Air travel can be a terrifying prospect. There are a whole number of accidents that can happen, especially during take-off and landing. Here, in no particular order, are ten of the most dangerous airports in the world. Avoid flying to and from these destinations if you want a smooth ride!
Toncontin International- also known as Teniente Coronel Hernana Acosta Mejia Airport- is a civil and military airport lying 6km from the city center of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Toncontin has a short runway, and it located in mountainous terrain. It is these features- especially in bad weather- that earned this airport the number two spot on the history channel’s Most Extreme Airports.
- TACA Flight 390 is a notorious incident. Scheduled to fly on May 30th, 2008, the Airbus A320-233 did not quite make the landing at Toncontin. Instead, the plane overran the short runway, went in to the street and crashed in to an embankment after crashing in to several cars.
- 5 fatalities, 65 injuries, 121 survivors
GIBRALATAR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Gibraltar Airport is another airport famous for it’s dangerous conditions. This airport was named as one of the ‘World’s Scariest Airport Landings and Take-offs’ in the Daily Telegraph, 2012.
To begin with, a road runs right through the middle of the runway. On busy days, up to seven flights can now arrive and depart from this runway. The road is closed for an average of ten minutes to accommodate landing or take-off. In addition to having a road in a runway, there is also a runway extending in to the sea. Furthermore, the weather creates havoc conditions for this airport. As the sea is on either side, the airport is sat at the foot of the mountains. Planes in flight can be caught in the crosswinds caused by the location of Gibraltar International.
- July 4th, 1943, 23:07- a B-24 LIberator 11 crashed in to the sea 16 seconds after take-off. All eleven passengers and five of the six crew died. The crash has been ruled as an accident, however, due to the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army and Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile being among those on board there are several conspiracy theories.
LUKLA HIMALAYAS, NEPAL/ TENZING-HILLARY
Lukla airport is 9000ft above the ground, making it one of the world’s highest airports. Additionally, it also has one of the world’s shortest runways, at just 1600 feet in length. If you do not make the runway, the drop off the edge is 2000ft in to a valley.
As Lukla is so dangerous, only a small number of pilots are permitted to fly there. The dramatic weather, and difficult landing and take-off approach make this airport a nightmare for any pilot. Therefore, if you do fly to Lukla you will be flying with a highly skilled and very experience crew.
- May 25th, 2004. A Yeti Airlines DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 300 crashed into Lamajura Hill in heavy clouds. There were no passengers on board this plane, however all three crew members died.
- October 8th, 2008. Yeti Airlines DHC-6 Twin Otter crashed on final approach and caught fire. Only the captain survived. All other eighteen passengers and crew were killed.
- August 25th, 2010. Agni Air Flight 101, Dornier Do 228, crashed at Shikarpur while returning to Kathmandu after bad weather had prevented it from reaching Lukla. Everyone on board died- all eleven passengers and three crew.
QAMDO BAMDA AIRPORT, TIBET
Qamdo airport was formely the highest airport in the world. It stands at 14,219 ft above sea level. Visitors are warned that they may feel light headed or dizzy on landing due to the thin air at this level. Qamdo also has the longest publicly used runway in the world. The runway is 5.5km. This is a necessary feature, as at such a high altitude there is a reduction in engine and lift performance of the aircraft.
None as of yet
OLD MARISCAL SUCRE INTERNATIONAL, ECUADOR
An expansion was proposed at Old Mariscal Sucre, however, due to it’s location it would not be possible. This airport stands in the middle of a city, surrounded by mountains, and has seen several accidents.
- November 7th, 1960. An AREA Ecuador Fairchild F-27 crashed into a mountain 16 km south of Quito during its approach. Thirty seven passengers and crew were killed.
- April 29th, 1982. Lockheed C-130 Hercules crashed into a mountain near Quito. Seven were killed.
- September 18th, 1984. A AECA Douglas DC-8-50 did not achieve altitude during take-off. It ran off the end of the runway, crashed into a residential area 1,510ft past the runway. 25 houses were destroyed, all four crew died and forty-nine people on the ground were killed.
- June 3rd, 1988. A North American Sabreliner 40 flew in to a mountain just outside of Quito. All eleven people on board were killed.
- December 10th, 1992. A North American Sabreliner 60 clipped a ten story building 3km south of the airport. The plane crashed in to a residential area. All ten people on board were killed, as well as three on the ground.
- August 29th, 1998. A Cubana de Aviaicion Tupolven tu-154M overshot the runway. All fourteen crew, fifty-six of seventy-seven passengers and ten on the ground were killed.
