From one AV plane watcher geek to another – I get the rush of adrenaline as an aircraft pushes past V1 speed, rotating ever so elegantly before lifting nose-up into the air. What’s a real treat, however, is spotting the occasional unique aircraft type that sits outside of your usual narrow-bodied A320s or wide-bodied Dreamliners.

Ever so often, it feels like you’ve hit the aviation jackpot when an incoming special aircraft type is spotted on Flightradar24 (the OGs will know what’s up). 

The next time you’re flying through Changi Airport or plane spotting at Changi Airport’s Viewing Malls and Viewing Galleries, see if you can spot six of these interesting plane types – with number five being a personal favourite of mine! 

Check out this plane spotting guide!

1. The ‘Queen of the Skies’ - Lufthansa B747-8

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Check out the older Lufthansa livery that features the iconic navy and yellow colourways.

Ah, many plane watchers were sad to see this one go. When the final Qantas 747 passenger flight departed from Australia for storage and drew a kangaroo outline in the sky in memory, many were fighting back tears. It marked the end of an era for the aviation community. But, the Queen lives on! Despite being retired, you can still spot the Boeing 747 being used fairly commonly as cargo aircraft across various carriers. 

As a passenger, however, you can still experience the B747-8 in action when you fly the Singapore-Frankfurt route via Lufthansa – it being the only passenger B747 service in Singapore. This marks the first time that Lufthansa has used this B747-8 on this route, and with that, the return of its First Class cabin too. 

That said, don’t be surprised if you spot the occasional Korean Air and Air China B747 passenger flights that may make an appearance in Changi on an ad-hoc basis! However, they are not regularly scheduled to fly to Changi at the time of writing. 

While the jumbo jet A380 might be the largest commercial aircraft in terms of sheer capacity, the B747-8 is the longest commercial aircraft measuring 76.3m from end to end, enabling it to accommodate a maximum of 524 passengers.

Keep a lookout for our new series on Changi Airport's YouTube Channel - "Have you seen that plane?" - featuring special aircraft types and liveries at Changi Airport!

2. Qatar A350-1000

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Marvel at the remarkable Airbus A350-1000, a testament to cutting-edge aviation technology.

With all plane spotters’ eyes on the rising star A350, it’s worth noting that Qatar Airways is the only operator that currently flies the latest variant A350-1000 to and from Singapore. 

The easiest way to tell the A350-1000 apart from its -900 counterpart lies in the landing gears – lookout for six wheels on each main landing gear due to the load distribution, as compared to the A350-900 which only has four on each gear. 

More wheels can enhance the larger aircraft's stability during ground manoeuvres such as taxiing, take-off, and landing. There's also more surface area in contact with the ground, and this can help the plane stop more efficiently when landing.

But that’s not all that sets the new variant apart. It also boasts vertical sidewalls instead of curved ones to create a roomier feel from inside the aircraft, as well as larger windows for a sense of spaciousness. When put together, this duo spells comfort like no other. 

As many plane watchers might already know, the aircraft is also made with 53% composite material, making it lighter and hence translating to 25% less fuel consumption and 25% less carbon emissions. This reduction in fuel burn also means that the aircraft can fly further distances without the need for layovers – a win for both the environment and passengers!

3. Aircalin/Cebu Pacific A330-900neo

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Spot the innovative A330-900neo mid-take-off, a game-changer in modern aviation.

Speaking of new Airbus variants, how about trying to spot the latest iteration of the fan-favourite butter machine – the A330-900neo (New Engine Option)? 

Well-loved for its famed smooth landings, its steep-tilted landing gear helps to contribute to a more pleasant passenger experience on approach and touch down. There are currently only three operators that fly this variant of the A330 to Changi Airport – Aircalin, Cebu Pacific, and Starlux. 

The A330-900neo differs from the A330-300 in a couple of ways. So, how do you differentiate between these two types of aircrafts? For one, it has a longer wingspan of 64m - that’s 4m longer than its -300 counterpart. It also has a slightly upward curved wingtip that looks closer to that of the A350, as compared to the sharper wingtips of the A330-300. The A330-900 also boasts two Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines which have more efficient fuel burn.

4. Air Niugini/Japan Airlines B767s

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Step back in time with the Boeing 767, once a marvel of transatlantic travel, now a rare sight in the skies. Keep an eye out at Changi Airport's Viewing Malls and Galleries as these classics are still flown by Air Niugini and Japan Airlines.

So you’ve heard of the B777s and B787s, but the older iteration – the B767 – once made waves? for transatlantic routes on twin-engine jets, which was a big feat at that time! While the number of B767s in operation has now dwindled, you can still catch a glimpse of them at Changi Airport’s Viewing Malls and Viewing Galleries flown only by these two airlines – Air Niugini and Japan Airlines.

The most obvious difference between the B767-400 and B777-200 is the fact that the former has two sets of two wheels on its main landing gear, while the latter has two sets of three. The B767 is also the first Boeing wide-body aircraft to be designed with a digital glass cockpit featuring electronic flight instruments that use multi-function displays and can be adjusted to display flight information on a need basis. 

5. Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Emirates A380s

You'll know an A380 when you see one!

The Jumbo Jet. SuperJumbo. MegaBus. Whatever you may know it as, it’s undeniable that the double-decker Airbus A380 has now solidified its place in the skies with its iconic quad-engine silhouette, thundering through to every city it flies to. 

Holding the mantle of the largest passenger aircraft today, the A380 can seat a maximum of 853 travellers in a single-class configuration. It’s hard to miss what I like to fondly call the ‘King of the Skies’, especially when parked alongside smaller, narrow-bodied aircraft along the apron. 

Plane spotters can catch the iconic gentle giant as it is flown by Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Emirates to and from Changi.

Best places to spot these aircrafts at Changi Airport

Besides Changi Airport's Viewing Malls and Viewing Galleries, here are some of the best places to to witness these magnificent aircraft in action.

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Don't miss the chance to indulge in some plane spotting the next time you're at Changi Airport.

*Pro-tip! Whether you’re at Changi with the kids for a fun day out or transiting through the airport, here’s where you can do a tiny bit of plane spotting the next time you’re here: 

  • Terminal 1 – Get some fresh air and snag some views of the airside at the Cactus Garden and Aerotel Swimming Pool.
  • Terminal 2 – The Sunflower Garden is a great place for spotting both blooms and planes!
  • Terminal 3 – As you stroll along the perimeter of Terminal 3, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling window views of the airside – try your luck at spotting special aeroplanes taking off there!
  • Terminal 4 – On your way to your designated gate, keep your eyes peeled for special aircraft along the way. Also, at the end of the International Food Hall, there’s a small viewing gallery for your aeroplane watching pleasure.

Bring along your tech gadgets like a camera or mobile phone to snap your favourite shots while plane spotting at Changi Airport too!


Looking back on the diversity of aircrafts, it’s amazing to see how technology in aviation is constantly evolving regardless of whether you’re an AV geek or not. As aeroplanes get lighter and more energy-efficient, it also translates into benefits for the everyday traveller – be it more diverse flight offerings or more cost-effective flights. 

If the shift towards Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and composite materials for newer aircraft is any indication of where the future of aviation is headed, then sustainability’s the name of the game. While composite materials for aircraft fuselage can vary, the two most commonly used materials are the light-weight, high-temperature resistant carbon fibre and aluminium.

Airlines have been switching out the older aircraft in their fleet for newer, more fuel-efficient models as the industry inches closer to the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 dream. Until we get there, we can only watch in anticipation as the aviation industry brims with all the promise that innovation can bring.


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