Brussels Airport (IATA: BRU, ICAO: EBBR) is Belgium’s largest airport and centrally located in the economic heart of Europe. With the city of Brussels being the European capital and a home to many international companies and institutions, Brussels Airport is connected to the world by more than 70 airlines. In 2014 the airport received nearly 22 million passengers, an all-time record. Next to its passenger operations, Brussels Airport is also an important cargo airport, with several cargo operators having their hub in Brussels or operating multiple flights per week to the Belgian capital.

Passengers airlines having a base or operating a hub in Brussels includes national airline Brussels Airlines, Jet Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium, Jetairfly, Ryanair and Vueling. Brussels is also a cargo hub for DHL and Finnair Cargo.

Runway 25L arrivals, spot A

In normal runway configuration (80% of the time), as standard for Brussels Airport due to the dominating westerly winds, aircraft will use 25L as main landing runway and 25R for takeoff. However, in morning rush hours, European flights of among others Brussels Airlines often use 25R for landing as well as it gives a shorter taxi time to the north side of the A-concourse. Cargo airlines use 25R for landing as the cargo apron is north of the runway. All others will thus use runway 25L.

Spot A is located near the beginning of the runway and offers the possibility for making approach shots of aircraft landing on runway 25L.The height of the aircraft is not too high and in fact perfect for those wishing to photograph aircraft from the side or from the front.

In summer the sun rises in the axis of 25L, making light conditions not good for those early arrivals as you will have the light coming from the back of the aircraft, darkening both side and nose.

Sun position gets better later in the morning and starts to get good at around 10:00. Around noon, the sun should be at an angle of about 90 degrees with the aircraft, making it perfect for side approach shots. In the afternoon and evening, light only gets better and better for those wanting to make head-on and approach shots, as the sunlight shines into the aircraft engines.

At around 18:00 the sun crosses the axis of 25L and it is better to photograph from the other side of the runway. Just walk north and cross the approach lights.

How to get there?

By car: Parking is available on the road and only permitted in the zone starting at the beginning of the trees.

By train: Drive to the station of Kortenberg. There you have to exit the station to the north and always continue straight ahead, even on the roundabout. The Google Maps above shows you how to walk. The walk will take no more then 10 minutes. Kortenberg is connected directly by train from all 3 Brussels stations and the city of Leuven, with at least 1 train every hour.

Runway 25L arrivals, spot B

This place has the same characteristics as spot A. Spot B is just located at the other side of the approach line of runway 25L. Especially during Summer evenings you might have to use this spot after 18:00-19:00. When the sun turns across the other side of the runway (North side), near sunset, the lighting on spot A gets bad. This spot is not widely used as in the evening traffic gets low and most spotters have already gone home or went to other better spots.

How to get there?

By car: Parking is available on the road and only permitted in the zone starting at the beginning of the trees.

By train: Drive to the station of Kortenberg. There you have to exit the station to the north and always continue straight ahead, even on the roundabout. The Google Maps above shows you how to walk. The walk will take no more than 10 minutes. Kortenberg is connected directly by train from all 3 Brussels stations and the city of Leuven, with at least 1 train every hour.

Runway 25L arrivals, 07R departures

Runway 25L arrivals

At this spot you can photograph aircraft touching down on the runway. The spot is located just a few meters down the runway from the touch-down-zone. Thanks to 2 constructed hills this spot offers a higher view upon the runway, enabling to photograph aircraft without having to use a ladder. However, without ladder you might have some fence in the bottom of your photo, depending on where you stand and which view you’d like to have.

Light conditions are the same as for spot A. This means that in the morning the sun rises in the axis of 25L, so aircraft will not be perfectly lit and will have dark areas near nose and side. Sun position however will gradually improve during the morning hours. At around noon the sun is in a 90 degree position with the runway. In afternoon and evening the sun positions starts to get perfect for photographing aircraft more from the front, with the sunlight in the engines.

Runway 07R take-off

With easterly winds this runway is used exclusively as a departing runway for all traffic, except cargo (they will most of the time use 07L for takeoff). This spot is therefore a perfect place to photograph departing aircraft in the morning.

Depending on the wind speed, aircraft will rotate slightly before the spot. Smaller aircraft tend to rotate quite late down the runway as they will use an intersection takeoff, meaning they start their takeoff roll not at the beginning of the runway.

Light is perfect as from sunrise and will be good throughout the morning. As from noon, the sun is at a 90 degree position with the runway, making it more difficult to photograph the departures from the front.

How to get there?

