HALIFAX STANFIELD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
ICAO Code: CYHZ      IATA Code: YHZ

None of the information included here is intended for use for navigational purposes, and should be regarded as completely unofficial and subject to correction.

Last updated December 15, 2019

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Stanfield Frequencies  (For Shearwater click here)

ATC (Nav Canada) Ground Support Airline Ops

121.0 Halifax ATIS
123.95 Hfx Clearance Delivery
121.9 Hfx Ground Control
118.4 Hfx Tower   
 119.2 Terminal
118.7 Terminal VFR
128.55 Arrival (rarely used) 

 133.95 Moncton Ctr hi-level (Hfx xmtr)
135.3 Moncton Ctr lo-level (Hfx xmtr)

123.275 Halifax Rsdio129.25

 

129.1 Gateway FBO 
123.4 Shell Innotech FBO
129.3 Esso Avitat FBO

129.25 Chorus Aviation De Ice (Air Canada family) 
122.35 Swissport De Ice (Westjet)
122.95 Inland Tech De Ice (Porter, Fedex) 
 

Airlines shown are the main users.
Others to be determined, keeping in mind
that contracts can change

Small aircraft are de-iced at FBO's.

130.8 Air Canada Ops
130.175 Air Canada STOC
130.375 Air Canada LOAD
128.9 Jazz Ops
129.375 Jazz Maintenance
131.275 Westjet Ops
130.65 Swissport (United/Transat)
129.475 Strategic Aviation
(Sunwing & Flair)
131.925 Morningstar (Fedex)
131.875 Cargojet
130.075 Air St Pierre Ops
129.3 Esso (PAL/Provincial)
Note that 122.125 was for a relatively brief period used as Ramp Unicom, and is still occasionally seen listed, and attempted to be used by unknowing pilots.   This was used by pilots to essentially communicate amongst each other to coordinate movements on the ramp, with no input from the Ground Controller.  Apparently it was found to be of little usefulness or perhaps even detrimental, and was discontinued.

  

General outline of the Aero Scene in the Halifax area and the Maritimes.

 

Stanfield: General Description and Background

See also the Wikipedia article re Halifax Airport 

These are some personal notes about Stanfield, by far the busiest Canadian airport east of Montreal.   It is not my intention to present any sort of detailed history or description.   Click here for the Wikipedia article that will tell you more.  Suffice to say that it was opened in 1960 and replaced commercial service operating at the Shearwater military airfield.  Before the use of Shearwater there had been a civil airfield in the west end of Halifax alongside Chebucto Road, which is commemorated by a winged sculpture easily seen from the street. Note that the airport was built at its Kelly Lake location due to a perception that it would be less foggy than the Shearwater airport, but time has shown that Halifax airport has considerable number of days with enough fog to make landing difficult if  not impossible.

Stanfield is variously known also as YHZ (its IATA designation), CYHZ (its ICAO designation), Halifax International, or for those of us who live in the area, simply as "the airport".   It was built by the federal government on land originally purchased by the City of Halifax.  It opened in 1960, and is still owned by the federal Transport Canada.    The airport as a whole is operated by the Halifax International Airport Authority, which functions as a non-profit business.  While the airport was named in honour of Robert Stanfield back in 2007, I am not sure that his name is part of the official title of the Authority.   The air traffic control services at the airport are provided by Nav Canada. 

Stanfield apparently has a positive rating from travellers, or rather, it has received several awards from organizations that rank airports. Here is a site with an unusual perspective re airport terminals: Sleeping in Airports A fascinating guide to sleeping in airports overnight between flights. Yes, Halifax is in here!

 

STANFIELD LAYOUT

 

The airport runways are laid out in a T arrangement as clearly shown in the 2019 photo above.  There are two runways, the longer primary Runway 05/23 and the perpendicular crosswind Runway 14/32.  The longer runway is 10,500 feet long, whereas the secondary runway is 7700 feet in length.  Note that in Canada runway dimensions are still stated in feet rather than metric measures.  Note that over time the numbers used for runways do change, as the Magnetic Pole moves. For example, Runways 05/23 & 14/32 uswed to be 06/24 & 15/33.  See my page on this topic.

A recent study by Nav Canada yielded a comparative set of statistics regarding the relative amount of use each of the runways receives.

Currently only Runway 14 and Runway 23 have ILS (Instrument Landing System) which provides both directional and glide path guidance to aircraft.  Runway 05 has a localizer only, which provides direction guidance but not glide path.  Runway 32 has neither.  It is unlikely that ILS will be provided in the future to Runways 05 and 32, as GPS based systems are rapidly displacing older technologies. 

