Macaé (MEA/SBME) is located 160 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro and is called “the city of oil”, as it is the home of the Brazilian oil industry. About two hours away by helicopter, in the Atlantic Ocean, are the country’s largest oil platforms. Due to its location, Macaé became the most important airport for offshore operations in Brazil, home to a large fleet of medium and heavy helicopters that depart daily to take employees and small loads to the high seas.
Several helicopter companies are based in Macaé, but the most active one is Omni Taxi Aéreo, which has the largest fleet. In addition there are Lider, Costa Sol, Britow and BHS. Last year there was an average of 2 thousand helicopter operations per month at the airport, between 60 and 70 daily operations. The majority of operations is always with medium and heavy helicopters. You will see Sikosky S92, S76, Airbus EC225, EC135, EC155, Leonardo, Agusta, Bell etc.. Macaé has also two daily scheduled flights by Azul Airlines with the ATR72, bound for Rio de Janeiro.
From the Spotting point of view, we can say that Macaé is very interesting with its incessant arrival and departure of helicopters throughout the day. Photography locations are very easy to reach and offering a good view of the movements.
The airport has a single runway and a large aircraft apron, and was recently privatized and gained a new terminal. It is currently managed by Zurich airport. Official Airport Website
Written by Ediney Ribeiro. Last Update: March 2022.
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|06/24||1.200 m (3937ft)|
|Terminals||One terminal for all commercial passenger traffic.|
|Ladder||Ladder is not necessary.|
|Car/Public Transport||There is no need for a car as the photo points are close to each other and within a reasonable walking distance from the terminal.
Public transport is totally inadvisable. If you are staying in the city center, it is better to take a taxi or vehicles through apps, at a cost of just over 5 US dollars to the terminal.
|Drinks/Food/Restrooms||Inside the terminal there is a shop to buy drinks and food. Outside of the terminal, cross the highway that passes in front of it, and go to a nearby neighborhood with bars and restaurants.|
|Hotels||We advise you to stay in the city center. There are several for numerous prices, ranging from 20 to 60 US dollars|
|Season||In Macaé it is possible to photograph all year, most of the time it is sunny. The rainiest months are from December to February.|
|Security||We were alerted to the possibility of some kind of approach by miscreants, but we didn’t notice anything. On the contrary, people are very nice around here. Don`t show your equipment constantly and keep a low profile. Be prudent at some places without the presence of other people.|
|06/24||Both directions are used, depending on the wind, which can change more than once during the day.|
|Spot #1 – Hildebrando Alves Barbosa Avenue – 06 and 24 movements|
|WHERE||The first spot is next to touchdown zone of runway 06, on the side of Hildebrando alves Barbosa avenue, the same one that leads to the terminal. Park your car at the terminal as there are no parking options. Just walk southwards for about 600 meters to the marked position.|
|WHAT||Landings and take-offs in the morning. At the fence it is possible to photograph between the gaps or over it for the runway but usually the helicopters arrive and take off very high.|
|TIME||From sunrise until noon all year round.|
|MISC.||It is on the side of a busy avenue with several trees, providing good shade.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||About 200 to 300mm.|
|Spot #2 – Terminal Parking – 06 and 24 movements and taxi|
|WHERE||On the side of the passenger terminal there is a large space, next to the parking lot. From there it is possible to see a large number of helicopters parked or taxiing through the patio.|
|WHAT||There is a very high fence, but it is possible to photograph through the spans and also over it when the helicopters lands or take off. To photograph through the gaps in the fence, it is better to have a thin lens, for better results.|
|TIME||From sunrise until noon all year round.|
|MISC.||The terminal offers some snacks and drinks. There is no sun protection.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Helicopters taxiing and parked about 30 to 70mm
Helicopters landing or taking off from 200 to 300mm
|Spot #3 – Tenente Francisco Pires street – 06/24 movement|
|WHERE||This location is north of the airport on a dirt road at the head of runway 24, 700 meters away from the passenger terminal. Park there, walk northwards and turn left into the dirt road after you have passed the last hangars.|
|WHAT||Great place to photograph takeoffs on runway 06 and landings on runway 24.
There are two fences that separate the road from the helicopters’ patio, making it impossible to take good pictures of the taxiing aircraft.
|TIME||In this place it is possible to photograph the whole day, just change the position according to the sunlight.|
|MISC.||Despite being a few meters away from the terminal, the place is quite deserted. But it is on a road used by locals, and there is even a certain movement of people on foot and bicycle and cars as well. There’s plenty of shade, but nothing around, so take what you think is necessary.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100 at 300mm because it is possible to photograph at various angles of aircraft arriving and departing|
|Spot #4 – Ten. Francisco Pires next to runway 24 – 24 and 06 movements|
|WHERE||Follow the dirt road from the previous spot to reach the other side of the runway. Just find your preferred position along the road. There is a fence that in certain places is lower than the road, making it possible to photograph over it.|
|WHAT||It is possible to catch all the movement of the airport, landings, take-offs and taxis too. Sometimes the helicopters are already very high.|
|TIME||From afternoon until sunset all year round.|
|MISC.||It is not advisable to have a ladder here, since the terrain is very uneven and a ladder would draw the attention of the airport security and of the people who pass through there.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||150 – 300 mm|