22 Most Challenging Runways in the World


Did You Know which runways are the most challenging in the world? Here is a list of 22 most extreme airports.

1. Barra Airport, in the Hebrides of the West Coast of Scotland

The airport is unique by being the only one of the few in the world where scheduled flights use a beach as the runway. Only daytime flights are allowed.

2. Chubu Centrair International Airport in Tokoname, Japan

Airport is surrounded by water and that makes it difficult to land.

3. Congonhas Airport in the middle of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Located in the middle of Sao Paulo, Brazil airport is highly challenging for pilots.

4. Copalis State Airport’s (Grays Harbor County, Washington)

Beach airport. runway is located between the Copalis River delta and a barrier of rocks. It is the only airport in Washington State where landing on the beach is legal.

5. Courchevel Airport (France)

The mountain runway serving a ski resort in the French Alps is just 545 meters long. As if that’s not scary enough, it’s also got a gradient of 18.5% and a vertical drop at the end. There is no go-around procedure for landings at Courchevel, due to the surrounding mountainous terrain. The runway has no instrument approach procedure or lighting aids, thus making landing in fog and low clouds unsafe and almost impossible.

6. Gibraltar Airport, Spain

The airport is located between a bustling city and a crashtastic mountain. Moreover, its 1800 meters long (short) runway intersects the Winston Churchill Avenue, Gibraltar’s busiest road, which has to be closed every time a plane lands or departs.

7. Gustaf III Airport aka Saint Barthélemy Airport on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy

The short airstrip is at the base of a gentle slope ending directly on the beach. The arrival descent is extremely steep over the hilltop traffic circle. Departing planes fly right over the heads of sunbathers.

8. Kai Tak International Airport, Hong Kong

With numerous skyscrapers and mountains located to the north and its only runway jutting out into Victoria Harbour, landings at the airport were dramatic to experience and technically demanding for pilots. heart-stopping approach low over Hong Kong forced airport to end its 73-year reign of terror in 1998.

9. Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan

Approaching the runaway feels like your pilot is about to land on water.

10. Madeira Airport (Portugal)

The airport was once infamous for its short runway which, surrounded by high mountains and the ocean, made it a tricky landing for even the most experienced of pilots. It is still considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

11. Matekane Air Strip in Lesotho (Africa)

Runway that extends to the edge of a 600 meters cliff is often used by charity organizations and doctors to access remote villages in the area, and is labeled as having one of the world’s scariest runways.

12. Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland

Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland. Severe turbulences and winds from the surrounding fjords make this airport a hard task for pilots. Only daytime take-offs and landings allowed, thankfully. It is one of two airports in Greenland capable of serving large airliners and the only international airport in southern Greenland.

13. Paro International Airport, Bhutan.

The airport is located 6 km from Paro in a deep valley on the bank of the river Paro Chhu. With surrounding peaks as high as 5,500 meters it is considered one of the world’s most challenging airports. As of October 2009 only eight pilots in the world were certified to land at the airport.

14. Pegasus White Ice Runway, Antarctica

It is the southernmost of three airfields serving McMurdo Station. Believe it or not, aircraft take off and land here all year long. Pegasus is a blue ice runway capable of handling wheeled aircraft year-round. The other two are the snow runways at Williams Field and the Ice Runway on the sea-ice available during the summer Antarctic field season. They are limited to ski-equipped aircraft only.

15. Princess Juliana International Airport (St. Maarten)

The airport is perhaps best known for very low-altitude flyover landing approaches due to one end of its runway being extremely close to the shore and Maho Beach.

16. Quito’s high-altitude airport

A densely populated neighborhood, a cramped runway, active volcanoes, and frequent fog make Quito’s high-altitude airport a threat for only a little longer; Ecuador’s main airport is going to be moved to an agricultural setting 12 miles (20km) northeast of the city.

17. Svalbard Airport in Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard in the Barents Sea

The airport was built upon a layer of permafrost in 1975. Continuous repaving makes it a hard landing place, literally and figuratively. It is the northernmost airport in the world with public scheduled flights.

18. The Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Lukla, Nepal)

The Airport is located 2860 meters above sea level, and its runway is only a few hundred meters long (527m). The airport is popular because Lukla is the place where most people start the climb to Mount Everest Base Camp. Although the flying distance is short, rain commonly occurs in Lukla while the sun is shining brightly in Kathmandu. High winds, cloud cover, and changing visibility often mean flights can be delayed or the airport closed.

19. Toncontín International Airport, Honduras

The airport has an extremely short runway—and a mountainous surrounding—in Honduras. The approach to the airport is considered to be one of the most difficult in the world to all aircraft, especially in inclement weather conditions.

20. Toronto Islands Airport (Ontairo, Canada)

The airport is another pinpoint landing site. And there’s a nude beach close to the runway which isn’t the least bit distracting.

21. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba, Caribbean

This Caribbean landing site is surrounded by high hills, and both ends of the runway drop into the sea. It also has the shortest commercial runway in the world only 396 meters long.

22. Wellington Airport, New Zealand

The airport has a reputation for sometimes rough and turbulent landings, even in larger aircraft, due to the channelling effect of Cook Strait creating strong and gusty winds, especially in pre frontal north westerly conditions.

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