Is spotting at Rome Fiumicino dangerous?

On Jan 18, I went to Fiumicino to watch some aircraft departing from RWY 25. After following the story of the US Air 1549 that performed a successful ditching in the Hudson river shortly after take off from La Guardia airport in NYC, and watching the wide bodies taking off with a low rate of climb in bad weather conditions, some friends and relatives asked me “what if an aircraft has a failure during take off?……Is there any risk taking pictures next to the threshold?”. Actually, even if there has been a certain number of flights experiencing emergencies or failures during or immediately after take off, there were only 2 big accidents involving aircraft taking off from RWY 25 at Fiumicino. Both occurred in 1970’s. On Apr 30, 1970, a Qantas B707-338C registered “VH-EAD” at approximately 05.23 GMT ran off the runway and became bogged in soft sand after performing the take off roll from Rome Fiumicino airport. The aircraft, that was operating as Qantas Flight 755/192, a regular public transport flight from Sydney to London via Hong Kong, New Delhi, Teheran and Rome, was slightly damaged and only one passenger of the 10 crew members and 45 passengers on board suffered minor injuries during the evacuation. According to the ATSB report (http://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/1970/AAIR/pdf/197006118.pdf) , although the take off run was started with a wind tail component of 10 kts (the maximum permissible for aircraft type), the accident was caused by an undetected gross misalignment of the nosewheels after line up. When the aircraft accelerated along the runway it swung violently to the left and the pilot could not stop the plane before it overran.
On Nov 19, 1977, an Ethiopian Airlines B707-360C registered ET-ACD, with 5 POB (People On Board) hit treetops after departure from RWY25 and struck the ground 280 mt further on causing the death of all the occupants (3 crew members and 2 passengers).
That said, since the spotting positions are next also to runways that are used for landing (16R is usually used by arriving B747-400s and B777s) and also landing accidents statistics should be analysed, I believe that the risk is extremely low and the nearby “Coccia di Morto” road is much more dangerous than any aircraft departing from Fiumicino airport.
Anyway, approximately 1 hour spent spotting provided the following registrations and a few interesting pictures of the wide bodies taking off in a rainy day from Rome intercontinental airport.
HZ-AKH B777 Saudi Arabian Airlines
I-BIXE A321 Alitalia
I-DATI MD82 Alitalia
EI-DUK CL600 Air One
EI-DOS B737-400 Air One
EI-CWF B737-400 Air One
EI-DSI A320 Alitalia
D-AIRK A321 Lufthansa
B-18806 A340-300 China Airlines
EI-DMR B737-400 Air One
HS-TGM B744 Thai
TS-INA A320 Afriqiyah
I-DANF MD82 Alitalia
4R-ADE A340-300 Sri Lankan
I-BIMF A319 Alitalia
I-BIXA A321 Alitalia
EC-KKT A320 Vueling
YL-BBX B737 Air Baltic
EI-DFH ERJ170 Alitalia
PH-BGB B737-800 KLM







About David Cenciotti 4453 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

5 Comments

  1. One of the worst prohibition that has been ever made, has been the one to take picture outside the Aviano Air force base in Aviano, Friuli Venezia Giulia, where every week I believe at least 5 planes depart for training or ordinary trasnportation between bases in the European continent and not only.

    E’ davvero un peccato, so solo che dopo quello che è successo a Settembre di qualche anno fa in america, è scattato anche in questa base allarme arancione credo sia livello sicurezza D e quindi non permettono più di fare foto sul bordo pista frontale:

    To be precise and honest the place was esxactly in front of the pilot track so probably for flashes or oder reason of security, of probably hironically of the same people taking pictures this has been prohibited.

    David do you know anything about this, should it be made possible is it to much not to allow people staying there?
    I wish since I just have seen sometimes planes taking off, and never been there taking pictures or just observing, to be able soon to check some fight planes departing…

    And is it dangeours.

    (to give more informations I can be more detailed if needed on wich is the distance from wich actually planes take off and the people observing.
    An other thing must be counted is that between the Security Fence and the “area of observation” that lays in a free Wineyard there is urban simple two way road that brings hundreds of car north and south of the area…

    I repeat, I wish I could see sometimes these fight planes taking off.

  2. Hello! Next month i will arrive in Rome and i’m looking for a good place for spotting at Fiumicino. Can you help me with some directions?

  3. Hi raduq,
    the most famous spotting points are located along Viale di Coccia di Morto, a road that runs parallel to the RWY 16R/34L. There, you can find a small bridge from where departures (taking place usually from RWY25) are visible. Another interesting place over there is the API gas station: you can park there and go on the terrace of the bar that is there where you can see both landings and take offs.
    Then, there are many others, but it mostly depends on what you want to spot.
    Bye
    David

  4. Thank you very much for helping me. I found that street via Google Earth. From terminal (railway station) is any bus into that direction? or else i will have to walk. Anyway is not too far. Thank you again for helping me.

    Have a nice day,
    Raduq

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