Most people, when they hear the word ” airport “, imagine a large building, adjacent facilities, and runways (runways) as vast spaces, like fields, with or without pavement. Even active air users do not always know that an airfield is not always a flat and dry piece of land. There are runways in the world that are feared not only by passengers but also by experienced pilots.
A strip of sand or ice, an airport in the middle of the sea or on the top of a mountain … Impressive? Thrill-seekers will surely appreciate our selection of the world’s most dangerous airports. Even if you are not, do not rush to leave the site, it will be interesting.
- 10. Bamda Airport (Tibet, China)
- 9. Narsarsuaq airfield (Greenland)
- 8. Courchevel Airport (France)
- 7. Paro Airport (Bhutan)
- 6. Gibraltar International Airport
- 5. Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (Portugal, Madeira)
- 4. Runway Matekane (Lesotho)
- 3. Princess Juliana Airport (Sint Maarten)
- 2. Tenzing and Hillary Airport (Nepal)
- 1. Juancho-Irauskin Airport (Saba Island, Netherlands)
10. Bamda Airport (Tibet, China)
The airport has been operating since October 1994. Located in Chamdo urban district. Bamda holds the record for two criteria. Firstly, it is the highest airport in the world. The highest point of the runway is 4334 meters above sea level. In such an environment, both people and technology feel great discomfort. The fact is that at an altitude of 4 km, the oxygen saturation of the air decreases, which affects the operation of the engines. Pilots are in great difficulty. It is very difficult to lift an airplane into the air in such conditions. The best safety solution is to extend the runway length. Hence the second record – 5,500 m, is the maximum length of the landing site among all civilian airports in the country.
To avoid unpleasant situations in the air, airport personnel are selected very carefully. Only experienced professionals are preferred.
9. Narsarsuaq airfield (Greenland)
An airport with a rich history. It was built back in 1941, then it had a different status – an American military base. At the moment, it means a lot to the country, as it is the only international one in the south of Greenland. Narsarsuaq receives large airliners. The runway allows, because its length is 1850 m. However, some experts call it insufficient for aircraft of this level.
The airport plays the role of a transfer point. From here, passengers fly to their destinations, transferring to small planes.
There are many fjords in the vicinity of the take-off area. The climatic conditions also cannot be called favorable – increased turbulence.
More than once there was talk about the loss of Narsarsuaq. Recently he has been experiencing serious financial difficulties. The site for the construction of the new airport has already been chosen, but it is too early to talk about the closure of the “most dangerous” airport.
8. Courchevel Airport (France)
The airport serves one of the most famous French ski resorts. However, this, so, is understandable, because they have the same name. Courchevel is located among the mountains, 2000 m above sea level. This is not the main danger of the airfield. Much worse is the runway, which only experienced pilots can handle. It is known for its length – only 525 m and an angle of inclination (18.5 °). The runway is not equipped with a glide path system (instrument), so landing becomes impossible during fog.
7. Paro Airport (Bhutan)
Bhutan is a mountainous country that can only be reached by plane. True, for this you will have to land at one of the most dangerous airports in the world – Paro. It is located in the mountains (2237 m above sea level). The terrain is too difficult – the Himalayan mountains surround the airport on all sides, their height reaches 5,500 m. Landing is carried out in extreme conditions – increased turbulence.
To get to the airfield, the plane is forced to maneuver between mountain ranges. Certain problems arise during the takeoff of airliners. Pilots must have a steel endurance. It is not surprising that at the moment there are only 8 of them. Each pilot received a certificate for the right to fly an aircraft in mountainous terrain.
6. Gibraltar International Airport
The peninsula of Gibraltar is famous for its tiny size (6.5 km²). It turned out that organizing the transport infrastructure in such conditions is not such a big problem. The runway goes into the sea for several hundred meters (embankment), and it also intersects with the road. During takeoff and landing of air transport, cars and people stop moving. All this action is regulated by traffic lights. If for the inhabitants of the peninsula, this phenomenon has long become commonplace, then the guests of Gibraltar are wildly delighted with the beautiful views of airliners taking off. They can be enjoyed even from the window of the hotel room.
The airport was previously used only for military needs, since 2003 civil aviation has also received permission. If you have to fly to Gibraltar one day, don’t worry. Despite the difficult conditions, during these 17 years not a single tragic incident occurred.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (Portugal, Madeira)
The airport was built back in 1964, during which time it has changed many names. In 2016, he was named after the famous Portuguese footballer. Now the runway is 2,777 m long, but this was not always the case. Previously, it was much shorter, which is why a terrible tragedy occurred in 1977. During the landing, the pilot miscalculated a little and the plane crashed into the mountain. 131 victims. A month later, another plane landed on the water, killing 36 people.
Now the runway has been lengthened, due to the reinforced concrete structure, so the danger upon landing has been significantly reduced.
4. Runway Matekane (Lesotho)
Matekane can hardly be called an airport, it is just a runway. Its length is 400 m, and then … an abyss of 600 m. The designers of this miracle assumed that this length would be enough for the plane to go into free fall and take off at the most crucial moment. In 2009, Matekane was closed, and local and international transportation was banned. Still, the strip is still periodically used for private aviation flights.
3. Princess Juliana Airport (Sint Maarten)
The peculiarity of the airport is its uncomfortable position. The end of the runway literally touches the Maho Beach, which is very popular with the townspeople. When landing, the distance between it and the beach reaches 10 meters. Vacationers are not afraid of such giants, on the contrary, there are always many people who want to take a look at the airliners. Another disadvantage of the airport is the cliff at the takeoff heading. Pilots have to use all their skill to avoid collisions.
2. Tenzing and Hillary Airport (Nepal)
A small airport is located in the east of Nepal, near Everest. Runway length – 527 m, it is located on a slope. The height above sea level is 2860 m. The terrain is very difficult, the runway ends have a difference of 60 m. Therefore, takeoff and landing are always carried out from different sides of the site. Thick clouds and strong gusts of wind only exacerbate the situation. Pilots do not have the opportunity to use special devices, therefore, they are guided by the rules of visual flights (observation of the horizon line). Every pilot goes through training before becoming a member of the crew. It also has to meet stringent requirements.
1. Juancho-Irauskin Airport (Saba Island, Netherlands)
The airport is located in the middle of the sea on the island of Saba. The runway breaks all records, its length is only 400 m. It is surrounded on all sides by rocks and the sea. Weather conditions add extreme, strong winds often blow here, which regularly change direction. Only one company, Windward Islands Airways, has the right to use the airport. All crew members undergo special training. To avoid accidental casualties, there are strict bans on private flights.