By car: You will pass an asylum center (127 bis) on your left/right hand side (depending on which direction you are coming from). Turn off onto the access road to this center. At the end of this road you will see 2 hills on the left and right side where you can stand.

Officially this parking spot is for visitors only. Parking your car is therefore at your own risk. Experience shows us that most of the time parking your car over there won’t pose any problem.

Another option is to park your car near the local Nossegem football club. When on the Mechelsesteenweg driving north (heading airport), turn left into the ‘Namenstraat’. Further down this road there is a possibility to park your car just next to this street.

By train: If you are by train, you will have to go to the station of Nossegem. There you’ll have to exit the station to the north and continue straight ahead until you reach the asylum center on your right.

Runway 25L arrivals, 07R and 19 departures

This spot offers a panoramic view upon the runway intersection of runway 01/19 and runway 25L/07R. You can photograph landing aircraft on runway 25L as well as departing aircraft on runway 07R. For this spot a decent 200mm or 300mm lens is required.

Another great photo opportunity at this spot is that you can take shots of departing aircraft from runway 19. This runway is partially used for departures during weekends. Here you’ll also need 200-300mm and even 400mm for smaller aircraft. Light for this spot is good till 13:00, when most heavies will have departed anyway.

Runway 25L landings and runway 07R departures are generally fine for sunlight until the evening.

How to get there?

By car: You can park your car near the Nossegem football club, at the Erpestraat, but you will have to walk the last 30 – 50 meters.

By train: If you are by train, you will have to go to the station of Nossegem. There you’ll have to exit the station to the north and continue straight ahead until you cross the Erpestraat on the left. Take this street and walk straight ahead. Once you passed the football club buildings, take a slight right turn towards the spot location.

Runway 01 arrivals and departures, spot A

This spot is often referred to as the best spot at Brussels Airport. With the eastern runway configuration in effect, all traffic will land on runway 01, including cargo and military aircraft. From this spot it’s also possible to photograph line-ups on runway 01, although this is quite rare and almost never done. From here you’ll also have an overview on departing aircraft from runway 07R, but due to the distance photographing is difficult.

For this spot you need to have a 50-70mm lens if you want to photograph heavy aircraft from the side. A suitable lens for all aircraft would be somewhere between 50 and 200mm. A ladder is not required for this spot if you don’t mind having a small part of the fence in your photo, although a lot of planespotters bring their ladder with them.

Sunlight is perfect from sunrise till around 11:00. At around 13:00 the sun will cross the axis of runway 01 and it’s better to move to the other side of the runway.

Please mind that you have to walk over the field of a farmer so please walk as close to the airport fence as possible as not to damage his field. When it has rained there is a lot of mud and you will get dirty when you reach this spot, but the view is worth the effort.

How to get there?

By car: There are parking places available on the west side of the approach path of runway 01. Continue down the road by foot and walk under the approach path of 01. Then you will have to go off the road and walk along the airport fence until you reach a green area on the right side of the runway 01 (near the big forest on the right).

By train: Take a train to the station of Nossegem. Leave the platform to the west. From there, you have stairs leading you to the bridge of the railway. Go north and take immediately the grassy pedestrian road on your left. If you follow this road it will bring you to the approach path of runway 01 in about 15 minutes.

Runway 01 arrivals and departures, spot B

Located on the other side of runway 01, this spot is good for evening approach shots on runway 01. At 13:00 the light is at its worst, improving in the afternoon and getting great in the evening. All lenses can be used here, ranging between 70 and 400mm.

How to get there?

By car: There are parking places available on the west side of the approach path of runway 01. Continue down the road by foot and walk under the approach path of 01. Then you will have to go off the road and walk along the airport fence until you reach a green area on the right side of the runway 01 (near the big forest on the right).

By train: Take a train to the station of Nossegem. Leave the platform to the west. From there, you have stairs leading you to the bridge of the railway. Go north and take immediately the grassy pedestrian road on your left. If you follow this road it will bring you to the approach path of runway 01 in about 15 minutes.

 

Runway 01 and 25L arrivals, 07R departures

This spot is located on the top level of car parking P3 on the south side of the airport. It offers a panoramic view on runway 01 (in front of you) and 25L/07R (to the right).

From here there are a range of possibilities to photograph depending on your lenses. For whatever photo you want, we advise at least 200mm.

You can photograph aircraft vacating runway 25L and while taxiing to their gate at the A or B-concourse. The best moment for this spot is when 01 and 07R are in use. You can photograph aircraft landing on runway 01, just in front of you. Also all aircraft taxiing to runway 07R for departure will pass below you. During afternoons and evenings this spot is quite popular among planespotters.

