Saturday, November 20, 2010

World's Most Dangerous Airports

Lukla Airport

This amazing airdrome is located 2,900 meters above sea level in Lukla, a small town in Nepal. It is also known as Tenzing Hillary Airport. The only asphalt runway of the airfield is a mere 1,500 feet long. It has a high mountain on one end and a steeply angled drop thousands of feet deep. Any minor error on the pilot’s end can cause serious problems during landing or take-off. That is the reason why it is regarded as Dangerous.

North Front Airport

This famous airfield is situated located at the southern end of the Iberian peninsula in Gibraltar in the UK. Its only 6,000 feet runway lies between the Bay of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea. Landing space is scarce in the airport with the hazardous Rock of Gibraltar situated very close to the runway. A road passes through the runway and traffic is kept waiting when a plane has to land. Gates are raised and dropped to shut out traffic much like in railway crossings. It is possibly the only airport in the world to have a landing strip intersected by a road. Only a limited number of international flights operate in the airbase. Most of these belong to the UK.
The airport was constructed during the Second World War as a RAF base. Gibraltar was a prominent British naval base at this time.

Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA)



The Princess Juliana Airport is located in the island St. Martin, one of the western Leeward cluster of Islands that is jointly administrated by France and the Netherlands. It serves the Dutch area of St. Martin. The airfield is well-known for its short runway that extends only about 7,152 feet. This is barely the landing space that heavy jets require. This is why planes fly extremely low when they approach the island. If you want to sea planes flying just a few hundred feet above your head, this is where you should be. It is actually an airport for small and medium-sized aircrafts but large planes like A340s and 747s land on it as well.The airdrome is often said to be the most dangerous airport in the world. Fortunately, no major accident has occurred at the PJIA which has become the second busiest airport in the Eastern Caribbean region.



Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport


The JEY airport is the only airfield in Saba, a Caribbean island in the Netherlands Antilles. According to a number of aviation experts is one of the most dangerous aircraft landing bases in the world. This is because it has one of the most dangerous runways in the world. Its only runway is open on all three sides to the sea, from the front and back and one side. Its only unexposed side is flanked by high cliffs. Even a small error in calculation on the part of the pilot can cause the plane to drop into the sea or crash into the hills during take-off or landing.The landing strip is marked at each end with an X. This makes commercial pilots understand that the airfield is not available for commercial aviation.



Kansai International Airport (KIA)



As you know, Japan is an island country and land is scarce in the place. That is why engineers chose to create the Kansai Airport 3 miles offshore into the Osaka bay. The artificial Kansai Island measures 2.5 miles by 1.6 miles. It is said to be visible from space. It is not known whether that is true or not but the airfield itself is often said to be situated in a dangerous location. The air base is under constant threat from dangerous cyclones and earthquakes. Aviation experts warn that the rising sea levels and climate change can also threaten the very existence of the airport. Global warming is one factor that may indeed affect the KIA in the coming years.

Madeira International Airport (MIA)



The MIA is located in Funchal near Madeira, a small island situated very far away from the coast of Portugal. The danger factor of this air base lies in its runway, which was only about 5,000 feet long initially. This was later extended to 9,000 feet by a superb feat of engineering. A huge girder bridge was erected over 200 pillars to extend one end of the landing strip. The 3,000 ft long and 590 ft wide bridge can support the weight of big, heavy aircrafts like 747. But like the Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, the landing space of this airfield is open to the sea on three sides. This makes it difficult for pilots during landing and take-off.The Funchal Airport was awarded the “Outstanding Structures Award” for its extension work by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE).

Courchevel Airport



This airfield is famous for its high altitude location. It is used to bring visitors to the famous Courchevel ski resort. The air base has an only 1,722 feet long runway. Only private aircrafts, helicopters and chartered air vehicles land on this short strip that has a cliff edge on one end. You must have seen this airport in the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies” where 007 steers a plane from the base braving the bullets of baddies. The air field is notorious in the aviation industry.



Barra International Airport




The Barra International Airport is located on the Barra Island in Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The airport is situated on the Traigh Mhor beach on the island. It is the only airfield where planes land on the beach. Even though the airport is almost washed by tide once every day, it is regularly used for commercial aircraft landing. Though landing on the base is quite perilous, no accidents have occurred here in recent memory. The air base is naturally illuminated and it is quite fun for tourists to see such an unusual airport. You can book a flight from British Airways and fly to here from Benbecula and Glasgow.

Gustaf III Airport



This airdrome is also known as Saint Barthélemy Airport. If you think that this is an airfield for royalties or religious personalities, you are making a big mistake. It is very much a public airport. The airstrip is very short and ends directly on the adjoining beach with hills only a little distance away. This is why only chartered and small regional commercial aircrafts land here. Most of these carry less than 20 passengers. During arrival, aircrafts fly over the heads of scores of sunbathers creating an amazing sight for tourists and onlookers.

Ice Runway

This is surely one of the most perilous airfields in the world. There is no shortage of landing space in this airport. The only problem is, it has no paved runways. Air vehicles have to land on large stretches of snow and ice that have been leveled very carefully. The pilot has to take special care that the weight of the vehicle does not break the surface and make the plane get stuck in the snow. Even huge aircrafts like the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules are landed here.

Hope you liked reading about some of the world’s most dangerous airports. There are many other hazardous airdromes in many other countries. If you have flied to those airfields or any of the airports mentioned in our list, share your experience with Serendib Aviation.