The Most Dangerous Airports in the World

Landing at these airports is a terrifying experience for both pilots and passengers. Here are some of the Most Dangerous Airports in the World.

Air travel is one of the safest modes of transportation available. Although airports are designed to be as safe as possible for landing and departure, some locations, weather, and circumstances necessitate the building of runways in potentially hazardous areas. This list lists fifteen such airports, as well as the reasons why they are dangerous.

Most Dangerous Airports in the World
Most Dangerous Airports in the World ( Image Credit: Flickr )

15. Lukla Airport – Nepal

Lukla Airport, located at a height of 9,334 feet above sea level near the base of Mount Everest, is one of the world’s highest airports. It has been used since 1965. This airport is dangerous for planes due to its location in the harsh Himalayan terrain. Lukla is the main airport for those wishing to climb Mount Everest or explore the Himalayas. The airport is surrounded by mountain ranges, has a relatively short runway, a hostile environment, no air traffic control, and no illumination, all of which make landing and taking off challenging for even experienced pilots. As a result, pilots must use extraordinary caution when landing and taking off. Since 1973, various events at the airport have resulted in deaths and injuries.

14. Courchevel International Airport – France

This airport serves the ski resort of Courchevel in the French Alps. Most aviation websites rank this airport as one of the most dangerous in the world. When arriving or departing from the airport, pilots must traverse narrow tunnels between the Alps, with no ground landing or take-off operations. There are no lights or instrument approach procedures to assist pilots in navigating in the dark, fog, mist, or low clouds, exacerbating the issue. The only obvious guideline due to the surrounding mountains is a no-round. The runway is not only exceptionally short (1,762 feet), but it also has an 18.6% grade and finishes in the valley of a neighboring hill. In this condition, pilots risk plummeting down the cliff if they do not achieve enough speed for take-off.

13. Toncontin Airport – Tegucigalpa, Honduras

At a height of 3,297 feet, this military and public airport is located four miles within Tegucigalpa’s mountainous terrain. Because of its difficult approach and changeable weather conditions, Toncontin was voted the world’s second most hazardous airport by Most Extreme Airports. Planes make a sharp 45° turn to access the runway, which is nestled within a valley, and then descend fast but safely. Eleven accidents at the airport have resulted in injuries and deaths since 1962.

12. Princess Juliana International Airport – St. Maarten

This airport is located on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, near Maho Beach and the beach, which helps to explain why it is on this list. The landing approach and flypast of Princess Juliana are both low. Maho is a public beach that borders the airport, and jets regularly fly just a few feet over the shore, generating jet blast and water and sand disturbance. Approaching the runway, there is a 3 degree glide slope flying over the water, which may cause pilots using visual flight rules to underestimate the altitude. The runway’s takeoff is more challenging, requiring a quick turn to avoid hills. The runway measures 7,546 feet long by 148 feet wide.

11. Paro Airport – Himalayan Mountains, Bhutan

Bhutan’s Paro Airport is likewise amid the Himalayan mountains. Because this airport is so risky, only a few pilots are qualified to land there at any given time. Bhutan allows only day flights on the 6,445-foot runway, which is surrounded by steep hills, during observed weather conditions. The adjacent mountains need quick descents and ascents. This airstrip only allows around 25 pilots to land.

10. Gibraltar International – Gibraltar

This airport, located in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, serves both military and civilian travelers. The runway runs along Winston Churchill Avenue, which connects Gibraltar to Spain and is generally blocked when a jet arrives or departs. Despite the presence of a stop sign for vehicles, there have been several near-collisions. Second, the runway is prone to strong crosswinds throughout the winter, making landing more difficult. A part of the runway is built on reclaimed beachfront land to increase its length.

9. McMurdo Air Station – Antarctica

Despite the fact that this airport has enough of space and no nearby structures, the ice surface that persists for the most of the year needs a precise landing. Pilots land using night vision glasses since the location lacks power and is dark for the bulk of the year due to earth movement. A US Navy plane crashed upon landing in 1960, wounding the crew; nonetheless, the plane could not be salvaged and sank when the ice melted.

8. Madeira Airport – Portugal

This airport, also known as Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport, features a platform expansion on an artificial island to extend its size. The platform is supported by about 180 pillars. Strong winds exacerbate the risk of landing on the limited platform at Portugal’s fourth largest airport. Pilots must have additional training in order to land at these extreme airports. The airport is surrounded by the water and mountains, which engineers have enlarged twice since 1982.

7. MCAS Futenma – Okinawa, Japan

Futenma Marine Corps Aviation Station is a large US aviation post on the island of Okinawa. The station is dangerous since it is located on a small island with a dense population in the surrounding area. In the case of an emergency, the neighboring communities would be impossible to flee, perhaps having devastating consequences. The runway measures 8,990 feet long by 148 feet wide. Pilots must land and take off dangerously close to people’s homes. This risk, along with other factors, adds to the never-ending controversy about the station’s relocation.

6. Narsarsuaq Airport – Greenland

Greenland has severe weather, and this airport is usually covered in ice for the most of the year. Aside from the ice, the region features poor visibility, strong winds, and storms, making landing and takeoff challenging. An active volcanic feature near the airport has blanketed the area in volcanic ash, creating visual problems and posing the risk of causing aircraft damage.

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5. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – Saba Island

This airport is located on the Caribbean island of Saba and has one of the shortest commercial aviation runways, measuring 1,312 feet in length. The runway is surrounded on two sides by hills and on both ends by cliffs that plummet into the sea. With a total island area of barely five square miles, pilots must be cautious when landing and taking off to avoid the slopes and falling into the ocean.

4. Damascus International Airport – Syria

Damascus International Airport, unlike the other airports on this list, does not have tough geography or weather; nonetheless, the airport’s closeness to the ongoing civil war and occasional international incidents makes it risky. Multiple conflicts and murders have occurred near the airport, leading it to be only partially operational. Near the airport, surface-to-air missiles and fighter planes are commonly observed.

3. Barra Airport – Scotland

This airport boasts the only public beach runway in the world. Despite the airport’s five-foot elevation above sea level, the three runways are visible at low tide but submerged at high tide. Although night landings are infrequent, they are possible by employing motor vehicle lights to let pilots to see the runway. The three runways form a triangle and are marked with wooden poles at the corners to guide planes. This is the 3rd Most Dangerous Airports in the World.

2. Agatti Aerodrome (AGX) – Lakshadweep, India

This airport is located in an archipelago off India’s west coast and has a small runway that serves around 35 islands. There are only little strips of land on both sides of the runway, thus pilots must carefully arrange planes in the center while landing and taking off on the short runway. The runway measures 3,950 feet in length and 98 feet in width. Concerns were raised in 2010 over plans to expand the airport by building a bridge to a neighboring island. This is the 2nd Most Dangerous Airports in the World

1. Kai Tak Airport – Hong Kong

Despite being decommissioned in 1998, Kai Tak Airport was once the world’s most dangerous airport. Landings grew problematic when skyscrapers covered runways and a harbor at the airport’s end, to the point that pilots could no longer see the runway properly. Winds from nearby mountains blasted across the area, making landings even more difficult. Pilots had to be not only skilled, but also brave enough to land at the airport.

What is the Most Dangerous Airport in the World?

Although it was closed in 1998, Kai Tak Airport was formerly the world’s most dangerous airport. Landings were problematic because to buildings obscuring runways and a harbour at the end of the runway, to the point that pilots could no longer see the runway adequately. The nearby mountains caused gusts to blow through the area, impacting landings even further. Pilots needed to be not only skilled, but also brave enough to land at the airport.

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