Thanks to Sydney Airport being involved in NSW Kids in Need charity they have given the public the rare opportunity for a behind the scenes, airside tour of Sydney Airport. The weather was beautiful and 100 eager people waited in T2 at gate 47 to get on the buses to begin the tour. A big thankyou must go out to all the volunteers and business who made today possible. Also a big thankyou to our tour guide on bus #2, Sally Fielke.
Before you read on, the NSW Kids in Need charity is a fantastic organisation raising much needed money for children in NSW. If you’re able to donate please visit their site here. Donations are tax deductible.
I appologise in advance that some of the photos have some reflection from the bus window which often caught the sun and wasn’t entirely clean.
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The tour started from T2 and worked around towards T3 and the Qantas Hangers. This was a great opportunity to see inside the Qantas Maintenance Hangers and as luck would have it they were working on one of the engines on an A380. Along the way were a number of different aircraft including a Virgin Australia ATR72-600, Tigerair and Jetstar A320s and a Jetstar A321. Once we got closer to Qantas there were Boeing 737s, Airbus A330s and many Bombardier Dash 8s to see. In the hangers was an A380 and a 747.
We then headed towards the Freight Terminal which was quite empty of planes except for a lone QantasFreight Boeing 767 parked at it’s stand. There was plenty of freight to see although I suspect most of the containers were empty. We were also lucky enough to get up close to a Qantas A380 which was taxiing towards the start of Runway 16R to takeoff.
The T1 International Terminal is where the big planes live. Here were a number of Boeing 777s, Boeing 747s, Airbus A330 and Airbus A380s as well as a couple of smaller aircraft which are used for short haul international trips (New Zealand, Bali etc).
While stopped alongside T1 we were able to watch the Qantas A380 taking off, a Scoot 787-9 Dreamliner Taxiing and a China Eastern Airlines A330 landing with a special livery “Eastday”, never before seen in Sydney. Sadly I cut off the nose of the plane trying to get a shot in.
You can see a great video by Grahame Hutchison of the China Eastern plane landing below.
We then drove east towards the remote stands and the taxiway Alpha crossing over General Holmes Drive. Most people only ever see up from their cars, not down from a bus.
The remote stands were relatively empty except for a couple 787 Dreamliners, one Jetstar, the other ANA. Unfortunately the ANA was only a standard livery not one of the Star Wars themed liveries which often visit Sydney. A little further along with the Thai Airways 747-400 which is a beautiful plane but might soon stop flying to Sydney to be replaced by a smaller, newer plane. Enjoy it while it lasts..
We then made our way down the full length of taxiway Alpha and crossed over the start of runway 34L. Along the way we saw a few planes taking off so the slow drive down the taxiway was worth while. We then headed around towards Fire Station One and Runway 16L/34R.
Fun fact: Taxiway Alpha is almost 4km long and is by far the longest taxiway at Sydney Airport. The length of Runway 16R/34L is 3962 meters long.
Once we arrived at Fire Station One we were all able to exit the buses with a great view of Runway 16L/34R. We even got to see some planes landing and taxiing.
And finally on to the fire station where we were able to get up close and personal with the fire appliances (the official name for fire trucks).
The awesome team then gave us a demonstration of their services a little way around the corner from the fire station. The video shows how quick the team are to respond and extinguish and this training is done regularly so you can rest assured they are always ready if disaster strikes.
Finally we headed around the airport perimeter, past the helicopter landing site, past the corporate jets and air ambulances, past Regional Express (REX) and eventually back to the terminal where we disembarked from the bus and went on our ways.
As an added bonus to this post, Channel 7 News were reporting on Bus #2 and you can watch their report on Facebook here. Unfortunately they haven’t uploaded the video to Youtube so I can’t embed it.
If you’re interested in doing some plane spotting at Sydney Airport, you can read my guide here which will tell you the best places to go to see the planes.
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