The typical passenger’s vision of an airport is one with a large terminal, a concrete runway that extends to the horizon, and brightly colored jets flying above. Even frequent flyers may be unaware that airfields may be dangerous, and even expert pilots fear them. The runway, for example, maybe coated with sand or ice. The runway is located on a flat patch of straight land between two cliffs or in the sea on piles. In this post, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most dangerous airports in the world.
10Qamdo Bamda Airport (Tibet, China)
Located in Chamdo County, the airfield was constructed in 1994. Qamdo Bamda is the world’s highest airport, standing at 4,334 meters above sea level, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Air pressure is 60% of normal at this height. People are depleted of oxygen, and equipment is working at its full capacity.
At low pressure, the takeoff speed (the speed at which the aircraft can take off) is much higher than usual. The runway must be longer than ordinary airfields for the plane to achieve this speed. The runway was constructed, and its length of 5,500 meters set a new record for all Chinese airports.
Applicants for employment at this location are carefully screened for their professional qualifications and physical well-being.
9Narsarsuaq Airport (Greenland)
It was a US military base when it was constructed in 1941. Currently, it is a civilian airport. Only this international-class airport in the country’s southern region can handle big contemporary jets. Narsarsuaq Airport is a typical transit hub. Passengers coming into the country on large aircraft are transferred to their final destinations on smaller planes.
It has a 1,850-meter runway, which may not be sufficient in severe weather circumstances. The surrounding mountains and a fjord influence the climate of the area. Increased air turbulence is a disadvantageous factor making it one of the most dangerous airports in the world.
The airport has long been unprofitable, but the situation has only become worse in recent years. While a location for a new airport has been selected, the old military base’s closure is not yet on the agenda.
8Courchevel Airport (France)
Many mountain skiers are familiar with the airport since it serves as the air entrance to the same-named resort, making it the quickest route to get there. It is 2000 meters above sea level and surrounded by mountains.
An inclined runway (18.5 degrees) with a length of 525 meters is very dangerous. It is not equipped with a course-glide system (CGS) required for sensor landing. As a result, when the weather is poor, the airport becomes too risky to operate and shuts down.
7Paro Airport (Bhutan)
Bhutan is a tiny Himalayan country that can only be reached quickly by air. However, there is a risky landing at Paro airport. It is fairly elevated (2237 meters above sea level), surrounded by mountains reaching a height of 5500 meters. The aircraft must actually wade between the ridges while landing, and takeoff is similarly challenging due to increased air turbulence. In order to land at the airport, only eight pilots are authorized to do so.
6Gibraltar International Airport
The tiny state (which happens to be a former British military base) is visible in its entirety via the plane’s illuminator. The area is quite limited (6.5 square kilometers), and the runway runs partially along an embankment surrounded by water. Then it comes to a crossroads with a central road system. Traffic lights regulate the intersection. No, airplanes are not required to stop at red lights.
However, when planes take off or land, cars and people remain immobile. Locals are familiar with it all, while outsiders are astonished by the speeding jets. The airport became a civilian in 2003. There have been no reported accidents relating to this unusual structure of Gibraltar Airport; therefore, feel free to fly here.
5Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (Madeira, Portugal)
Since 2016, the airport, which opened in 1964, has been named after a well-known person across the city and maybe the rest of the globe. Due to the runway’s length of only 1600 meters, a jet crashed into a rock in 1977 and claimed the lives of 131 passengers. And shortly afterward, another disaster claimed 31 lives because the plane failed to make it and fell into the ocean.
4Matekane Airstrip (Lesotho)
The runway was extended first to 1800 meters and later to 2777 meters. It was a technological challenge of the highest kind. A substantial portion of the new runway is supported by a reinforced concrete trestle comprised of 180 piers ranging from 10 to 50 meters. Cristiano Ronaldo’s airport is now completely safe, and it is the fourth busiest in Portugal.
Matekane is a 400-meter-long runway that falls into a deep gorge. However, this is not the worst option for Africa. The aircraft was meant to accelerate somewhat as it fell into the abyss, gaining the required speed and finally flying. Until 2009, when Matekane was closed, planes arrived here from inside the country and from neighboring lands. The runway is now available to tiny private aviation airplanes, which are perfectly comfortable here.
3Princess Juliana International Airport (Saint Martin)
The Caribbean island of St. Martin is split in half between France and the Netherlands. Princess Juliana Airport’s (2,300-meter) runway starts approximately 50 meters from the nearby Maho beach in Dutch territory.
Landing planes are just 10 meters over the shore. Despite warnings about the risks, a large crowd gathers to snap selfies with low-flying aircraft. A tourist from New Zealand died in 1977 when the airflow from a Boeing 737’s engines blew her out from the airport barrier. There’s also a risk for airplanes since the rock is directly in front of them, so pilots can’t relax.
2Tenzing Hillary Airport (Nepal)
It is the only airport close to Mount Everest, and several climbing expeditions begin here (2860 m above sea level). It was named in 2008 after Tenzing Norge and Edmund Hillary, the first two climbers to peak Everest.
Low clouds and constant winds are the reasons why the airport is often closed. In the best-case scenario, the helicopter will transport the climbers straight to Everest Base Camp, located at the base of 6,000 meters elevation. The runway is steep, with a height difference of 60 meters and a length of 527 meters; one end plunges into the abyss while the other rests on the mountain. Therefore, the planes take off in the same direction from which they land.
The mountainous relief makes landing much more difficult. The pilots cannot use instruments and land manually, visually controlling the position of the airplane. Only experienced pilots with special instructor-led training are allowed to fly here. Now it is only possible to get to this place by private or military plane.
1Juancho E Yrausquin Airport (The island of Saba, Netherlands)
The airport is one of the most dangerous airports in the world. The small island of Saba, the top of an underwater volcano, is located in the Caribbean Sea near St. Martin Island and belongs to the Caribbean Netherlands. The shores, steeply submerged, make it impossible to build a sheltered harbor for the safe approach of ships here.
In the early 1960s, the island was visited by the Dutch Minister of Finance, for whom the airport is named. He promised to construct an airport here if all went well during the risky mooring at the steep beach.
He kept his promise, and the project was finished in 1963.
Juancho E Yrausquin Airport has the shortest and most dangerous runway in the world for international airports, only 396 meters. The beginning and end of the runway are steeply cut. Strong winds in alternating directions also complicate the movement of aircraft.
Aircraft models specially designed for short runways can fly here. Private flights are strictly forbidden. The airfield is completely closed to jets. 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. Thus, you can take personal luggage weighing only 5 kg. The most unusual limitation is that you are not permitted to look out the window during the landing since the view is not for the faint of heart. Therefore, the illuminators are closed for this time.