An ordinary passenger’s view of the airport – a huge terminal, a concrete runway stretching towards the horizon, and colorful airplanes on it. Even those who fly a lot may not suspect that airfields can be dangerous and even experienced pilots are afraid of them. For example, the runway is covered with sand or covered with ice. The airfield itself is located 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 10 most dangerous airports in the world.
10. Bamda Airport (Tibet, China)
The airfield, built in 1994, is located in Chamdo County. Bamda is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest located airport in the world, 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 significantly greater than normal. For the plane to gain such speed, the runway must also be longer than at conventional airfields. The strip was built, its length – 5500 m – became a record among all airfields in China.
Candidates for work in this place undergo a rigorous selection not only for professional qualities, but also for health.
9. Narsarsuaq airfield (Greenland)
When it was built in 1941, it was a US military base. He is now a civilian. Only this international airport in the south of the country is capable of receiving large modern aircraft.
Narsarsuaq is a typical transfer terminal. Passengers arriving here from afar on large liners fly away further to their destinations already on small planes.
The length of its runway (runway) is only 1850 m, under certain weather conditions this may not be enough. The climate of this place is determined by the nearby mountains and the fiord. An unfavorable factor is increased air turbulence.
The airport has always been unprofitable, in recent years the situation has only worsened. Although the site for the new airfield has already been selected, the question of closing the former military base is not yet raised.
8. Courchevel Airport (France)
The airport is familiar to many ski lovers, because it is the air gate of the resort of the same name, the fastest way to get there. It is surrounded by mountains, 2000 m above sea level. There is a very dangerous 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 simply closes.
7. Paro Airport (Bhutan)
Bhutan is a small state in the Himalayas; you can get there quickly only by air. But you will face a dangerous landing at Paro airfield. It is located quite high (2237 m above sea level), around a mountain with heights of up to 5500 m. When landing, the plane has to literally wade between ridges; takeoff is also fraught with difficulties due to increased air turbulence.
There are only 8 pilots who have received permission to land on this airfield. These are people with nerves of steel.
6. Gibraltar International Airport
The tiny state (by the way, the former military base of Great Britain) can be seen in its entirety through the plane’s window. The space is really small (6.5 sq. Km), and the runway partially runs along an embankment surrounded by the sea. And then it intersects with the highway. The intersection is regulated by traffic lights. No, planes don’t have to stop at red lights. But cars and pedestrians stand while take off or landing. Locals have long been accustomed to this, and visitors admire the airplanes passing by.
The airport became civil in 2003. No incidents related to such an unusual arrangement of the Gibraltar airport have been recorded, so feel free to fly here.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (Portugal, Madeira)
The airport, opened in 1964 since 2016, bears the name of a person whom everyone there (and maybe the rest of the world) knows. In 1977, due to a too short runway (1600 m), the plane did not have time to slow down during landing and collided with a rock, 131 people were killed. And soon another accident (the plane did not fly and landed on the water) claimed 31 lives.
Work began on lengthening the runway, at the first stage up to 1800 m, and then up to 2777 m. This 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 the Cristiano Ronaldo airport is completely safe, it is the fourth in terms of traffic in Portugal.
4. Runway Matekane (Lesotho)
Matekane is a 400 m long runway that ends in a deep gorge. However, for Africa, this is still not the worst option. It was assumed that the plane, as in the famous movie, will accelerate a little, when it falls into the abyss, it will pick up the required speed and at the last moment it will still 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 divided 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 here to take selfies with a low-flying plane, despite the danger warning. In 1977, a tourist from New Zealand, holding on to the fence of the airport, was blown away by an air stream 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 and 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 name of the first climbers to climb 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 difference in height is 60 m by 527 m in length, one end breaks off into an abyss, the other rests against a mountain. Therefore, planes take off in the same direction from where they land.
Landing is also complicated by the mountainous terrain. The pilots are unable to use the instruments and sit down manually, visually controlling the position of the aircraft. Only experienced pilots who have undergone special training under the guidance of instructors are allowed to fly here.
Nowadays, you can only get to this place by private or military aircraft.
1. Juancho-Irauskin Airport (Saba Island, Netherlands)
Juancho-Irausquin 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 the safe approach of ships.
The Netherlands finance minister, whose name the airport bears, visited the island in the early 1960s. While mooring perilously along the sheer bank, he vowed to build an airport here if all went well. He kept his promise, 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. Complicates the movement of aircraft and strong winds in variable directions.
Aircraft models specially designed for short runways (STOL, or STOL, Short take-off and landing) are allowed to fly here. For example, Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander or Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter. Private flights here are strictly prohibited. The airfield is completely closed to jet aircraft. All flights are 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, since the spectacle is not open for the faint of heart. Therefore, the windows are simply closed for this time.