Yesterday at the gym I came across an interesting documentary on BBC about the most dangerous airports in the world. The documentary was very interesting and showed under which circumstances the pilots have to work. The following factors of the airports make them one of the most dangerous airports in the world:
- difficult and changing weather conditions
- difficult location
- short landing strip
- landing strip surrounded by mountains
In my top 5 list of most extreme airports it’s mostly a combination of several factors, which makes them so difficult and dangerous.
5. Gibraltar airport in Peninsula
This is probably the only airport in the world that crosses a busy automotive road. When an airplane takes off the traffic along Winston Churchill Avenue has to be stopped in order to prevent heavy accidents.
4. Princess Juliana International Airport in St. MaartenThis airport is located on the Dutch-French Caribbean island. It is the second busiest airport in the Eastern Caribbean. The airport is famous for its short landing strip of 2180 meteres. Therefore the planes have to fly extremely low, right over Maho Beach, when as a tourist you feel like you can reach a plane passing by 20 m above your head.Picture: www.aviationabove.comThe second factor which makes the airport dangerous is the “fence surfing” by tourist, who love the adrenaline kick. Several people get hurt every year but until a serious accident will happen, the local authorities will not do anything about this tourist attraction.
3. Gustaf III Airport in St BarthsAnother busy airports in the Caribbean. Also known as the St. Jean Airport, the runway at this airport on St. Barts Island is narrow and planes coming here for landing have to be careful not hit a sloping hillside. The landing stripe is only 646 meter and hitting the runway too late might leave your plane in the water like you can see on the picture below.
2. Tequcigalpa airport in HondurasGetting through the mountains, short strip and consistently changing weather are only some hurdles to overcome for a safe landing in Tegucigalpa. It’s situated in a valley 1,004 meters above sea level, surrounded by mountains and busy streets. Planes need to make a 45-degree bank to effectively reach the strip in exactly marked spots. In case the pilot will miss the white marking for the tires, he will be forced to make another round and repeat this maneuver. Otherwise his plane wouldn’t be able to stop before the fence, which is separating the airport strip from the street and town. In 2008 the TACA flight 390 forced 108 dead passengers and 6 dead crew members, after the pilot couldn’t stop the plain on time, broke the fence and crashed on the street, located below (second picture below). Due to the surrounding mountainous terrain, passengers will experience a quick drop in altitude in order for the plane to line up with the runway.Picture: www.architecturendesign.net
1. Lukla Airport in Nepal
Renamed to Tenzing-Hillary Airport in honor of the two men who first conquered Mount Everest. Visitors to Mount Everest frequently use this Nepalese airport on 2,438 m above sea level and all reported tourists were really scared when they saw the short landing stripe from the air. Some of them were kissing land after landing :). The Lukla Airport runway is nestled between a mountain on one end and a 300 m drop into a valley on the other. The landing and take-off strips here is only 460 m long. The airport has no modern air traffic control features. You will find here no lights nor electric power.