An ordinary passenger’s view of the airport – multiple terminals, a concrete runway is stretching towards the horizon, and colorful planes. Even those who fly a lot may not suspect that airfields can be dangerous, and even experienced pilots fear them. For example, the runway is covered with sand or covered with ice. The airport is locating on a flat patch of flat land between two cliffs or directly into the sea on piles. In this article, we present a ranking of the ten most dangerous airports in the world.
10. Qamdo Bamda Airport (Tibet, China)
The airfield, built-in 1994, is located in Chamdo County. Qamdo Bamda Airport is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest located airport globally, 4334 m above sea level. At this altitude, the air pressure is 60% of normal. People are experiencing oxygen starvation, and the technique is also working to the limit.
The liftoff speed (the speed at which an airplane can take off) at low pressure is much higher than usual. For the plane to gain such momentum, the runway must also be longer than at conventional airfields. The strip was built, its length – 5500 m – became a record among all airports in China.
Candidates for work in this place undergo a rigorous selection not only for professional qualities but also for health.
9. Narsarsuaq Airport (Greenland)
When Greenland build it in 1941, it was a US military base. He is now a civilian. Only this international class airport in the south of the country is capable of receiving sizeable modern aircraft.
Narsarsuaq is a typical transfer terminal. Passengers arriving here from afar on large liners fly further to their destinations already on small planes.
The length of its runway (runway) is only 1850 m; this may not be enough under certain weather conditions. The nearby mountains and the fiord determine the climate of this place. An unfavorable factor is increasing air turbulence.
The airport has always been unprofitable; in recent years, the situation has only worsened. Although the new airfield site has chosen, closing the former military base is not raised yet.
8. Courchevel Altiport (France)
The airport is familiar to many ski lovers because it is the resort’s air gate, the fastest way to get there. It is surrounding by mountains, 2000 m above sea level; the airport has a hazardous inclined (18.5 degrees) runway with a length of 525 m. It does not have a course-glide system (KGS), radio navigation equipment necessary for instrument landing. As a result, in bad weather, the airport becomes too dangerous and closes.
7. Paro Airport (Bhutan)
Bhutan is a small state in the Himalayas; you can quickly get there only by air. But you will face a dangerous landing at the Paro airfield. It is located relatively high (2237 m above sea level), around a mountain with heights of up to 5500 m. When landing, the plane has to wade between ridges literally; takeoff is also fraught with difficulties due to increased air turbulence.
There are only eight pilots who have received permission to land on this airfield. These are people with nerves of steel.
6. Gibraltar International Airport
The passengers could see the tiny state (by the way, the former military base of Great Britain) entirely through the plane’s window. There is little space (6.5 sq. Km), and the runway partially runs along an embankment surrounded by the sea. And then it intersects with the highway. Traffic lights regulate the intersection. No, planes don’t have to stop at red lights. But cars and pedestrians stand during takeoff or landing. Locals have long been accustomed to this, and visitors admire the airplanes passing by.
The airport became civilian in 2003. No incidents related to such an unusual arrangement of the Gibraltar airport recorded, so feel free to fly here.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (Portugal, Madeira)
The airport, opened in 1964, in 2016, bears the name of a person everyone knows. In 1977, due to a too-short runway (1600 m), the aircraft did not have time to brake during landing and collided with a rock. The crash killed one hundred thirty-one people. And soon, another accident (the plane did not fly and landed on the water) claimed 31 lives.
Work began to lengthen the runway, at the first stage up to 1800 m, and then up to 2777 m. It was a task of exceptional technical difficulty. A significant part of the new runway runs along a reinforced concrete flyover of 180 supports up to 50 m high.
Now Cristiano Ronaldo Airport is entirely safe; it is the fourth largest traffic in Portugal.
4. Matekane Air Strip (Lesotho)
Matekane is a 400 m long runway that ends in a deep gorge. However, this is not the worst option for Africa. It was assumed that the plane, as in the famous movie, will accelerate a little. When it falls into an abyss, it will pick up the required speed, and at the last moment, it will fly.
Until 2009, when Matekane was finally closed, planes flew here – not only local traffic but also from neighboring states. Now the runway is open for small private aircraft, which feel quite comfortable there.
3. Princess Juliana Airport (Sint Maarten)
Saint Martin Island in the Caribbean is dividing in half between France (Saint Martin Island) and Holland. The runway (2300 m) of Princess Juliana Airport on Dutch territory starts just 50 m from the local Maho beach.
Landing airliners fly just 10 meters above the beach. People gather in droves to take selfies with a low-flying plane, despite the danger warning. In 1977, a tourist from New Zealand, holding on to the airport fence, was blown away by the airflow from the engines of a Boeing 737 taking off, and she died.
The planes are also in danger here – the rock is right on the course, so the pilots do not have to relax.
2. Tenzing–Hillary Airport (Nepal)
This is the only airport near Everest; from here (2860 m above sea level), many climbing expeditions begin. In 2008, he received the first climbers’ name from climbing Everest – Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.
Low clouds and constant winds are the reason for the frequent closure of the airport. If you are lucky with the weather, the helicopter will take tourists directly to the Base Camp at the foot of Everest at an altitude of 6000 m.
The runway has a steep slope; the height difference is 60 m by 527 m in length, one end breaks off into an abyss, the other rests against a mountain. Therefore, the planes take off in the same direction from where they land.
The mountainous terrain also complicates landing. The pilots are unable to use the instruments and sit down manually, visually controlling the aircraft’s position. Only experienced pilots who have undergone special training under the guidance of instructors are allowed to fly here.
Now you can only get to this place by private or military aircraft.
1. Juancho-Yrausquin Airport (Saba Island, Netherlands)
Juancho-Irauskin Airport is the most dangerous in the world. The small island of Saba, the top of an underwater volcano, is located in the Caribbean Sea near the island of St. Martin and also belongs to the Caribbean Netherlands. The steeply submerged shores do not allow the construction of a protected harbor here for ships’ safe approach.
The Netherlands finance minister, whose name the airport bears, visited the island in the early 60s. While mooring perilously along the sheer bank, he vowed to build an airport here if all went well. He kept his promise, and in 1963, the construction was completed.
Juancho Irausquin Airport has the shortest and most dangerous runway in the world for international airports, at only 396 m. The start and end of the runway drop abruptly. The airport has also complicated aircraft movement and strong winds in variable directions.
It is allowed to fly here for aircraft models specially designed for short runways (STOL, short takeoff and landing)—for example, Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander or Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter. Private flights here are strictly prohibited. The airfield is wholly closed to jet aircraft—all flights operated by a single company – Windward Islands Airways, whose pilots undergo special training.
There are special restrictions for tourists arriving on the island. So, you can take with you personal luggage weighing only 5 kg. But the most unusual limitation is that you cannot look through the window during landing, as the spectacle is not open for the faint of heart. Therefore, the windows are closed for this time.