- March 19th, 2009. An Ecuadorian Air Force Beechcraft B200 King Air hit a building in Quito in heavy fog. All five on board were killed, and two on the ground.
NARASARUAQ AIRPORT, GREENLAND
This airport is approached through a fjord. Therefore you have to make a ninety degree turn to line up with the runway. With severe turbulence at all times, this is a very dangerous airport. There is also the risk of icebergs. Unless pilots have five miles of visibility they are advised not to attempt approaching Narasaruaq.
- May 13th, 1957. DC-4 freight aircraft hit an icecap on approach to Narsarsuaq. Two of the three on board were killed.
- August 5th, 2001. Dassault Falcon 20C freight aircraft crashed on approach. It was approaching Narsarsuaq for a fuel stop. Three were killed.
LAX; LOS ANGELES
Los Angeles International Aiport is one of the busiest in the US, and is ranked as one of the most dangerous, according to Travel and Leisure magazine. Due to it’s high amount of incidents and accidents it was named as the third most dangerous in the USA.
- January 23rd, 1939. Prototype Douglas 7B lossed a vertical fin during a demonstration and spun in to the park lot of North America Aviation, on fire. The test pilot jumped out at 300ft but was killed on impact with the ground, flight engineer died in the crash.
- October 26th, 1944. North American P-51D Mustang departed LAX with a sole pilot, flying in to wind and fog. She was expected at Palm Springs that night but never arrived. She was never found.
- January 13th, 1969. Scandinavian Airlines DC-8-62 crashed in to Santa Monica Bay, 11km west of LAX. Three of the nine crew drowned, as well as twelve of the thirty-six passengers.
- January 18th, 1969. United Airlines Boeing 727-200 crashed into Santa Monica Bay. The aircraft was destroyed, and all thirty-two passengers and six crew died.
- June 6th, 1971. A Douglas DC-9 jetliner was struck by a Marine Corps fighter jet nine minutes after take-off from LAX. All forty-four passengers and five crew were killed, one of the two on the military jet was killed.
- August 6th, 1974. A car bomb exploded in Terminal 2. Three were killed, thirty-five injured.
- March 1st, 1978. Tires burst on a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 during take-off. After aborting take-off, some spilt fuel ignited and the plane was being swallowed by flames. During emergency evacuation, and husband and wife died when the dropped directly in to the flames. Two other passengers died of injuries three months after the accident. Seventy-four were injured, as were eleven firemen.
- March 10th, 1979. Swift Aire Nord 262A-33 had to ditch in Santa Monica Bay after engine problems following take-off from LAX. The pilot, co-pilot and one passenger drowned as they were unable to exit the plane after ditching.
- August 31st, 1986. Aeromexico DC-9 collided with a Piper Cherokee when descending in to LAX. the DC-9 crashed into a residential neighborhood. All sixty-seven on both planes were killed. Fifteen on the ground were killed. Five homes destroyed and seven damaged.
- February 1st, 1991. USAir Boeing 737-300 collided on touchdown with a SkyWest Airlines Fairchild Metroliner. All twelve of the SkyWest plane and twenty-two aboard the USAir were killed.
- September 11th, 2001. Three of the hijacked aircraft were scheduled services to LAX.
- July 4th, 2002. Hesham Mohamed Hadayet killed two Israelis at the ticket counter of El Al Airlines in LAX. Although the gunman was not linked to any terrorist group, the man was upset at U.S. support for Israel, and therefore was motivated by political disagreement.
- November 1st, 2013. A lone gunman entered Terminal 3 and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. He killed a TSA officer and wounded three other people.
PARO AIRPORT, BHUTAN
Paro Airport is Bhutan’s only international airport. Due to it’s location, it is considered one of the most challenging airports in the world. The airport is located in a deep valley on a river bank. The surrounding peaks can be as high as 18,000 ft. This mountainside is also scattered with dozens of houses. Only eight pilots in the world are certified to land at Paro Airport.
- None as of yet
CONGONHAS AIRPORT, BRAZIL
Congonhas Airport is 8km from the center of downtown Sao Paulo. The city has now engulfed the airport. It is rumored that pilots need strong alcoholic drinks after their flights to and from Sao Paulo to calm their nerves. The airport has been troubled by slippery runways and has had several accidents where water accumulation has been the main cause. Although the main runway had been repaved in June 2007, its new rainwater drainage grooves were only finished in September 2007.
- August 18th, 1941. A Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar crashed on the Cantareira mountain range. Eight of the thirteen people on board died.