Light is getting acceptable as from 15-16:00, improving during the evening.

How to get there?

By car: bear in mind that parking your car here is expensive. Once at the airport, follow the markers that lead to parking ‘P3’. Then take the elevator to level 6, which is the top of the parking.

By train: Brussels Airport has a large train station with direct trains connecting to main cities like Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven, Ghent and Bruges. From the airport station go to the departure level, exit the building and walk to the left along the Sheraton hotel. The P3 parking is next to the Sheraton. Take the elevator to level 6.

Runway 25R departures

This car parking is of the same height as car parking P3 and is on the other side of the Sheraton Hotel. From here you’ll have a view on runway 25R, making it the perfect location to photograph departing traffic. However, due to the distance from the runway we advise at least 200-300mm for heavies and 400mm for smaller aircraft.

As from 0930-1200 it is rush hour at Brussels Airport for departing aircraft. Most of the long haul flights leave during this time span and will all rotate in front of you.

There are some obstacles that you have to take into account (light poles and wires) but it’s perfectly possible to photograph without any of these on your photos. Just find yourself a suitable spot. Light is good from morning till early evening.

How to get there?

By car: bear in mind that parking your car here is expensive. Once at the airport, follow the markers that lead to parking ‘P1’. Then take the elevator to level 6, which is the top of the parking.

By train: Brussels Airport has a large train station with direct trains connecting to main cities like Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven, Ghent and Bruges. From the airport station go to the departure level, exit the building and walk right. The P1 parking is next to the Sheraton. Take the elevator to level 6.

Runway 07L departures and arrivals, 25R departures

This spot offers a view upon the line-up of runway 07L departures, although this is a very rare occasion. 07L for landing or departures is rare, although nowadays this can happen a few times a year, but only for a very limited period (1 or 2 hours). Luckily departing traffic from 25R can be spotted as well.

The spot is located across the new big Brussels Airlines crew parking. You can enter it for free but you cannot park your car as the parking is only for crew/staff of the aircrafts and in special Brussels Airlines. You can neither park a bit further on the road. You will have to park quite an end further back to the airport or on the small road about 20m lower located than the parking which is basically located on a small hill/slope. You can also take a free bus from the main airport building, and get off at the third stop (Brussels Airlines headquarters).

The spot is located a bit behind a bus stop at a fire gate entrance to the taxiway and runway. You can either take pictures over the fence with a stair (high enough, about 1m50 at least.) or trough the bars of the fence which are about 15cm spaced from each other. You will have a great opportunity to take pictures of departing aircraft on the ground on the taxiway. Good chance to take close-up’s. A 200mm-lens will be enough for the smaller aircraft, larger aircraft will only require about 150mm zoom or less.

Aircraft approaching to runway 07L will have to perform a VOR/DME approach or a visual approach if the weather permits and in accordance to tower permission. As runway 07L is not fitted with an ILS landing system in that direction, aircraft will have to approach partly on instruments (VOR/DME) till a certain point and then have to take over manual control and will only establish on the runway quite late, resulting in nice bank maneuvers as sometimes approaching airplanes have to avoid the city center of Brussels and especially the Royal Palace at Laken.

Approach shots are possible starting from sunrise till about 18:00 before you will get too much backlit on sunny days. On clouded days it is considered that it is possible to take pictures unlimited till sunset.

Runway 25R arrivals

Most of the time only cargo or military aircraft use 25R for landing, besides a few regular airlines like Brussels Airlines, EasyJet and Ryanair who might use this runway as well during morning rush hours.

Landings on 25R are more common during weekends, although according to current procedures (spring 2015) 25L should still be used as main landing runway in weekends.

This spot is located in the town of Steenokkerzeel near the ATC tower of Brussels airport and behind the stone sound wall. The spot is at the small cemetery of Steenokkerzeel. There is a small road to the cemetery starting from the old road through the town center.

There are some parking spots in front of the cemetery where the spot is located. You can stand on the small grass field at the parking spot. It is prohibited to make a lot of noise or to enter the cemetery with your camera or whenever you don’t need to be there. Please keep in mind this is still a cemetery and show the necessary respect

Sunlight conditions are the same as for 25L.

How to get there?

By car: Parking is available at the cemetery. The street itself is not ‘Coenenstraat’ but when you enter that street, follow the signs to the cemetery, which is the first street to the right. You cannot reach this spot by train, nor directly by bus. There is a bus line running through the village coming from the airport, but you’ll have to use Google maps to find your directions.