This page is designed to give a quick guide on some of the locations for photographing aircraft at different airports in Europe.

As many aviation enthusiasts know, since the terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001, very many official viewing locations were closed down and some people look upon aircraft enthusiasts with suspicion. Photographing aircraft is not illegal, but there are places where it is allowed and those where it is forbidden, for example, BAA does not allow photography inside the airport. Always observe signs and notices, I recommend carrying some form of ID.

Some Airport Police, such as London Stansted, operate Plane Watch Schemes. If you are a regular to one of the airports it's worth checking if such a scheme exists and apply for the ID badge.

Note that in large part, the locations listed are not official viewing areas and you are reminded to abide by all laws and common sense when it comes to visiting these places. I would always suggest keeping well back from fences, do not trespass on private land, and politely follow any requests or demands by those in authority.




London's third largest airport is Stansted. There is currently no official viewing area, and videoing and photography are very difficult due to the very high fences. However, as Stansted is my local airport, I have little option but to persevere with trying to get the best results that I can.

Stansted has one runway, north facing 04 and south facing 22. (Oct 09 these were changed from 05/23 due to change in Earth's magnetic poles) Aircraft usually takeoff and land on runway 22 as the approach is over fields.

Stansted is home to the ubiquitous Ryanair and EasyJet. As a result of this high concentration of low cost flights, the number of airlines at Stansted is quite limited, although there has been some expansion over the recent past to include new start-up Cobalt, a transfer of service from Luton by Atlas Global, the start of services by British Airways Cityflyer at weekends and the news of up to 7 aircraft for a new base by Jet2 in summer 2017.

Stansted Airport Plane Watch Scheme is operated by Essex Police details of how to apply can be found at

or by writing to
Airport Plane Watch Scheme
Enterprise House
Bassingborn Road
Stansted Airport Essex Police
CM24 1PS



Currently Operating

Stopped operating

  • Ryanair
  • EasyJet
  • Aurigny
  • Air Moldova
  • Atlas Global
  • British Airways Cityflyer (weekends)
  • Cobalt Air
  • Eurowings
  • Flybe (Summer)
  • Germanwings
  • (Mar 17)
  • Loganair
  • Pegasus
  • Thomas Cook
  • Thomson (TUI)
  • Titan Airways


  • Atlas Air
  • China Southern
  • FedEX
  • Panalpina
  • Qatar Cargo
  • TNT
  • Swiftair
  • UPS
  • West Atlantic
  • Western Global
  • Swiftair
  • Aegean (xfer  LHR)
  • American (May 08 xfer to LHR)
  • Air Malta (xfer LGW)
  • Air Italy (route closed)
  • Blue1 (xfer LHR)
  • Blue Air (xfer LTN)
  • CSA (route closed all UK routes since curtailed)
  • Centralwings (ceased trading)
  • EL-AL (Xfer LTN)
  • EOS (Apr 08 Airline failed)
  • FlyGlobeSpan (Network retrenched to Scotland ceased ops Dec 09)
  • MaxJet (Dec 07 Airline failed)
  • Norwegian (xfer LGW)
  • Eastern Airways (route closed)
  • Star1 (ceased ops)
  • Sky Europe (xfer LTN ceased ops)
  • Wizz Air (xfer LTN)
  • Transavia (xfer LTN)
  • Air Berlin
  • Air Berlin
  • Iceland Expres
  • Turkissh
  • Global Supply
  Viewing Areas

The first thing to note is that there is nowhere from within the terminal building to view aircraft unless you are airside. There used to be an OK area adjacent to the terminal building but I would not recommend now, as so many new security features are in place.

To get to the main viewing areas you will need a car, or be willing to walk a fair distance. Stansted Airport is surrounded by public footpaths and rights of way, however aside from a few places, parking isn't particularly easy.

The main viewing are is the road past the village of BURTON END, which provides views alongside the runway. Alternatively at the end of Runway 22, known as the "Jam Factory" which gives views of aircraft directly overhead. Viewing at the end of Runway 04 is less easy as there is nowhere to park. Parking anywhere causing an obstruction will result in police/security moving you on.

There are no refreshments or toilet facilities at any of the locations. Also because the locations are fairly windy, I suggest taking suncream even in lowish temperatures to avoid burning.

  Getting There - Along the runway side on views  
  The easiest way is to use the M11 motorway, either from the North from Cambridge or from London to the south. Using the main slip road follow the signs to the airport, once off the motorway head in the direction of the Long Term Parking (This is very close to the airport Hilton Hotel).

At the mini roundabout adjacent to the long term car park carry straight on you will be travelling on the Round Coppice Road. This is a long winding road that takes you around the perimeter of the airport as you go around a relatively sharp bend you will see an entrance on your left hand side, this is the airport's business aviation area. Carrying on the main road the name changes to Bury Lodge Lane simply follow this lane all the way round until you reach Burton End village. Please slow down through the village! Carry on past The Ash Pub, and you will reach a VERY VERY sharp bend, please do take care here. Continue a little further until you reach a straight road called Belmer Road. You will see cars parked along the road, this area is a nature reserve and public right of way.

Park up along the road and there are a number of small cut ins through the small wooded areas and you will be at the side of the runway. Police and security frequently drive past these areas and therefore do not be surprised if you are asked your intentions, on occasion they may do a vehicle/name check just to make sure you are who you say you are. Police here are very tolerant and know that genuine enthusiasts are extra eyes and ears.

For maps and additional information I would suggest this excellent resource

You will need a ladder to be high enough to see over the fence. As always you must stay well back from the fences. Alternatively you can walk along the length of the runway and may find suitable vantage points.




© David Hynes    

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