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East Midlands Airport

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Continent: Europe Country: United Kingdom Region: England
East Midlands Airport
Location Derby, England
Airport type Commercial
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 124.00
Ground 121.90
Clearance n/a
Approach 134.175
ATIS 128.225
Plane Spotting Hotels guide

Official Spotting Locations


The only official location is the Aeropark. It is located to the north-west of the airport and has a number of preserved aircraft on display. Drive past the airport on the A453 with the entrance on your right. You will come to a roundabout. Continue straight ahead, then turn right at the traffic lights. You will pass Donington Park on your left, then continue through the 09 approach lights. You will then come to another roundabout. Take the second exit, the Aeropark is straight ahead.

There is a mound that lifts you above the fence to view arrivals on 09, however you are south facing so into sun. There is also an admission fee to the Aeropark.

Other Spotting Locations

Runway 09 end

Diseworth Lane

By far the most popular location to view aircraft. This spot offers good views of arrivals on runway 09, as well as an overview of the DHL ramp and main apron. Departures from 27 are normally airborne by the time they reach this spot. Landings on 27 normally turn off just before so you can read them off. You are facing into sun however so photography isn't great.

Drive along the A453 with the entrance to the airport on your right. You will come to a roundabout - continue straight on. At the traffic lights turn right towards Castle Donington. You will follow the road through the approach lights to a roundabout with the Aeropark ahead. Turn left and proceed down the hill. After approx. 500 yards there is a pub on the right. At the side of the pub is Diseworth Lane. Drive along this road and you will come to a crash gate. There are normally cars parked either side at the end so you know you're in the right place.

End of runway 09

There are several gateways situated on the road at the end of runway 09, near the approach lights. These are good for photographs of arrivals on runway 09, and a good view straight down the runway for nose on shots of heavy departures. Please do not block the gates as they are access to fields.

DHL Ramp

By parking in one of the locations just to the south of the approach path, you can park and cross the road and into some bushes. Behind these is a mound with a great view over the DHL apron, where you can see all DHL activity, plus Antonovs and the like which usually park on this apron.

Runway 27 end

From the Moto service station, take the A453 towards Nottingham. You will head down the dual carriageway and through the approach lights of runway 27. Immediately after the approach lights there is a turning on the left. Take this turning and you will come to a crash gate with parking.

From here you can stay here (although you are into sun and quite a distance away), or head to one of two spots at the 27 end.

The Mound

Walk back towards the A453, shortly before the hedge there is a stile on your right. Cross this and walk along the footpath, keeping to the airport fence. Leave the footpath and follow the fence alongside the runway. You will come to a mound. This mound offers good views of landings and departures from runway 27. It is a good angle for photography of arrivals, and departures hold short right in front of you. With a set of steps you are above fence height.

Warning - although this is great for photography, security are sometimes a little keen here. If you are asked to move on do so immediately. If you don't move when asked they will send the police around to move you on forcefully. Please don't jeapordise viewing opportunities even further by ignoring them or getting defensive.


Leave your car parked and walk back to the A453. Turn right back towards the approach lights, and climb the bank. Walk through the approach lights onto the old disused road. You can get great landing shots on runway 27 here, but you can't see anything else as there is a huge hedge between you and the airport.

Generic Viewing

North Side Crash Gate

Great location for action shots of aircraft rotating, or just touching down. You are directly opposite the terminal so can get some great action shots here, however you are into sun for most of the day. In the evenings this spot is ideal as the sun is behind you or to your right. In 10 years I have never once been moved on from this location, a lot more than can be said for most of the other locations on the airport.

Drive into Castle Donington, then take the hairpin right turn onto The Hollow. Drive along here and out into the countryside until you come to a left hand bend, and a sign welcoming you to Hemington. Turn right here and follow it down. Eventually it turns into a single track road, pull up in the entrances to one of the fields (being careful not to block the entrances or the road). Then walk the last few hundred yards up the hill, you will see the Radar at the top of the hill. Go through the gate and there is a crash gate. With steps you can shoot over the fence or even through the fence/gate. You can also walk along the fence to get a good angle.

Please note you must not block this road as it leads to the crash gate and needs to be kept clear. I have heard stories of the Fire Brigade physically moving cars that are in their way here so park at your own risk. You cannot park right at the top without blocking the road, so find somewhere further down the hill where you do not block the road, then walk the rest.

Maintenance Area

From the terminal, take the road towards the maintenance area. At the mini roundabout turn left, there are a couple of places along here for quick snaps of anything on maintenance.

The first is just before you get to the fuel tanks, pull into this car park for a great close up of an AN-22/24, or sometimes other aircraft that park there. Be very quick however, this is a private car park.

Carry on until the T junction and turn right. As the road bends to the right, there is a car park on the left. Park here and walk to the right of the portakabins, excellent views of BMI's hangars, where you can see inside when the doors are open. Often good bizjet activity parked here. Carry on again, you will pass the air ambulance on the left which you can shoot through the gates, and also see across the the washpans where the Antonov turboprops usually park.

All of the maintenance locations are best for just taking a quick shot and leaving immediately, security regularly patrol this area and will move you on. In any case, once you have your shot of the aircraft around here there is nothing more to see anyway really.

Locations to Avoid


There are no longer any viewing facilities landside in the terminal. There is a gallery after security, although no use for non-passengers.

Regular Traffic


90% easyJet A319s, Ryanair B737-800s and bmibaby 737s. After that, there are the usual UK charters, for example Thomson 757s, First Choice A321s etc.


East Midlands is the UK's largest freight operation. DHL have a base here on the western apron, containing DHL (European Air Transport/DHL Air) 757s and DHL (European Air Transport) A300s. There is a nightly Lufthansa Cargo MD11, and a weekly Kalitta Air 747 on a Saturday.

There are daily UPS 767s and Maersk Air 767s that utilise the eastern apron.

There are two Antonov AN-12s based at the airport, operating ad-hoc charters.

The airport sees regular heavy cargo flights for local company Rolls Royce. AN-124s are a common sight (several times a week) transporting engines to Toulouse.

Facilities and Transportation

There are scheduled coach links to Derby, Long Eaton, Loughborough and Nottingham Stations, plus a more frequent shuttle-bus service to the recently opened East Midlands Parkway Station on the Midland Main Line.

National Express offer some long distance coach services at lower frequencies. If travelling by coach, you might save money by booking online before the date of travel, particularly if you can print a ticket at home.

External Links

Forum for East Midlands Airport For EMA spotters and aviation enthusiasts as well as aviation professionals. Forums4airports is idea for those spotters and enthusiasts who want to engage in discussion about all aspects of the airport and for those who want to find out what's happening at other airports locally.