9:55 PM, 21°C MOSTLY CLEAR. Fri 30 Jan 2015(SYDNEY TIME)

Plane Spotters

With three runways, more than 300,000 aircraft movements a year and a wide range of aircraft types that fly in and out daily, Sydney Airport is a great location for plane spotting. 

Our location and proximity to the city means that you can capture great shots of aircraft with the city, Port Botany or Botany Bay in the background. 

There are various locations around the airport where aircraft can be observed and photographed. 

Main plane spotting locations

  • Sheps Hill (Tower Mound) – located under the control tower off Ross Smith Avenue 
  • The Beach (Lady Robinson’s Beach) – located near the old control tower, exit off General Holmes Drive 
  • Airport Drive 
  • Hammond Place – best location for viewing helicopters 
  • Rydges Sydney Airport – For 180-degree views of the airfield, plane spotters may purchase a pass for Rydges Sydney Airport Level 9 rooftop conference room. The Dreamliner room has a small outdoor viewing deck and passes include a beverage from the Touch&Go Café. Please note that the space is strictly subject to availability and Rydges posts opening times on its Facebook page daily. For more information, go to the Rydges Sydney Airport planespotting page.     

Security and restricted areas 

Security at Sydney Airport is governed by the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005.  

Please obey any road or security signage while in the airport precinct and comply with the directions of Sydney Airport security staff or the Australian Federal Police. 

Any vehicle, step ladder, camera equipment or any other object that may facilitate a breach of airport security must be at least three metres from the perimeter fence at all times. 

Airport Watch 

We operate Airport Watch in partnership with the Australian Federal Police. If you see any suspicious behaviour or persons, vehicles or items, report them to 131 AFP (237). 

Hints and tips 

  • Download our free Sydney Airport app for iPhone or Android to receive real-time flight arrival and departure updates while you’re watching planes 
  • Check out flight arrival and departure information on our website 

Useful information 


Sydney Airport has three runways: 

  • 16R/34L – Main north south runway (3,962 metres) 
  • 16L/34R – Parallel north south runway (2,438 metres) 
  • 07/25 – East west runway (2,530 metres)  

All runways are 45m wide, however only the main and east-west runways can accept the largest aircraft at Sydney, the A380. 

The third runway can accept all other aircraft types that frequent Sydney. Only Runway 16R/34L has centreline lighting. 

Runways 16L and 16R/34L have High Intensity Approach Lighting.

The parallel runways are 1037 metres apart. 

There is a six-metre difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points of the main runway 16R/34L. 


At nearly four kilometres long, Taxiway Alpha is the longest taxiway on the airport and is the primary taxiway on the western side of the main runway, servicing the international terminal and full length departures off Runway 34L.  

For noise abatement purposes, all jet aircraft must use the full length of Runway 34L for departure. 

Taxiways Bravo and Charlie are the two main north/south taxiways on the domestic side of the airport and also provide access to the third runway precinct. 

Taxiway Tango is the primary taxiway serving the third runway. 

Taxiway Golf runs the full length of Runway 07/25 and is the primary taxiway servicing that runway. 

Aircraft registration 

Each aircraft is allocated a unique registration code similar to a licence plates for a motor vehicle. There are websites to track the historic ownership of aircraft when they are bought and sold by airlines. All Australian aircraft (Qantas Airways, Virgin Australia, Jetstar Airways and Regional Express) have the registration VH, followed by three letters. Some airlines add an identification mark to their aircraft to identify them within the fleet. These can be represented in numeric or alphabetical form.

Location information

  • Latitude / Longitude: -33.946111 / 151.177222 
  • Elevation: 21 feet 
  • Distance from city: Eight kilometres 
  • Time zone: standard time GMT + 10; daylight saving GMT + 11 
  • Postcode: 2020 

Did you know? 

The taxi from Qantas Bay 1 to the Taxiway Tango-6 holding point is 5.1km, which may be the longest domestic taxi route in Australia. 

All taxiway entry points with runways at Sydney Airport have red stop bar lights as an additional safety measure to help prevent runway incursions by aircraft and vehicles. 

An upgraded High Intensity Approach Lighting System was installed in 2013 on Runway 16R/34L and Sydney Airport received certification for Cat II landings from the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority in 2014.

Contact us 

We welcome your suggestions and ideas, contact us at yssy.planespotter@syd.com.au.