Flying is genuinely the fastest and easiest way to travel from one place to another. But at such high altitudes, you are at the mercy of the skill of the pilot. These airports, however, test the skills of the pilots even more than during flying with their different designs and peculiar locations. Take a look at the top 10 most dangerous airports of the world.
10. Lukla International Airport in Nepal
The Lukla Airport in Nepal serves those who come to visit or summit Mt. Everest. What makes it so dangerous is the location between high mountains and the incredibly small landing strip. There is little electricity and no lights so landing in cloudy conditions or night is nearly impossible. There is also no control tower or air traffic controllers so pilots are on their own to land their aircrafts.
9. Courchevel International Airport in France
A video of a plane landing at Courchevel International Airport went viral last year owing to the smallest runway of any airport in the world. Measuring just 525 meters, the runway also has a 18.5% gradient which makes even taking off more tricky. If aircrafts do not gather enough speed, they just run off the cliff, hoping for the best. To prepare descent, the pilots have to weave through a narrow valley in The Alps which makes landing even more difficult.
8. Toncontin Airport, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Airports in mountains are difficult to manage. Toncontin Airport is no different. In order for planes to prepare for decent, they must make a quick 45-degree bank turn to reach the runway in a valley. After this bank, planes must rapidly drop in altitude, being careful not to scrape the terrain directly underneath.
7. Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten
This airport is famous than others due to the presence of a public beach in its vicinity. For the tourists, the landing aircrafts produce gusts of winds and sand which may cause nuisance. For the pilots, not hitting a person on the head is the least of their concerns because the runway is only 2179 meters long. This is too short for the big aircrafts like A340 and the 747 that land there due to the booming touring industry. Big aircrafts require at least 2500 meters of runway.
6. Paro Airport in Bhutan
This airport is ranked by many as the most dangerous airport in the world. It can be assessed from the fact that only 8 pilots are qualified to land at this airport. The runway is surrounded by 5,500-meter peaks with a runway only 1981 meters long. Large planes have to make a fast descent to land at this airport.
5. Gibraltar International
This airport isn’t particularly difficult to land at but has a very interesting design. The Winston Churchill Avenue runs through the runway and traffic has to be stopped so that aircrafts can land. There have been many close calls in the airport’s history.
4. McMurdo Air Station, Antarctica
Not many people travel to Antarctica, hence the infrastructure at this airport is lacking. The runway is of slick ice and planes can run wayward if the landing isn’t perfect. The infamous crash of C-121 in 1970 at this airport is reminded by the ruins of that plane still buried on the side in the snow. Pilots are trained to land using night vision goggles as the airport is in the dark for 6 months in a year.
3. Madeira Airport
Madeira Airport is a marvel of Civil Engineering but that is exactly why it is dangerous as well. The engineers decided that an extension of the runway was needed to cater for the air traffic. As the airport is situated between the cliffs and the ocean, it was decided to make an artificial island where 180 columns were erected to bear the load of the extended runway. These columns are the only things holding it together when an aircraft touches down and take a massive shock loading in the process.
2. MCAS Futenma, Okinawa
This airport is situated in a US Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa, Japan. The Navy and the Marine Corps rank it as the most dangerous airport in the world where F/A-18 Hornets and V-22 Osprey continuously land. The area is strategically important to the US military, which is part of the reason it maintains operation. Part of the reason this airport is so dangerous is because high-density housing sits in an area that should be cleared for emergency situations.
1. Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland
This airport is also covered in ice most of the time. The length of the runway is only 1800 meters and this slick runway makes it the most dangerous airport in the world. The weather is constantly windy or even stormy to some extent causing intense turbulence and low visibility. Shear winds and the icy runway direct the planes off course. There is an active volcano nearby which also causes much trouble in visibility when it erupts.