Some of the world's most dangerous airports
Flying by plane is often the only option, especially when the destination is far away.
Most cities offer suitable places for take-off and landing, but the situation is different for some locations where runways have little space, making stopovers very dangerous.
Destinations in the middle of nature, surrounded by mountains, located in icy areas or at very high altitudes, for example, can provide airports where manoeuvres are particularly challenging, despite the modernisation carried out in these areas. Here are some of the most dangerous airports in the world, even for the most experienced pilots.
Thrilling landings and takeoffs
Flying by plane is often the only option, especially when the destination is far away. Most cities offer long runways suitable for take-off and landing, but the situation is different for some locations where runways have little space, making stopovers very dangerous. Destinations in the middle of nature, surrounded by mountains, located in icy areas or at very high altitudes, for example, can have airports where manoeuvres are particularly challenging, despite the modernisation carried out in these areas. Here are some of the most dangerous airports in the world, even for the most experienced pilots.
Enrique Galeano Morales, Wikimedia Commons
Toncontín International Airport, Honduras
Situated 6 km from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, this is considered one of the most dangerous airports because its very short runway is located between several mountain ranges: the landing route is therefore very risky and over the years accidents have occurred to both private and commercial aircraft.
Hugues Mitton, Wikimedia Commons
Courchevel Airport, France
This small airport is located in the French Alps, in the Savoie department, near the ski resort of Courchevel. The steepness of the runway reaches as much as 18.5 per cent. Therefore, take-off manoeuvres downhill and landing manoeuvres uphill are very risky.
Barra Airport, Scotland
Barra Airport is located in the northern part of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. This airport is unique in that the runway is a beach. Due to its special characteristics, this place has been chosen as a set for several television and film productions. Moreover, when the tide is high, the runways are submerged.
Qamdo Bamda Airport, Tibet
This is one of the airports with the longest runway in the world (5.5 kilometres). The runway is so long because of the reduced efficiency of the aircraft engines in the rarefied air, as the airport is located at an altitude of over 4000 metres. This height therefore forces pilots to take a much longer run-up than usual. Before getting off the plane, passengers are warned to move slowly, as the rarefied air could cause fainting and drops in pressure.
Pbkiwi, Wikimedia Commons
Ice Runway, Antarctica
The main runway of the Ice Runway is located on the perennial ice of Antarctica, so taking off and landing is a difficult task: sometimes pilots cannot immediately locate the runway due to poor visibility conditions and bad weather.
Andrew Griffith, Wikimedia Commons
Gibraltar Airport is both civil and military. It also has a unique feature: the runway is located right in the middle of the city's main street, Winston Churchill Avenue, which is temporarily closed by lowering the level crossings when planes have to land and take off.
Andrei Dimofte, Wikimedia Commons
Madeira Airport, Portugal
Also known as 'Cristiano Ronaldo' International Airport (the footballer was born in Funchal, municipality of Madeira), this airport is located between the mountains and the ocean. The view is certainly breathtaking, but the winds make both landing and take-off difficult: before modernisation, three serious accidents occurred here between 1977 and 1983.
Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland
This airport is located in the southern part of Greenland, between the fjords: the very strong winds, combined with the very short runway, make this airport one of the most dangerous in the world.
Photocapy, Wikimedia Commons
Saba-Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Caribbean Netherlands.
The airport is located on the island of Saba, on a 20-metre cliff. The runway is one of the shortest in the world (just 400 metres). For obvious reasons, only small aircraft, which can carry a maximum of about 16 passengers, arrive here; the runway is forbidden for jets.
Douglas J. McLaughlin, Wikimedia Commons
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
Surrounded by mountains up to 5,500 metres high, this airport is one of the most inaccessible in the world, so much so that only a select few pilots have the necessary certifications and permits to land on the runway. Because of the difficulties, flights to and from this airport are limited and subject to strict rules: travel is only permitted in optimal weather conditions and only during daylight hours, from sunrise to sunset.
Aldo Bidini, Wikimedia Commons
Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Martin Island
Because of the runway's length of only 2,180 metres, planes are forced to land here at a very low altitude over the beach of Maho Beach in the Lesser Antilles, which makes it a very dangerous stopover. There are even signs on the island warning of the danger of being hit by jets of air from aircraft engines.
Timo Breidenstein, Wikimedia Commons
Skiathos Airport, Greece
Much like the 'Princess Juliana', the airport on the Greek island Skiathos is notorious for its short runway length. Because of this, planes landing there are forced to transit at a very low altitude over a public road.