Note that there are parallel taxiways to three runways.  From the ramp Taxiway Alpha, by far the longest, extends to the end of Runway 05 at bottom left.  Taxiway Foxtrot is very short and serves the opposite end of this runway.  Taxiway Delta goes to the end of Runway 32 at the right.  The perhaps unusual situation is that no provision was made for a taxiway to the end of Runway 14 at the top left.  Aircraft requiring the full length of Runway 14 must enter the runway at Taxiway Hotel form the ramp, and then backtrack on the runway to the end and do a 180.

A recent study relating to the establishment of new approach procedures yielded the following very interesting set of statistics:

RELATIVE LEVEL OF USE OF THE 4 RUNWAYS AT STANFIELD

Runway 05  21%

Runway 23  44%

Runway 32  22%

Runway 14  13%

I personally find these results to be quite surprising, as in my own mind it seems as if Runways 14/32 are in use very often, not just the 35% indicated by the statistics.   This may be due to the disappointment factor that comes from going out to the airport and finding it is 14/32 in use, which is to me not nearly as good for observation.

 

OBSERVATION AT STANFIELD

 

There is a group of enthusiasts who observe, listen and photograph comings and goings at Halifax Stanfield.  This Halifax Airport Watch group is sanctioned by the airport authority and indeed was assisted by the authority when it was being established.   Membership in the group requires a criminal records check, as members do carry identification that shows they are part of the wider airport community.  Meetings are held periodically, sometimes with visits to facilities on teh airport.  Members do not have airside access but do enjoy a sense of legitimacy while parked and observing at the airport. 
Click here for the group's facebook page.  Just as in any public facebook page you do not have to be an actual member of the HAW group itself to take part in the facebook page, and your contributions will be welcome.

Yes I am a member of the HAW group but I am only a casual observer at Stanfield. By that I mean that I am not one who makes sure he gets out there to see particular aircraft, and I am not a photographer, other than the occasional amateurish snapshot.   I am sure my professional-level acquaintances who post their wonderful photos at www.airliners.net and other sites have their favourite carefully chosen spots.   My own situation is that I generally visit Stanfield as part of my commute to and from work, and stop in for a few minutes when the weather is suitable.    Note that if you visit airliners.net, you should type in the keyword "CYHZ" in order to bring up photos relating to Halifax Stanfield.

By any standards the prime viewing area is the unofficial parking lot at the side of the Old Guysborough Road.  From here there is a nearly full-length view of Runway 05/23 and for many aircraft is near the touchdown and liftoff point.  There is an issue with the chain link fence obscuring aircraft passing by on the runway but not a major problem for casual observation.   

For activity on Runway 14/32 the main viewing area is also on the Old Gusborough Road, at the approach to Runway 32.   This spot does not allow any view of the runway itself but does have the aircraft on approach to 32 coming almost straight at you and then passing low overhead just before touchdown. Of course you can also see aircraft that have just taken off from 14 but this is much less satisfying due to the steep ascent angle.   Pesonally, I don't bother going here very often as I am more interested in seeing the actual approach, touchdown and taxi, or the opposite, rather than the more limited aspects at this viewing area. 

I am sure there are other areas that you might enjoy.  Such as at the approach end of 05 where it crosses over the Old Guysborough Road. In this regard I prefer to be a little farther out from the end of Runway 05 and favour the large parking lot of the business at 245 Aerotech Drive.       You can observe the opposite direction approaches, to Runway 23, from the Oldham Road.    As for 14/32, you may like the the area along Highway 102 to watch aircraft about to touch down on Runway 14, but this is not a good area from a safety or legal standpoint as it is a busy divided highway.   It might be better to find a spot in the vicinity of the Jazz complex, but I am not certain that there are any really good spots here.   

For myself, in my commute I almost always stop in for at least a few minutes on my way to work (but hardly ever on the return) and mostly I just go the Irving gas station parking lot and take in the action as best as possible, seeing everything at a distance and with much obscured by buildings.  Still, it is better than nothing. 

For taxiing of cargo aircraft and helicopters there is a parking area at the end of Barnes Drive that is immediately adjacent to Taxiway J.   As of the latter part of 2019 a major development of the cargo area off Taxiway J is underway and this has led to perhaps a temporary vista of J, Pad 3, and the end of Runway 05/23.  For now you can stop on Pratt & Whitney Drive near Gateway and have a good ground-level view of these areas, but I fully expect buildings to go up at some point and re-obscure the view.

