MIAMI – Miami International Airport (MIA), perhaps one of the most unique airports in the U.S., recently gave Airways access to an airside tour.
The morning tour, designed for local photographers and camera crews to update their MIA footage, encompassed nearly the entire airport.
A bus provided transport from the southeast side of the airport along a perimeter road to a spot near the center of runway 9-27, the longest at MIA.
While there were few arrivals at the time, one of an American Airlines (AA) Boeing 777-223(ER) along with a few AA Boeing 737-823s, the importance of airside safety was underscored by a huge sign saying, “DANGER AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY FAA TOWER CLEARANCE REQUIRED.”
Up Close Along the Taxiway
The bus continued along runway 9-27, passing the famous El Dorado plane spotting location before reaching the north side of the runway and the beginning of MIA’s cargo operations.
Standing along taxiway S, a beautiful Amerijet International (M6) Boeing 767-323(ER)(BDSF) carrying freight to Panama City (PTY) followed by a stunning El Al Israel Airlines (LY) Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner heading to Tel Aviv (TLV) and a DHL (D0) Boeing 767-3JHF(ER) heading to East Midlands (EMA) in the UK all passed by.
The D0 first officer even gave a strong wave to the 14 photographers down on the ramp, perhaps freighters are not always used to the attention. The “STOP AIRCRAFT CROSSING” sign furthered the airside atmosphere.
A Growing Cargo Hub
Passing the control tower along with a LATAM maintenance facility, airside safety was again reinforced when the bus stopped as an airport operations worker onboard noticed a plastic bag and brought it inside.
MIA, unlike many airports in the US which are primarily suburban, is located in the center of the Miami metropolitan area, plastic bags can easily blow onto the ramp and create Foreign Object Debris (FOD) hazards, necessitating constant vigilance on the part of airside workers.
Eventually the bus reached the DHL express hub bordering runway 12-30, where an infrastructure project known as the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is contributing to the construction of a new taxiway designed to enhance the efficiency of cargo operations at MIA and cement the airport’s status as a growing cargo hub.
Onto the North Side
The bus continued to the north side of the airport, passing a customs facility, the local UPS Airlines (5X) hub, and the local FedEx Express (FX) facility before stopping near the Signature Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) where an array of private jets were parked.
The location also provided superb views of runways 8L-26R and 8R-26L, with great views of scores of AA aircraft readying for departure.
The bus passed the IBC Airways cargo facility along with the local AAR and Commercial Jet maintenance facilities before passing a GlobalX Airlines Airbus A321 along with a Boeing 727 display aircraft.
Eventually the bus reached the AA maintenance facility where many of the camera crews captured superb views of AA takeoffs along runway 8R-26L.
Concourse J, Back to the South Side
Circling all the MIA concourses, the bus eventually reached concourse J, passing another LY aircraft along with a beautiful Turkish Airlines (TK) Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner heading to Istanbul (IST).
The bus made one final stop for a group photoshoot with beautiful views of concourse J, the newest at MIA, before leaving the ramp.
Phenomenal is perhaps the word that best befits this tour, the views of the aircraft and facilities along with the MIA operation in action truly constitutes a special experience, despite the COVID-19 pandemic MIA is definitely on track for sustained growth with new cargo and passenger services, cheers to MIA!
Featured image: View of the cargo ramp at MIA. Photo: © Brent Foster/Airways @5starflight