5 Most Challenging Airports To Land In The World

In this blog post, we are going to talk about one of the most difficult situations for a pilot. So, get ready… to enjoy (and suffer) this flight.

Your next destination is the airport of Lukla in Nepal. Have you heard anything about it? Well, the first thing you should know is it’s one of the most challenging airports to land.

As you already know, landing is one of the most challenging moments in every flight. There are many factors that are involved: weather, altitude, space, conditions of the ground, among other things.

If you were to find out now that your next flight is to one of the most dangerous airports in the world how would you feel?

In this blog post, we’re going to break down the 5 most challenging airports to land along with situations that could happen at some point in your time flying as a pilot.

We definitely hope that before you ever have a challenging landing, you will be ready with the safest flight practice in your home flight simulator.

Alright, let’s jump into the top 5 most challenging airports to land in the world!

#5 Wellington International Airport, New Zealand

Starting with number 5, we all know that New Zealand is a beautiful paradise to see and enjoy. However, we can’t say the same about the Airport in Wellington, the capital city. 

The location is just 5,5km away from the city center and with only one runway in between bodies of water with intense winds, pilots have to be very precise with taking off and landing.

#4 Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport, Madeira, Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo is not just a legendary soccer player, the airport named after him is also a big challenge for pilots that are flying to this Portuguese island.

When this airport was created, it had a very small runway to land or take off. Thankfully, the airport has been expanded and now it has 2,781 meters (9,124 feet). This is double the original size when it was created, so you can imagine the challenge in the beginning. This short path is placed between cliffs and the ocean.

Moreover, what is also an extreme challenge is the crosswind coming from the Atlantic ocean because of its location.

#3 Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Martin

The Princess Juliana International Airport is one of the most dangerous airports in the world, but also, it’s one of the busiest airports as well. Sounds great, right?

To land or take off, pilots have to fly very close over a Caribbean beach full of sunbathers to end in an exciting runway of 2194 meters or 7200 feet (smaller than Cristiano Ronaldo Airport). For larger jets, Princess Juliana is in the limit for their size. 

#2 Courchevel Airport, France

Can you think about a runway smaller than the one in Saint Martin?

Voilà! This Airport in Courchevel, France, has just 537 meters or 1700 feet long with a downward gradient of 18,5%.

This is not a popular airport, however it’s an incredible airport made especially for skiers that want to risk their lives in the French Alps. As you can imagine, this airport is very far from the sea, to be precise it's 1981 meters or 6500 feet above the sea.

Clearly, this airport is in between high mountains and valleys and the weather is freezing cold. That’s why is not recommended to travel in bad weather because it’s considered an unsafe flight. On top of that, because of the mountains, the pilot has to find a determined angle to be able to land.

#1 Airport of Lukla, Nepal

This is, by excellence, the most challenging airport in the world to land. This airport was renamed Tenzing-Hillary Airport because the two people conquered Mount Everest for the first time.

Here’s a list of some special information about this airport.

  • This airport is at an altitude of 2438 meters or 8000 feet.
  • The weather is unpredictable, that’s why flights are only allowed in the mornings.
  • There is no modern air traffic control.
  • There can be huge winds that can decrease the visibility.
  • Only small planes and helicopters can land here.
  • In order to fly here, you need 10 successful flights to Lukla with a certified instructor.
  • If the pilot doesn’t see good conditions to land, they can decide to return.

This is an landing that could make any pilot sweat. There is plenty of stories about plane crashes in the most challenging airport in the world.

Have You Ever Landed At A Challenging Airport?

We want to learn about your experiences! Have you ever landed at a challenging or dangerous airport? Comment below if you have any story to share!

If you want to know more about the Most Challenging Airports to Land in the World, we highly suggest you watch this documentary.

Lastly, we definitely hope that before you ever have a challenging landing, you will be ready with the safest flight practice in your home flight simulator.

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