 

CONTENT OF OLDER PAGE APPEARS BELOW, AND BEING INCORPORATED INTO THIS NEWER VERSION.  FOR NOW BOTH ARE HERE TO ENSURE YOU SEE IT ALL.  SORRY FOR ANY CONFUSION!

Robert L Stanfield International Airport is by far the busiest airport in Atlantic Canada in terms of aircraft movements and in passengers handled.    It is still referred to commonly as Halifax International Airport, as its naming for the former premier of Nova Scotia is relatively recent.    It is referred to also by its IATA designator of YHZ, this being the code or abbreviation appearing on baggage tags, and also by its ICAO designation of CYHZ.   

If you have ever wondered how Halifax got YHZ, which makes no sense, rest assured that most Canadian airport codes do not relate much if at all to the airport name or location, whereas most of those elsewhere in the world do, such as BOS, JFK, LAX, DEN, LHR, CDG...  can you guess those ones? They are all major airports.   Canadian ones like YUL, YYZ have no intuitive relationship to Montreal Trudeau and Toronto Pearson.    That however is a topic for another page, but one in which I am very interested.

Halifax International was opened in 1960.  Prior to that, from 1942, civil air traffic for Halifax utilized the Shearwater military airfield in Eastern Passage.  In the more distant past, there was an airfield in what is now the Chebucto Road area of Halifax that is commemorated by a winged sculpture easily seen in parkland alongside the main road.

In the decades since it was opened, the airport has gone through tremendous physical evolution, and as well its administration has gone through multiple changes.   The airport itself is owned by the federal government (Transport Canada) but it is managed and operated independently by the Halifax International Airport Authority.  It does appear that the public name for the airport is the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, but the Authority name does not as yet include the "Stanfield" appellation.   Note that although the airport in general is operated by HIAA, all of the air traffic control is provided by Nav Canada.    Many commercial firms operate at the airport.   This includes some firms hired directly by HIAA for such things as security services, but many more that provide services to airlines, passengers, employees, etc.    As is noted elsewhere only the terminal and airport service buildings are under the direct control and supervision of HIAA.   Hangars and other buildings supporting airlines, FBO's and other commercial services are private and not directly supervised or secured by HIAA.

This introductory page is intended to give you some very basic pointers on observing aircraft at Stanfield but you must realize that I am not in any way the most expert observer.   I am not a photographer other than an occasional snapshotter, so I have not sought out the very best spots for photos.  I am more the "sit around in the car for awhile and watch planes" kind of guy, and I certainly know where I like to go.    Most importantly it must be realized that I am a radio listener who likes airplanes, so I am always listening to aircraft, whether they be taxiing, taking off, leaving the area, arriving in the area or landing.   This means that I am not interested only in the aircraft itself, I am interested in the various points mentioned on air to which aircraft are directed by the air traffic controllers.   For example if I hear that an aircraft is heading toward LEROS or SPLIT CROW, that matters to me, and means something to me.   My description in this page and in the ones that follow it will include all of that.  

First of all, the airrport consists of two physical runways.  Each of these has two designations, depending on direction of travel.   The longer runway is 05/23.   The shorter runway, sometimes called the crosswind runway, is at right angles to the first and is designated 14/32.   Essentially the runways form a capital letter T.   If you are not familiar with how runways are designated by number or how there can be four runways when in front of you there are clearly only two strips of pavement, then you should go to my runway page.    This will also explain why today's runway 23 at Halifax was just a very few years ago referred to as runway 24.   

This vertical view of Halifax Stanfield International Airport clearly shows the T pattern of of the runways. 

Runway 05/23 is the longer runway and forms the long axis of the T.   Runway 14/32 forms the top of the T.

Note that there are also taxiways extending to the ends of each runway, except for the oddity that there is no taxiway to the end of runway 14 at the top left.   Aircraft taxiing to the end of the runway for a takeoff must taxi on the runway itself and turn around to face the length of runway 14.

You can see clearly that it is possible to use both parts of the T simultaneously as long as paths of the aircraft do not cross, but this simultaneous use is relatively uncommon.

Note the observation areas indicated but there are others that will be favourites for other observers.