- September 28th, 1942. A Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar crashed on the Pedra Branca. All fifteen on board died.
- August 31st, 1944. A Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar crashed on approach to Congonhas under heavy fog. All sixteen on board died.
- March 13th, 1948. A Cruzerio do Sul Douglas C-53D-Do crashed on Cantareira mountain range. All six on board died.
- August 2nd, 1949. A Varig Curtiss C-46AD-10-CU from Congonhas to Porto Alere made an emergency landing on rough terrain near Jaquirana. This was because of a fire in the cargo hold. Five of the thirty-six on board died.
- December 12th, 1949. A Real Douglas C-47-DL from Congonhas to Jacarezinho crashed into a mountain in Riberiao Claro while flying in bad weather and with faulty equipment. Eighteen of the twenty on board died.
- September 8th, 1951. A VASP Douglas C-47B-20-DK hit a house after take-off and crashed. Thirteen on board and three on the ground died.
- May 13th, 1952. A VASP Douglas C-47B-45-DK lost control following engine failure.Two crew and three passengers died.
- June 17th, 1953. Panair do Brasil Lockheed L-049 crashed on final approach to Congonhas. This was caused by night operations with little visibility. All seventeen on board died.
- June 4th, 1954. A Varig Curtiss C-46A-45-CU Commando cargo flight crashed during take-off. All three crew died.
- April 10th, 1957. A Transportes Aereos Nacional Douglas DC-3/C-47 crashed in to a mountain over Ubatuba. An engine caught fire, forcing an emergency descent for Ubatuba. Due to bad weather they noticed the peak too late. Twenty-seven of the thirty on board died.
- September 23rd, 1959. A VASP Saab Scandia 90A-1 did not gain enough height during take-off and crashed one and a half minutes out of Sao Paulo, killing all twenty on board.
- November 26th, 1962. A VASP Saab Scandia 90A-1 collided with a Cessna 310 over Paraibuna, Sao Paulo. All twenty-three of the Saab and four of the Cessna died.
- January 15th, 1963. A Cruzerio do Sul Convair 240-D crashed into houses when approached Congonhas after an engine failed. Six (of forty-five) on board and six on the ground were killed.
- May 3rd, 1963. A Cruzerio do Sul Convair 340-59 had to return after take-off from Congonhas after no. 2 engine caught fire. On touch down the aircraft struck a house. Thirty-seven of the fifty on board died.
- April 12th, 1972. A VASP NAMC YS-11A-211 from Congonhas flew into the side of a mountain 50km north of Rio de Janerio due to a pilot mistake. All twenty-five on board died.
- February 27th, 1975. A VASP Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante crashed after take-off. All fifteen on board died.
- October 31st, 1996. A TAM Airlines Fokker 100 crashed on an urban area during take-off and struck a buliding. All ninety-five on board and four on the ground died.
- July 17th, 2007. A TAM Airlines Airbus A320 overrant the runway while landing at Congonhas and impacted with the TAM Express warehouse. All one-hundred and eighty-seven on board died. One-hundred and ninety-nine bodies were recovered from the crash- including passengers, crew and warehouse workers.
DON MUEANG INTERNATIONAL, THAILAND
Don Mueang may look like any other airport from a distance, however, there is an eighteen hole golf course running right through the middle of two runways.
Yet this is not their main problem. Schreckengast, who is a consultant at the airport, says the major problem is that the only taxiways are at the end of the runways. “We recommended that they build an additional taxiway in the middle, from side to side, and they said ‘absolutely not, that will take out a green and one fairway.'” The airport and the course were originally an all-military operation, but have since opened up to commercial traffic.
- December 25th, 1976. An EgyptAir Boeing 707-300, Bangkok-Cairo, crashed into an industrial area near the airport during an attempted landing. All fifty-three on board were killed.
- April 27th, 1980. Thai Airways BAe 748 lost altitude during a thunderstorm and crashed 13 km from Bangkok. All four crew and forty of forty-nine passengers were killed.
- November 29th, 1987. Korean Air Flight 858 from Baghadad-Abu Dhabi- Don Mueang-Seoul exploded over the Andaman Sea after a bomb planted by North Korean agents exploded. Everyone on board was killed.
- September 9th, 1988. Vietnam Airlines Flight 831 crashed while approaching Don Mueang. Seventy-six of the ninety on board died.
- May 26th, 1991. Lauda Air Flight 004 suffered an in-flight deployment of the thrust reverser on no. 1 engine after take off from Don Mueang. All two-hundred and thirteen passengers and ten crew were killed.