare case they use 33L this is a good spot. We did not test it but departures on 15R should be possible too if you walk a bit more down the road.|
|TIME||From noon till sunset all year round.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby. Don´t block the crash gate when parking.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||763 = 140mm; A330 = 120mm|
|Spot #8 – Infield Terminal – 15L/33R|
|WHERE||Once again if coming from 3/4 on the parallel route take the first right after you have passed the threshold of RWY06. Continue until you see the Inflield Terminal and turn right before it. Drive until the fence and park your car on the right side.|
|WHAT||All movements on RWY 15L/33R and taxiway E.|
|TIME||From noon until sunset all year round.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby. Taking the photos through the mesh is a bit tricky as the planes on the runway are already very quick.|
We can´t provide sample pictures at the moment so please don´t hesitate to send us your photos from this location by using our contact form!
|Spot #9 – Dixie Rd – Runway 05 Arrivals|
|WHERE||This is a very popular spot among locals along Dixie Road, just south of the Dixie & Derry intersection. Roadside parking is available in a little street called Director Gate, which is just off of Dixie. Mind the heavy traffic on Dixie Rd when walking over to the spotting location! In the morning the game can be tricky as trees and electric poles are a challenge, however, there are plenty of gaps to get good shots. There is an alternate location on Davand Drive, which runs parallel to Dixie Rd. Don’t get fooled, the sign at the entrance to the business at this spot says “1365 Mid-way Blvd” though. The advantage of this location on Danard over the one on Dixie is that you have your car close by – parking is available all along the road – and that there is much less traffic. Disadvantage: approaching planes will disappear behind a building for a short moment (see sample shot of the Etihad 773) and you will also be dealing with trees and power lines partially obstructing your view.
For the afternoon (summer only), coming from Director Gate, just walk across the grassy area along Dixie Rd towards the Dixie/Derry intersection until you have put enough distance between yourself and the approach path to avoid using a wide-angle lens.
|WHAT||All arrivals on runway 05. Departures on 23 are already quite high, but doable. This runway is mostly used by the international traffic/wide bodies.|
|TIME||From sunrise until afternoon all year round and until sunset during the summer months. In summer, when the sun has turned around, move to the other side.|
|MISC.||Various fast food places and gas stations along Dixie Rd.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||For 05 arrivals
Morning (Dixie): 772 = 60mm; E175 = 110mm
Morning (Davand): 773 = 120mm; A321 = 180mm
Afternoon: 773 = 70mm; DHC-8Q400 = 120mm
For 23 departures (in climb): >250mm
Dixie Rd – sunrise until afternoon:
|Spot #10 – FedEx/Crash Gate- 05/23 movements|
|WHERE||From the terminals drive westwards on the Airport Rd, pass spot 8/9 and turn left on the next big junction into Derry Rd. Drive it all the way down, pass some hangars and turn left after you have reached the FedEx complex. You will reach a crash gate after a few hundred meters. Don´t block it and park your car on the right side! Its forbidden on the left.
You have to shot through the mesh on the left (23 ops) and right side (05 ops) of the crash gate.
|WHAT||Best for 05 arrivals and departures. General Aviation traffic will pass by on taxiway J, traffic from the terminals on the opposite side on taxiway H.
Also perfect for 23 departures from the fence for heavy aircraft or step back for lighter aircraft. 23 arrivals are possible but tricky due to heat when they use the first exit (see Air Azores A330)
Furthermore you can see and photograph the cargo ramp.
|TIME||Late afternoon until sunset (summer only!).|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby. Its a known spot for locals so you shouldn´t have issues there except you block the gate.
Taking the photos through the mesh is a bit tricky as the planes on the runway are already very quick.
|FOCAL LENGTH||100-200mm to cover most movements.|
Runway 05 operations:
Runway 23 operations:
|Spot #11 – Airport Rd – Arrivals RWY23|
|WHERE||This likely most popular spotting location at YYZ is right next to a gas station, which used to make for spectacular shots. However, the roof of the gas station has been removed in 2018, so it’s not as peculiar as it used to be. Nonetheless, it remains a great spotting location!
If coming from the terminals just follow the Airport Road for about 2km in western direction until you can see a Wendy’s and a Petrol-Canada gas station on your right. Park your car nearby and pick your preferred position (mainly depending on your preferred angle).
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 23 and line-up. For the latter you have to cross the road and shoot through the mesh of the fence.|
|TIME||You can stay here the whole day. In the morning find a location next to the CIBC bank and in the afternoon (summer months only!) move to the opposite side just a little bit more westwards of the gas station.
Line-Up shots possible only from sunrise until afternoon.
|MISC.||Everything nearby, like Wendy’s or the gas station. Various hotels are located on Airport Rd and adjacent roads.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||50 – 300mm|
Sunrise through early afternoon:
Early afternoon until sunset (summer only, shots were taken from the parking garage, see update above!):
|Spot #12 – International Blvd – 24L arrivals|
|WHERE||This spot, which is an alternative to spot #4, is located on the parking lot of the Canadian Baptist Church headquarters right next to the Carlingview Dr & International Blvd intersection. The angle is slightly more favorable compared to spot #4, however, there are a few lamp posts on the parking lot, which have sufficient gaps though, but will force you to time your shots properly.
We didn’t encounter any issues while spotting from this location, but bear in mind that it is a private property, so be prepared to be asked to leave!
|WHAT||Arrivals on RWY 24L only.|
|TIME||From sunrise until early afternoon in summer and until late afternoon in winter.|
|MISC.||Nothing on-site, bring everything you need.|
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