 

 

MAIN FREQUENCIES AT A GLANCE

These listed frequencies all relate directly to aircraft and the aero industry.   Actual operations of the airport, including the fire service, are on a 400 MHz MotoTrbo system.  The Halifax Regional Police provide service to the terminal.  They and CBSA use the NS Trunk system, with traffic being encrypted. 
 

For those of you not interested in the descriptions on this page, here are the main frequencies to know if you are listening to aircraft movements at Stanfield.   Those dealing with on-the-ground activities will not be heard much beyond the vicinity of the airport, whereas any that involve aircraft in flight will be listenable for quite some distance, with the aircraft heard at much longer range than the ground side.   More complete descriptions of usage are included farther down this page as are many other frequencies of interest.

121.0 MHz

ATIS .  Automated weather and runway use loop.   Identified by a letter such as "Information Bravo".  The next update would be "Information Charlie" If you can pick this up at a distance, check here to find out ahead of time what runway is being used, and of course to find out what the visibility is like.

123.95 MHz

Clearance Delivery .    Often simulcast with ground control.    In very quiet conditions clearance, ground control and tower might be operated by one controller and therefore simulcast.    This is used to give all or part of the routing of an aircraft.  Sometimes there will be a list of the legs involved, sometimes just a clearance to the destination without giving the details, as that would have been already filed.

122.125 MHz

Ramp advisory  .   Airliners may announce on-ramp movements.  Because no base radio is involved, this will be very short range.   It is strictly cockpit to cockpit.  THIS SERVICE WAS DISCONTINUED AT HALIFAX AIRPORT IN 2014, but even in 2016 some pilots refer to it.

122.35, 129.25 MHz

De-icing coordination, on the main ramp.  This is between the de-icing crew and the cockpit.  Each of these frequencies is a different company providing service.  129.25 is Jazz serving the Air Canada family and possibly others.  122.35 is Servisair serving most others.    (122.85 is discontinued frequency used previously by a third de-icing provider, no longer present)

121.9 MHz

Ground Control  (control of aircraft on taxiways)

118.4 MHz

Tower (control of aircraft on runways and about to land)

119.2, 128.55, 118.7

Departure and Arrival ("Terminal")  (119.2 by far most used).  128.55 is very rarely used.   118.7 is used principally for VFR aircraft, and sometimes for others when 119.2 is down.   At night Halifax Terminal ceases to operate, and the area comes under the control of Moncton Centre, which takes over use of 119.2.

123.9, 132.2, 132.5, 124.3, 124.4, 135.5, 135.65, 135.3

These are the Moncton Centre frequencies for the sectors surrounding Halifax terminal area.  Aircraft leaving the vicinity of Halifax switch to one of these, and conversely will be heard on one of these as they approach Halifax.  123.9 SW Nova Scotia, 132.5 and 124.3 S New Brunswick, 124.4 Moncton area, 135.65 PEI area, 135.3 NE mainland Nova Scotia.  See the map later on this page.  You will NOT hear the ground side of any of these (except 135.3) from around the Halifax area as the transmitters are far away.  For example the transmitter for 123.9 is near Yarmouth.    135.3 is however located near Halifax airport and you will hear both sides of the traffic.  At night time many of these are simulcast so that you can hear much of the region through the local transmitter.

123.4, 129.1, 129.3.
129.475

Fixed base operators (Shell, Gateway (Irving), Esso), serving mostly cargo, charter, itinerant including military visitors.  Itinerant and small airlines might be heard after takeoffs with reports back on weight, uplift, number of passengers etc. 129.475 is Chorus Airport Services, same as Jazz, serving visiting aircraft of other airlines, with at least some services.  

Listed in detail farther down this page.

Most airlines have frequencies to report in needs for servicing, special handling of passengers, post-takeoff reports, etc.  Air Canada has several frequencies.

460.7, with others listed in detail farther down this page

The larger airlines have terminal operations radio systems.  These are used by the ground agents and perhaps others such as maintenance for communications amongst themselves, i.e. not with the aircraft.   As of 2016 it appears that all or most of these have migrated to a MotoTrbo system that is not able to be listened to with a normal scanner.  (some scanners do now have this capability)

 

For upcoming civil landings and departures at Stanfield go to Flightaware

Aerial photo of Halifax Stanfield International (CYHZ) taken Sept 28, 2011 by Michael Durling (used by permission).  Michael is a premiere local aircraft photographer. For professional grade photos of aircraft landing and departing Halifax, go to  www.airliners.net   and search for CYHZ.  You will be rewarded by great shots by Michael, Barry Shipley and others.  This website is worldwide.. you can search by airport or by aircraft type. (Note that the website is vast and may be slow loading for you)

In this view runway 05/23 extends across the photo as the more or less left to right bottom of a T arrangement.  Runway 14/32 is the top of the T, and exends towards the right side of the picture.

