Spotting Report: Saudia Cargo 777 and Yakutia SSJ at Tokyo Narita

Spotting Report: Tokyo Narita, Japan (March 3, 2017)

Even though my flight to Detroit was departing at 5:45PM, since I was awake from early in the morning, I decided to head to Narita long before the flight and spend the day before my flight there.

Morning Session: Terminal 1 Observation Deck

I arrived at the airport around 8:30AM, and headed straight to the observation deck of Terminal 1 which offers decent views of runway 16R/34L as well as some taxiways and parking spots.

The first aircraft I caught was a Boeing 747-8 of NCA Nippon Cargo Airlines arriving from Anchorage as flight KZ159.

Then, FedEx Boeing 777 from Memphis, Swiss Airbus A340-300 from Zurich, and Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 from Guam arrived one after another.

NCA 748

Nippon Cargo Airlines Boeing 747-8.
FedEx 777

FedEx Boeing 777.
Swiss A340

Swiss Airbus A340-300.
Delta 757

Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200.

At that point, one of the enthusiasts on the deck approached another one and said “it’s pushing back!” I had no idea what aircraft he was talking about until a couple of minutes later, Saudia Cargo Boeing 777 emerged from behind the terminal satellite.

The aircraft was visiting Tokyo in relation to an upcoming visit to Japan by the King of Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, it was impossible to get a clean shot of the aircraft, but I was still glad to see it. And I am even more looking forward to hopefully seeing the Saudi Jumbos shortly!

Saudia Cargo 777

Saudia Cargo Boeing 777.

The last movement I spotted from the terrace was a FedEx Boeing 767-300 arriving from Guangzhou. After that, I stored my suitcase in a coin locker, and headed to the arrival floors to catch a bus to the Museum of Aeronautical Science that is located near the airport.

Terminal 1 Observation Deck

Overview of the Terminal 1 observation deck.
FedEx 767

FedEx Boeing 767-300.

Afternoon Session: Hikoki-no-Oka Park

After spending an hour in the museum which will be covered in detail in a separate post, I walked out of the museum, turned left, and headed straight. About ten minutes later, I arrived in Hikoki-no-Oka Park, one of the many parks around the airport offering great views of aircraft.

From here, activity on runway 34L can be seen from up close. Due to the fence, it is not possible to get clear photos of departing aircraft, but the spot is ideal for approach shots. The light is behind your back from around 11:30AM.

Unfortunately, for about an hour and a half, all aircraft were landing on runway 34R – in the distance. Then, a miracle happened, and an ANA Cargo 767 landed on 34L, right in front of me.


The spot offers restricted views of movements on the ground.
ANA Cargo 767

First aircraft approaching runway 34L – an ANA Cargo 767-300.

A fifteen minute pause followed before another ANA Cargo 767 and a JAL 737 landed on 34L one after another. With the slow traffic, I was considering catching the 1:10PM bus back to the terminal. However, there was a Yakutia SSJ scheduled to arrive at 1:50PM – just on time for me to catch the 2:10PM bus back to terminal.

Another 30 minutes of silence later, an ANA 787 arrived, followed by another 767, this time in passenger version. At that time, some clouds started rolling in, and so the next aircraft of the same type and operator was not lit by the sun.

As the Yakutia Sukhoi was getting closer and closer, intervals of sun and clouds started altering faster and faster. It was becoming a lottery.

Before the highlight of the afternoon, a Singapore Airlines 777-300 landed.

ANA 767

An ANA 767 approaching runway 34L.
ANA 787

ANA Boeing 787-8.
Singapore Airlines 777-300

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300.

Then, at 1:45PM, the Sukhoi Superjet appeared in front of me. And luckily, the sun was out. In fact, it got out just 30 seconds before the aircraft came.

Yakutia SSJ

Yakutia Sukhoi SSJ approaching runway 34L.

With the target photographed, I packed my bag, and got on my way. When I opened Flight Radar, I realized that Xiamen Airlines 737 was two minutes out. As such, I quickly got the camera out, took a photo and packed it back.


A fellow spotter taking a photo of the Xiamen Airlines 737.
Xiamen Airlines 737-800

Xiamen Airlines Boeing 737-800 approaching runway 34L.

At exactly the same time, my 1:50PM alarm rung – meaning I had to walk back to the museum to catch the bus back to the terminal to catch the flight with Delta Airlines 747 to Detroit!

3 thoughts on “Spotting Report: Saudia Cargo 777 and Yakutia SSJ at Tokyo Narita”

  1. Thank you so much for this very clear report esp. with buses as I want to visit that museum next month and get some landing shots from the Hikoki-no-Oka Park. I see these locals with step ladders. Do you need a step ladder to prevent the fences or is it just to be ‘higher’?

    1. Hi Anton,

      Thank you for your nice comment.

      You won’t need ladder at this spot (mine were taken without). It might only be useful if you want to take shots of aircraft on the ground, but in that case you will be getting the fence in your shot ladder or no ladder.

      Hope this helps – let me know if you have any other questions.

      You might also want to check this article if you haven’t done so yet:

      Enjoy your stay in Japan!

      Best regards,

      1. Thanks again Keishi, Excellent reports. I especially liked the Chofu report. Maybe I have time for a quick visit there as well. I look forward to come next week (planning Narita March 4)
        best regards,

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