The Most Difficult Airport to Land at, Ranked

Choose the airport you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on May 25, 2024 06:29
Pilots worldwide face various challenges when landing at different airports, which can vary due to factors like weather conditions, runway length, and geographic location. A ranking of the most difficult airports to land at can provide flyers, enthusiasts, and professionals with insights into these unique challenges. This information may be particularly helpful for pilot training and preparation as well as for travelers who wish to learn more about the complexities of the flights they may encounter. By participating in the voting process, users contribute to a broader understanding of what constitutes a difficult airport landing zone from multiple perspectives. This communal input helps in building a comprehensive list that is reflective of the experiences and expert opinions of global users. Engaging in this process also allows participants to see how others view the same situations, enriching their own understanding and appreciation of aviation.

What Is the Most Difficult Airport to Land at?

  1. 1

    Madeira Airport

    Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport is notable for its runway extension on pillars, high winds, and a location that requires precision landings.
    • Elevation: 59 meters
    • Runway Length: 2,781 meters
  2. 2

    Paro Airport

    Located in Bhutan, Paro Airport is nestled among the steep mountains of the Himalayas, with only a few pilots certified to land on its single runway.
    • Elevation: 2,235 meters
    • Runway Length: 1,964 meters
  3. 3

    Lukla Airport

    Also known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport, this airport in Nepal serves as the gateway to Mount Everest and features a very short runway.
    • Elevation: 2,845 meters
    • Runway Length: 527 meters
  4. 4

    Courchevel Altiport

    Located in the French Alps, Courchevel's airport has a short runway with a gradient of 18.5%, making it one of the most challenging for pilots.
    • Elevation: 2,008 meters
    • Runway Length: 537 meters
  5. 5

    Princess Juliana International Airport

    Famous for its close beach landings, this airport in Saint Martin is challenging due to its short runway and proximity to popular beaches.
    • Elevation: 4 meters
    • Runway Length: 2,300 meters
  6. 6

    Gibraltar International Airport

    Known for its runway intersecting with a main road, Gibraltar's airport presents unique challenges, including strong crosswinds.
    • Elevation: 5 meters
    • Runway Length: 1,828 meters
  7. 7

    Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport

    Located on Saba Island, this airport has the world's shortest commercial runway, surrounded by cliffs on three sides.
    • Elevation: 18 meters
    • Runway Length: 400 meters
  8. 8

    Narsarsuaq Airport

    In Greenland, Narsarsuaq Airport is challenging due to severe weather conditions and its location in a fjord, surrounded by icebergs.
    • Elevation: 34 meters
    • Runway Length: 1,800 meters
  9. 9

    McMurdo Station Ice Runway

    Located in Antarctica, this unique runway is made of ice, making it one of the most extreme environments for pilots to land.
    • Elevation: 10 meters
    • Runway Length: Variable
  10. 10

    Toncontín International Airport

    In Honduras, Toncontín is known for its short runway and mountainous surroundings, requiring sharp turns upon approach.
    • Elevation: 1,005 meters
    • Runway Length: 2,163 meters

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult airport to land at. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or airport is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 0 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each airport once every 24 hours. The rank of each airport is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


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Additional Information

More about the Most Difficult Airport to Land at

Madeira Airport
Rank #1 for the most difficult airport to land at: Madeira Airport (Source)
Landing at an airport can be a challenge for pilots. Some airports are more difficult than others. Factors like weather, terrain, and runway length all play a role. Pilots must be ready for these challenges.

One factor is the weather. Some airports have frequent fog or strong winds. These conditions make it hard to see the runway. Pilots need to rely on their instruments and skills. They must stay calm and focused.

Terrain is another factor. Mountains or hills near an airport can create problems. Pilots have to navigate around these obstacles. They must follow specific flight paths. This requires precision and practice.

The length of the runway also matters. Short runways leave little room for error. Pilots must land at the correct speed and angle. They need to stop quickly after touching down. Long runways are more forgiving, but not always available.

Airports in busy cities can add to the difficulty. High traffic means more planes in the sky. Pilots must communicate with air traffic control. They need to follow instructions closely. Timing is crucial to avoid collisions.

Night landings can be harder too. Visibility drops in the dark. Pilots rely on runway lights and their instruments. They must trust their training and experience.

In some places, the approach path is tricky. Pilots may need to make sharp turns or steep descents. These maneuvers require skill and confidence. Pilots train for these situations, but real-life conditions vary.

Noise restrictions can also affect landings. Some airports have rules to reduce noise for nearby residents. Pilots must follow these rules, which can limit their options. They need to balance safety and compliance.

Pilots prepare for these challenges through training. Simulators help them practice difficult landings. They learn to handle various conditions and scenarios. Experience also plays a key role. Seasoned pilots have faced many situations and know how to respond.

Technology aids pilots, but human skill remains vital. Instruments provide data, but pilots make the decisions. They must interpret information and act quickly. Trust in their abilities and judgment is essential.

In summary, landing at a difficult airport involves many factors. Weather, terrain, runway length, and traffic all contribute. Pilots must be well-trained and experienced. They need to stay calm and focused. Their skills and judgment ensure a safe landing.

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