As of 2013 this photo is obsolescent, as Runway 05/23 is now extended.  On the left it now takes up practically all the cleared area showing here to be beyond the end of the runway, and on the other end extends a short distance into that cleared area at the top of the "T".

  Highway 102 is prominent at the left of the photo. Enfield is shown in the upper  background.

 

 

 

SO LET'S ASSUME YOU ARE INTERESTED IN WATCHING AIRCRAFT AT STANFIELD BUT ALSO WANT TO LISTEN TO THEM.  

 

1. KNOWING WHAT FLIGHTS WILL BE LANDING AND TAKING OFF

I use two main public sources.   One is the airport's website intended for the travelling public.   I use the url  www.hiaa.ca  (the airport uses other url's as well, but they all come to the same page).   At that site one of the sections is Today's Flights.     You click on either Arrivals or Departures and this will bring up a screen of upcoming activity.      For an airport listener and observer the main caveat is that these lists only include aircraft that use the main terminal.   They do not include cargo aircraft, military flights or itinerant flights, all of which use other facilities at the airport.     Also the flights are designated by the airline name or code of the top level airline that provides the flight.   For example Flight 3707 indicated as being US Airways is not actually a US Airways aircraft, rather it is an Air Wisconsin airplane operated for US Airways.     Finally, these lists do not tell you what make and model of aircraft is being used.      On the other hand the lists are a good indicator that a flight is early, late or cancelled, and they tell you what gate an aircraft will be coming from or going to, something that certainly can make a difference in your viewing, especially if you go to the observation area within the terminal.

The source I use the most is flightaware.   Go to www.flightaware.com     This is a wonderful site where you have the option of choosing practically any airport in North America, and some other areas, and seeing what has happened and what is expected to happen in terms of aircraft movements.   You can also follow various airlines and check the status, present and past, of particular airline flights.   Want to know the dates and times of Air Canada flight 1108 for the past 6 months, or of right now, that is easy.      Whenever I am planning to be near the airport I go to flightaware and bring up and print the list of upcoming departures and arrivals, and take that with me.    The good thing about flightaware is that it covers all civil traffic in and out of Halifax (or wherever) and not just the flights using the main terminal.  It also indicates the aircraft type, and as well lists the flights by their actual operator's code.    If you intend to use FlightAware very often you really should register.   This gets you two advantages.   First of all the lists of aircraft movements will appear in our local time zone format.   Secondly a registered user can see longer lists on a page.   By the way I almost always want to see aircraft movements at Halifax so I bookmark the search for CYHZ and then navigate away from that base point if I want.  FlightAware is something you really need to get into and see where it can lead you.    Having said that, I should warn you that things are not necessarily 100% complete or accurate.   Recently I printed out in the morning a list of movements for that afternoon, but on arrival I watched a Sunwing 737 leaving for the sunny south.  That flight was obviously scheduled long before but was not on my printed list.   When I got home it had been inserted, so always keep in mind some errors might occur.   And of course s*** happens and aircraft occasionally get diverted.   These will show in flightaware but perhaps not very long before that rare bird shows up and lands.   

The main omission of both these sites is that military flights are not shown, and I do not know of anywhere you can obtain that information.   If you are at or near the airport you might hear radio traffic between incoming military flights and the facility on the ground they will be using for parking and/or fueling.   Check the FBO frequencies 123.4, 129.1 and 129.3 for this type of communications.    This can happen somewhat before the aircraft are checking in with air traffic control so you might at least get a heads up.   If you had a "friend" at each of the FBO's to let you know a day or two ahead of time of what's coming in, you would be way ahead of the game.    Most US flights go to Esso Avitat (129.3), and British to Shell (123.4) but don't take that as "for sure".  There is a section on the FBO's farther down this page.

 

2. WATCHING WHAT YOU ARE HEARING

I think I would be safe in saying that most scanner listeners who have any interest at all in listening to aircraft and activities at the airport are those who also like actually watching aircraft!.  This is different from those who like to listen to public service agencies, who usually don't care about what kind of car or truck the particular radio is on, but rather what they are doing.  I know there are exceptions, but I stand by these assumptions.    So with that in mind I would first like to point out the best places to watch aircraft movements at Stanfield.

