16 Most Dangerous Airports in the World
Everyone from first timers to frequent fliers will be terrified while landing at any of these dangerous airports.
Lukla Airport, Nepal
If you are flying into Lukla, you are likely heading to climb Mount Everest. Danger may be your middle name but this airport is treacherous not only because of the extremely short runway but because of its height, location between mountains, and, oh yeah, the lack of power and air traffic controllers. Tackling Everest might be the least scary of all!
Toncontin Airport, Honduras
Another dangerous high altitude airport makes the list because, according to Interesting Engineering, in order for planes to prepare for the descent into Toncontin Airport, “they must make a quick 45-degree bank turn to reach the runway in a valley then rapidly drop altitude, being careful not to scrape the terrain directly underneath.” Brush up on these tips on how to survive a plane crash before you fly.
Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten
The large wide-bodied planes carrying tourists to St. Maarten require more than 8,000 feet of runway to land safely. What makes the picturesque Princess Juliana Airport dangerous isn’t the sunbathers below on the beach but the technically-too-short 7,100-foot runway originally built for the smaller planes that once frequented the island before the tourism boom arrived. But fear not, fruity drinks with umbrellas are waiting to relax your nerves once you touchdown! It might be scary but it sure is beautiful to land on St. Maarten. Here are more stunning airports in which to land.
Paro Airport, Bhutan
How dangerous is the landing at this rather unassuming airport with the microscopic 6,500-foot runway tucked in among 18,000-foot peaks of the Himalayan Mountains? Only eight(!!!) pilots in total are qualified to make the landing here at Paro Airport!
Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland
Nowhere else on earth does a pilot have to contend with the mix of factors that exist at this dangerous airport. Short runways covered in ice, extremely cold temperatures, severe winds, and low visibility due to not only heavy snow but also ash clouds from nearby active volcanoes make landing at Narsarsuaq Airport in Greenland not for the faint of heart.
Madeira Airport, Portugal
According to Jalopnik, “only 20 captains with British Airways are qualified to operate into Madeira Airport (FNC), in which they use waypoints like a banana shed [to guide them in].” Additionally, there is “no instrument landing system (ILS) so pilots must navigate the challenging terrain manually. The destination is particularly treacherous due to strong and highly variable Atlantic winds, mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.” And don’t forget that the runway was extended from 5,249 feet to 9, 124 feet by building it out into the ocean on 180 concrete pillars— it is now like a runway on stilts! The ambitious project won the 2004 Outstanding Structure Award which is considered the Oscars of structural engineering.
Courchevel Airport, France
Located in the French Alps, near the Italian border, sits this dangerous airport serving ski resorts and their daredevil guests. What makes the Courchevel Airport so dangerous is the altitude of course (6,500 feet), but also the tiny 1,760-foot runway and its 18.5 percent gradient slope making it necessary for the small planes landing here to touchdown at inclined angles just to slow down. The lack of lighting and no approach system also help to place this airport anywhere on the scale from treacherous to simply impossible to use in adverse weather.
Gibraltar Airport, Gibraltar
Wow Travel says that the Gibraltar Airport has but one runway and that that dangerous runway cuts right through the main street of the city! “Vehicles are made to stop every time an aircraft lands or takes off. Somehow there has never been a major accident.” Find out about the little-known airplane feature that could save your life.
Gisborne Airport, New Zealand
While road traffic must come to a standstill for airplanes in Gibraltar, landings at Gisborne Airport on the eastern edge of New Zealand’s North Island must be coordinated with the national rail service which runs the Palmerston North–Gisborne Line directly across the one main paved and three grass runways. While it’s not extremely busy, Gisborne isn’t abandoned like these 8 haunting airports.
MCAS Futenma, Okinawa Japan
“The situation of MCAS Futenma,” according to The Diplomat “is in direct violation of the safety standards set down for military airfields by the U.S. Department of the Navy, in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.” The dangerous U.S. Marine Corps Air Station runway sits smack dab in the middle of a crowded city, with schools, hospitals, businesses, and more than 3,000 residents in what is supposed to be a “clear zone.”