While flying is considered one of the most safe ways to travel, many passengers have a fear about flying. Some airport approaches can be more difficult than others and can make frequent flyers tremble. These are the ten most dangerous airports around the globe. They require precision landings and pilot skill.
Below the slideshow, you will find more information and Youtube clips. Are you sure I didn’t mention one? Please leave a Comment.
10. WELLINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, NEW ZEALAND
Wellington International Airport serves New Zealand’s capital. It is second only to Auckland and Christchurch in terms of airport traffic. The runway measures 2,081m (6,827ft) and appears to end in the ocean. Due to Cook Strait’s channeling effect, strong, gusty winds can cause landings that are sometimes difficult for larger aircraft. This can make landings difficult for pilots and can sometimes make flying a stressful experience for passengers.
9. GIBRALTAR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORY
Gibraltar’s runway crosses the main road into and out of British Overseas Territory. As a result, traffic must be shut down every time a plane departs or lands. Traffic jams caused by the runway crossing have resulted in the construction of a tunnel underneath the runway. However, the project was delayed and is still incomplete. Pilots don’t have to worry about crossing the highway. It’s not the highway crossing that is the problem for pilots. Instead, it’s the strong wind shear and turbulence around the Rock of Gibraltar as well as across the Bay of Algeciras which make landings here difficult and uncomfortable. Winter is a time when diversions and go-arounds are quite common.
8. PRINCESS JULIANA AIRPORT, ST MAARTEN
The famous Princess Juliana Airport, located on Saint Martin in the Caribbean, is known for its low landings above the ocean. This is due to one end of the runway’s 7,546 feet (2,300 m), length being very close to the shore. Because of its proximity to Maho Beach, the airport is a popular spot for perfect Instagram shots. The landing jets seem to hover just above the heads of people just before touchdown. However, takeoff creates enormous gusts of wind and sand that sunbathers can enjoy. However, it is not without risk: In 2017, a New Zealand woman was killed by jet blast from a departing plane.
7. NARSARQUAG AIRPORT, GREENLAND
Narsarsuaq Airport, one of only two Greenland airports capable of handling large aircraftliners, is located in Tunulliarfik Fjord at the country’s southern tip. The USA Ministry of Defense built the airport in 1941. Before they can see the runway at 6,000 feet (1823m), pilots have to deal with strong winds, severe wind turbulence, and wind shear in mountainous terrain (even on calmest days). Pilots face a lot of challenges due to the windy fjords. However, the volcano nearby can make things even more difficult. Its volcanic ash cloud, which is composed of small pieces of glass from melting ice, can cause engine damage.
6. TONCONTIN AIRPORT, HONDURAS
Toncontin Airport is located close to Honduras’ capital. It has been long considered one of the most dangerous approaches to the airport. Pilots must make a dramatic approach to the airport due to the mountainous terrain. They will have to descend steeply and turn sharply before they can line up with the runway. It is also one of the most dangerous airports in the world. A Boeing commercial plane collided with a mountainside while approaching the airport in 1989. It killed 132 people. Five more planes have crashed near or in the vicinity of the airport since then. Comayagua is currently building a new airport to replace Toncontin Airport International.
5. MADEIRA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, PORTUGAL
Madeira International Airport Cristiano Ronaldo (formerly Funchal Airport) is located in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago. It is one of the most dangerous airports due to its extraordinary construction. After a fatal plane accident in 1977, the runway was 1,600m (5,249 feet) long. It was then extended to 2,781m (9,124ft). 164 people were killed when a Boeing 727 crashed onto the runway. The runway extension is supported partly by 180 columns that are over the ocean. These columns have to withstand severe shock loading during landings. Strong winds, high mountains and the ocean make the airport dangerous. To land at the airport, pilots will need to complete additional training.
4. TENZING-HILLARY AIRPORT, NEPAL
Tenzing-Hillary Airport, also known as Lukla Airport, is the best airport in Nepal for anyone visiting Mt. Everest. The runway is surrounded by steep Himalayan terrain on all sides, including a mountain shelf and steep drop into the valley below. Although the runway is only 527m (1,729ft) in length, it slopes uphill at almost 12% which allows planes to slow down. The surrounding mountains make it impossible to do a go around. These factors make it impossible for helicopters or small fixed-wing propeller aircrafts to land. Numerous accidents at the airport have caused many injuries and deaths since 1973.
3. COURCHEVEL AIRPORT, FRANCE
The runway at Lukla is dangerously short at only 527m (1,729ft), but the one at Courchevel Airport measures 525m (1722ft). The airport, which is located in Courchevel, France’s exclusive ski resort, drops down in a cliff. Pilots must ensure they have enough speed to take off if they don’t want to be thrown off the edge. Additionally, the runway has an 18.6% slope that makes landing and takeoff difficult. Pilots must maneuver their aircraft between the Alps during takeoff and approach without using instrument procedures. The only guideline is a no-go-round because of the mountains surrounding.
2. JUANCHO E. YRAUSQUIN AIRPORT, SABA ISLAND
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport can be found approximately 45 km (28 miles) south of St Maarten on the tiny Dutch Caribbean island Saba. Also known as the original King Kong movie Island, it is about 45km (28 mi). It boasts the world’s longest commercial airport runway at 400m (1300ft). The airport is located on a rocky outcrop near the base of a mountain. It has jagged terrain on one end and drops into the sea on the other. Landing here can be nerve-wracking. The airport is closed to jet traffic. However, regional propeller aircraft can land there with waivers from The Netherlands Antilles Civil Aviation Authority.
1. PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, BHUTAN
Bhutan’s only international airport is located in Paro. It is located in a deep valley, surrounded by sharp peaks up to 5,500m (18,000ft) high. The valley is often subject to strong winds, which can cause severe turbulence. The most dangerous airport in the globe, flights are not allowed at night and only under visible meteorological conditions. Pilots must make their decisions by eye rather that relying on instruments. Pilots are completely unaffected by the dramatic approach to the runway. They maneuver between mountains at 45 degrees before landing quickly on the runway. Paro is only allowed to be landed by a very limited number of pilots. You can see my Youtube video below which shows the complete landing sequence at Paro.