First of all keep in mind that CYHZ has two runways and aircraft may be approaching or leaving these runways in either direction.  

The busiest runway is 23 followed closely by 32.    Third busiest is 05, with 14 being significantly farther back in usage.  

The airport is basically surrounded by Highway 102 to the west, the Old Guysborough Road (Highway 212) to the south and east, and the Oldham Rd to the northeast.   This is a sort of triangle but the connections to each other are via shorter connecting roads with other names.   Only the OGR and Oldham Rd directly connect with each other.   To access the OGR from Highway 102 exit the main highway at Exit 6A onto Aerotech Drive and a very short stretch on Pratt & Whitney Drive.   It is also possible to get to OGR from the airport terminal area by using Pratt & Whitney then a left onto Grove Road.    To get to Oldham Rd from Highway 102 it is necessary to exit at Exit 7 (Enfield) and just past the Irving Big Stop, make a right onto Oldham Rd.   It is quite a distance to the viewing area from here so I hardly ever go this way.  I prefer to use the OGR to get to the other end of the Oldham Rd but that is because I am usually approaching the airport from the south.

For 05/23 the best spot is the well-used Old Guysborough Road parking spot, which lies alongside the runway with good views to the left and right.  This spot is seen in the photo below.  Follow upwards the straight road that parallels 05/23 and just as it begins to bend to the right slightly you will see the light colour of the small parking lot.   It is closer to the south end and therefore is best for movements using 05, which is the south to north direction use of this runway.   For takeoffs you will see the aircraft taxiing along right to left on Taxiway Alpha and then lining up on the runway and then taking off right in front of you, with the actual takeoff (wheels leaving runway) happening in most cases somewhat to your right.     For aircraft landing on 05 you will be able to see them slowly approaching and descending for quite some distance depending on the cloud cover, and in most cases touching down slightly to your left and rolling out to your right.     These two movements are the best for observation and photography.   I am not particularly a photographer but I do realize some of this depends not only on the position of the sun but also on what you want to see.   Having said this, it is quite common to see the pro's there at the OGR.      When the wind conditions dictate the aircraft may be using the opposite direction of this runway, 23, and things are a bit different.   In good conditions you can see the approach which will be way over to your right, and the touchdown will be still well to your right.    Smaller aircraft such as the earlier models of the Dash 8 often will be slowed enough to exit the runway prior to reaching your vantage point but virtually all jets and most likely the Q400 Dash 8 will continue right down in front of you and will be moving quite slowly by the time they reach the exit in Taxiway Charlie just slightly to your left.    Some smaller aircraft whose destination on the ground is near this end of the airport will continue as well down the runway right to left to Charlie, even though they could have exited sooner.   The controllers will allow them to do this when there is no one right behind them to land.  Very rarely an aircraft will roll out all the way to the end of Runway 23 and exit onto Alpha.  For takeoffs from 23 the aircraft will start off way off to the right, usually at the intersection of 05/23 and 14/32, and most often they will have left the ground by the time they reach your parking spot, and will be in a steep climb.  If the cloud cover is low they will have disappeared right after passing you, so in effect your close up view will be fleeting.    Occasionally aircraft line up on 23 from Taxiway Echo, and small aircraft often will commence from Delta.

 

 

Other spots for viewing 05/23 are at the ends of the runway.    The OGR crosses the runway path at the south end, just off the bottom of the image above  The Oldham Road crosses the north end but much farther from the runway end. It is best seen in the image below.  If you like having aircraft passing right above you then these are the places for you, but you really do not see much for very long.   The Oldham Road end may be better as you are slightly elevated and can see right along the cleared swath that is sort of the extension to the runway, so if an aircraft is landing on 23 you will have some view of it approaching from the north on final, and then can turn around and see it for a good few seconds as it continues along to touchdown.  On takeoff from 05 you will not see so much as the aircraft will have left the ground perhaps a kilometre away from you and be quite high up by the time it reaches your point.  I should point out that you cannot really see anything much of the airport itself from Oldham Road, and nothing at all of it from the OGR crossover point.

 

In the photo above, the point where the Oldham Road crosses the extension of runway 05/23 is at top centre.  You will see immediately that it is quite some distance up from the runway itself but it does allow you to see aircraft pass overhead and head away from you toward touchdown on Runway 23, and vice versa for takeoffs from 05. 

