The World's Most Dangerous Airport Approaches

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Courchevel Airport, France

Courchevel is home to one of the shortest runways in the world at only 525 metres and a gradient of 18.5% so as to slow down landing aircraft. It’s approach is through steep valleys which can only be performed by pilots who are specially certified.

Princess Juliana Airport, St Maarten

The approach to Runway 10 at Princess Juliana Airport is over water pilots that can be disoriented regarding perceived altitude when operating under visual flight rules. The approach is normally completed by experienced pilots and Incoming airplanes approach the island on short final for Runway 10 flying low over the famous Maho Beach. The thrilling approaches and ease of access for shooting spectacular images made the airport one of the world’s favorite places among enthusiasts.

Funchal Airport, Madeira

Once famous for its short runway which is surrounded by high mountains and the ocean, it is extremely difficult to land even for the most experienced of airline pilots. Originally the runway was only 1600 metres but was extended by 200 metres and then doubled in length in 2000 which saw it extended over the ocean. The extension was built on a series of 180 columns, each being about 70m tall.

Gustaf III Airport, St Barts

Located at the base of a gentle slope and ending directly on the beach in the resort of St Jean, the descent onto this short airstrip is very steep over the hilltop traffic and departing planes fly just over the heads of sunbathers.

Gilgit Airport, Pakistan

Located at the edge of a slope, the short runway at GilgitAiport makes landing even a Boeing 737 impossible. The aircraft tends only to be used now by French and Italian ATR 42 aircraft.

Khathmandu International Airport

Since the airport is located in an oval-shaped valley surrounded by mountains as high as 9665 feet, the Kathmandu approach is one of the most difficult for pilots to navigate.

Narasrsuaq Airport, Greenland

The approach is through a fjord, so it’s necessary to make 90 degree turn to line up with the runway while in the valley. It is said to be similar to flying down a city street with high rises on both sides, and there is a risk of ice burgs drifting into the departure/arrival path.

Saba Island Airport, Netherlands Antilles

The danger with this approach arises from the airport’s physical position flanked on one side by high hills, and on the other side and at both ends of the runway by cliffs dropping into the sea. This creates the possibility that an airplane could overshoot the runway during landing or takeoff and end up in the sea or on the cliffs.

Lugano Airport, Switzerland

LuganoAgno’s airport is located at the mouth of a valley and on the edge of a huge lake and the approach navigates around the mountain which makes it very difficult for pilots, but it also has breathtaking scenery all the same.


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