If runway 14/32 is being used you are not so lucky.    I hardly even bother when this runway is in use.    It is quite distant from the main viewing area on the OGR and much of it is obscured by trees and buildings.  In the photo above it appears that the runway would be spread out in front of you from the Oldham Road but unfortunately the runway is higher than the road and there is intervening forest, so that road is of no use.  Basically, unless you want to work at it, you are left with going to the ends of the runway.    The OGR crosses the path of 14/32 very near to the eastern end. (seen at bottom centre in the photo above).   Like the other OGR crossover mentioned above, you can't actually see the runway so that all you can see is the aircraft passing above you.    For approaches to 32 there is some limited view of the slowly approaching and descending aircraft.      At the other end it is the main highway, Highway 102, that crosses the path.   I have never stopped here and I have never seen anyone else do so.   I am not sure if it illegal to stop, or just seems strange, or not really worth it.   In good conditions you can see some approaches but for this it would be better to stop farther north, closer to the Enfield exit, and get a more side-on view of this.

What about actually going onto the airport property?    There are no really good areas on the airport property for observation, unless you are able to go the airside at one of the private hangars.   

NOTE THAT THE PARKING LOTS ALONG BARNES DRIVE ADJACENT TO THE HANGARS AND FBO'S ARE CONSIDERED TO BE PRIVATE PROPERTY.  YOU MAY BE APPROACHED BY PRIVATE SECURITY (SUCH AS NORTHEASTERN SECURITY) AND ASKED WHAT YOU ARE DOING, AND DIRECTED TO MOVE ALONG.  THEY MAY BE PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE TO PHOTOGRAPHY, PRESUMABLY BASED ON INVASION OF PRIVACY OF CLIENTS USING THEIR FACILITIES. THERE IS NOT MUCH YOU CAN DO ABOUT THIS, AS IT IS LEASED PROPERTY.   YOU SHOULD BE FINE ANYWHERE ALONG THE ROADWAYS AS LONG AS YOU ARE NOT OBSTRUCTING TRAFFIC OR DISREGARDING PARKING SIGNS. 

In the airport terminal there is of course the observation area.   This is very nice and wonderful that it was provided to the public.   It does give a more close-up vantage point but the trade-off is that you cannot see the big picture, which to me means the approach and departure path.    It is more like seeing aircraft sort of popping in and out of your view as they pass by, and this only if they are going to be in that area of the airport.   I don't bother with it at all as it is too much of a bother to actually enter the terminal building unless there is another reason, and with those reasons there is usually no time for idle sitting around, or there are others with me who are not interested in such things.

Now what about the whole idea of scanning and security?   First of all I am not going to talk about the question of taking your scanner onboard aircraft.  That can be left to other venues.    Scanning aircraft frequencies is one of the most accepted parts of scanning.   There really should be no question of its legality as you are listening for the most part to a party-line of communications, just as you would if you were listening to the marine band.    Everyone hears everyone else anyway and it is not private.   I am referring here specifically to the VHF aeronautical band, not to listening in on other bands.  Even so, there are some who think that any type of scanner listening is shady at best and even the idea of someone sitting and somewhat closely observing anything might conjure up thoughts of terrorism.    For sure if I were to be sitting in the observation area I would keep my scanner hidden away and use an earbud.    Not everyone wants to be disturbed by the noise.    Having said this, I am sure there would often be people who would in fact be fascinated and think it was the greatest.   At the outdoor locations I just do it all out in the open, but of course I am in my car.    Out there I don't think anyone is bothered by the noise if it carries from your vehicle, and in fact I find that many of the people sitting at the OGR viewpoint are relatives of passengers watching for a particular aircraft to takeoff or land.    Sometimes when I am pretty sure that that guy with the kids is doing just that, I have gone over and shared the communications with them, so they can actually see the airplane way out in the distance and know that it is mother's plane.    As for being approached by security, I have never had this happen to me on the airport grounds but I find the best thing is to be discrete there.  Even so, I know it is not illegal and I always carry identification.   In my case I always feel better knowing I have both an amateur radio licence and a restricted radiotelephone operator's licence with me, as well as other i.d. that makes it plain that I am to all appearances a respectable citizen but you don't need that.  It just makes me feel more confident.  I was approached by a Transport Canada security officer out on the main OGR viewing spot.  Of course he would have not jurisdiction particularly there but then again if someone looks like a terrorist it doesn't matter where you are sitting!   He was not however stopping to check on me, well maybe he was, but we had a nice chat about the aircraft and how interesting it was.

Commencing in 2016 I became a member of the Halifax Airport Watch Group, which is a group of aero enthusiasts having formal standing at the airport.   For more information on this group check my short page.   

I should add that there is that other aspect of monitoring at the airport, and that is listening to the ground operations.     I hate to disappoint but most ground operations are either on a MotoTrbo system or on the TMR2 system and encrypted.  You are not likely to hear anything even if you have the frequencies, so I am not going to list any of these.

  

WHERE DO AIRCRAFT GO AT THE AIRPORT?    Before I tell you about actual aircraft movements, it might be useful to write about the various places at the airport.   

THE PASSENGER TERMINAL

Obviously the most prominent part of the airport is the terminal.   Almost all airliners of Dash 8 size or greater will go a gate at the terminal for discharge of passengers, and subsequent pickup.     Note that the gates at the extreme southern end of the terminal are actually parking locations used by smaller aircraft from Jazz, and passengers walk out to the aircraft and vice versa, just as in the old days.   This is also true at the far north end of the terminal where the regional jets and Q400's of the American airlines embark and disembark.  Otherwise the gates are the expected type with the extendable finger passageways that mate to the aircraft door openings.  There are some exceptions to the use of the terminal by airliners.  Some airliners land at Halifax for what is termed a technical stop.   Usually this means for refuelling only.    Aircraft from northerly parts of Europe that are heading to the Caribbean area, Mexico or Central America do stop in Halifax for fuel, with the same on the return flight.    While they may go to a gate to allow some movement of people, they might just as commonly go to a refueling point.  Other less common reasons for stops are problems with the aircraft or with a passenger, whether it be illness or a disturbance.     Until the bottom fell out of the Alberta oil industry there were regular flights from the area into Halifax. At that time there was a scheduled charter airline flying Boeing 737's that making at least weekly stops at Halifax, disembarking and taking on passengers at the Esso Avitat.   This was the Canadian North flight (call sign Empress).  This aircraft carried oil industry workers to and from locations in northern Alberta.    Smaller passenger aircraft, business aircraft, cargo aircraft and visiting military aircraft go to the FBO's described next.   

FBO's

Fixed Base Operators are facilities found at all major airports.  They provide such things as refuelling, flight planning assistance, waiting areas for passengers, cafeteria and catering services, and other support services.   These services are for itinerant aircraft for the most part, such as corporate airplanes, visiting military aircraft and small private aircraft.    They also support scheduled cargo aircraft including very large ones, and as well as small cargo/passenger scheduled flights.    In some cases there are resident aircraft for which the owners have contracts for various services.    In all cases FBO's have aeronautical VHF frequencies usable for contact from up to 100 miles or so away in order to make arrangements, or for dispatch services in cases where that is part of a contract.   At Halifax there are three FBO's.    Gateway is by far the newest, but the Avitat is the busiest in terms of regular clientele.   In addition to clients shown there is a constant stream of corporate aircraft most of which seem to go to Shell or Esso.   Generally when an incoming aircraft is being directed to one of these facilities by Ground Control, the first two are referred to by the fuel brand name, as these are prominently displayed on their buildings, whereas Gateway is referred to as Gateway.

Frequency

Company

Fuel Brand

Regular Clients*

Location

123.4

Innotech, a division of IMP

Shell

British military

Along Taxiway A, relatively close to terminal

129.3

Provincial Airlines, Ltd dba Atlantic Sky Service

Esso Avitat

Cargojet, Purolator, EHS, US military, Provincial Airlines (callsign Speedair) including DFO flights.

Along Taxiway A, farther away from terminal

129.1

Gateway Facilities ULC

Irving

Fedex.  Air Transat aircraft have been seen here.

Near the road entrance to the airport, seen prominently, and accessed by aircraft via Taxiways A, J and K

129.475

Chorus Airport Services

?

Sunwing has been heard

Chorus is the parent of Jazz.  This appears to be a new service, catering to other airlines.  Does not appear to be a fuel supplier. Might only be a communications provider. (Note that in  2016 I have not heard any activity in quite a while.)

* these lists are incomplete.   Note that IMP has a completely separate overhaul operation farther south along 05/23.

Aircraft may also be going to or coming from various private facilities.   These include the IMP hangar where military and NOAA aircraft are overhauled, and the helicopter hangars at the far corner of the airport.   There are many helicopter movements in and out of the airport with many of them being flights to and from offshore gas platforms.   The EHS Lifeflight helicopter C-GIMN operates from the Esso facility.