Most Dangerous Airports In Europe- Aviation is one of the most strictly governed businesses, making it one of the safest ways to travel. The European Union Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) makes sure that Europe’s airports all adhere to the same rigorous safety standards.
You may ask what are the most dangerous airports to land in Europe at moment, to answer that, Gibraltar Airport was rated to be the worst and most dangerous airport to land in Europe and double to be on the list of most dangerous airports in the world.
There are more than 800 airports in Europe that offer scheduled flights, with the majority being “category A” airports that need the same level of training for pilots and crew.
Airports in category B are those with “somewhat out of the ordinary” characteristics, and those in category C are the most extreme, requiring extensive specialized training for pilots.
Take a look at this list of some of Europe’s most infamous crash landings at airports:
12 Most Dangerous Airport In Europe [2023 Rating]
1. A rock and a road at Gibraltar
Gibraltar top the list of the most dangerous airport in Europe to land in our recent rating. Crossing the main road into and out of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is the airport’s runway. There are approximately fifteen times a day when traffic is paused to let planes land or take off.
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Due to the resulting traffic congestion, a new airport bypass was planned, which would feature a tunnel under the runway. However, this project has been beset by delays and is far from completion.
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The highway crossing is problematic, but it is hardly the most pressing concern for pilots. The famed Rock of Gibraltar can create abnormal wind effects, turbulence, and wind shear, which can make the final approach dangerous. When the wind is coming from the south, it is typical to make course corrections and go around.
As it made its final descent in February 2019, a British Airways Airbus A320 was filmed by numerous witnesses being brutally rocked by the strong winds. After making little progress, the pilots decided to abort the mission and instead fly to Malaga, which is located about 60 miles away in Spain.
2. Akureyri Airport (Akureyri, Iceland)
Akureyri is rated to be on the list of European most dangerous airports to land. Landing at Akureyri Airport requires extensive training on a flight simulator or prior familiarity with the airport’s conditions, neither of which is sufficient grounds for a pilot to land there.
Due to the area’s difficult topography, pilots will need to descend at a faster rate than they are used to. The island’s volcanic activity is only one of several obstacles; a steep descent into high mountains and navigating a narrow valley are other significant difficulties.
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3. The short runway of Skiathos
Landings at Saint Martin’s Princess Juliana Airport are notoriously short because they take place directly above a beach, earning the airport worldwide notoriety. However, the Greek island of Skiathos offers a comparable but less well-known experience. Planespotters come from all over the continent to visit the runway because of its convenient location near a beach and a public road.
Because of the rugged terrain, several islands in Greece have only very short, narrow runways. Skiathos’s only option for getting a runway was to recapture some territory from an adjacent island. The runway is just long enough, at 5,341 feet, to accommodate fully laden jets carrying vacationers.
Because pilots often utilize reverse power to slow the jet down as rapidly as possible after impact, landings can be a raucous affair. At the same time, departing flights from the island frequently have to take off with nearly empty fuel tanks to ensure they can get airborne in time. Leaving planes frequently make fueling stops in Thessaloniki, which is only minutes away.
All of these difficulties enlist this airport to be on the list of worst airports to land in Europe.
4. Landing on a beach at Barra
Runways at airports can often be used whenever flights are scheduled. Barra, a Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides, is an exception because planes can only land there during low tide. Because the airport runway is located right on the mile-long beach at Traigh Mhr bay.
Loganair, a Scottish airline, uses tiny Twin Otter planes to transport passengers between the beautiful airfield and Glasgow itself. Loganair frequently provides special day trip rates because of the airport’s popularity among planespotters.
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Both the peculiar and unpredictable sandy surface and the comparatively small length of the runway create a problem for pilots.
As a standard procedure, pilots will fly over the runway before touching down to determine the precise tide level and landing conditions.
5. Deep in a valley at Innsbruck
Innsbruck is surrounded by the stunning peaks of the Austrian Alps. In the winter, Europe’s summits draw planeloads of skiers, but in the air, they present one of the continent’s greatest obstacles. In fact, due to Innsbruck’s remote location in a valley, only pilots with a valid landing authorization are allowed to land aircraft there.
Maneuvering within the valley is difficult, and low-level wind shear can make things much more complicated.
Additionally, the pilot may need to perform a sharp turn on the final approach, depending on the direction of the wind. In addition, the airport is surrounded by high mountains, thus a missed approach is unlikely.
6. Navigation troubles at Svalbard
The runway at Svalbard, Norway, an archipelago in the Arctic, is an engineering marvel, as it is built on permafrost and insulated to avoid melting in the summer.
Svalbard is the world’s northernmost airport with regularly scheduled flights, and while the runway there is generally safe, the general location can be troublesome.
Flight vision and navigation can be compromised by bad weather and the area’s proximity to the magnetic north pole.
In 1996, this location was the scene of Norway’s greatest air disaster.
More than two miles off its approach centerline, a flight destined for Longyearbyen slammed into a mountain, killing all 141 people on board. The investigation concluded that the incident occurred due to pilot negligence.
7. A windy approach to Madeira
Despite appearances, the spectacular runway bridge at Madeira’s Cristiano Ronaldo Airport (previously known as Funchal) has increased safety.
Even seasoned pilots find the approach to the Portuguese island challenging, as they must complete specialized training in order to land here. In severe winds, they have to first cross the mountainous massif of the exposed coast before they can even begin to align with the little runway.
There has only been one fatal accident in Madeira despite the challenging approach. When TAP Flight 425’s Boeing 727 overshot the end of the runway and crashed onto the beach below in 1977, 131 of the 164 persons on board were killed. The runway extension bridge was a direct result of the incident.
8. Courchevel Airport (Courchevel, France)
Courchevel Airport, located at an altitude of 2,010 meters, features Europe’s highest tarmacked runway, albeit a somewhat short one at just 537 meters in length. Because of security concerns, only turboprop planes are allowed to land there.
Fewer than one hundred pilots hold the “Qualification of Sight” license necessary to land at this airport. A steep fall across mountainous terrain is required before the pilot can reach the uphill grade of the runway.
9. Heathrow Airport (Longford, U.K.)
Pilots at Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, must deal with a lot of air and ground traffic.
Despite being built with business aviation in mind, subsequent infrastructural improvements have resulted in an increase of neighboring skyscrapers, making landing at London City Airport more challenging.
The airport can handle planes as large as regional jets, and takeoffs and landings must be executed at an angle of five degrees, far steeper than the European norm of three degrees. There is a need for unique certification and aircraft setup.
10. Svalbard Airport, Longyear (Svalbard, Norway)
On a Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean sits Svalbard Airport, the world’s northernmost commercial airport. Having to land there is tricky because of the surrounding steep terrain.
Extremely hazardous phenomena include gusty winds and wet runways brought on by the winter season. Therefore, certain protocols must be followed, and certain constraints must be taken into account.
11. Ataturk Airport (Istanbul, Turkey)
The number of planes departing from Ataturk Airport has skyrocketed in recent years, but airport infrastructure and air traffic control have not kept pace.
Due to crossing arrivals, it presents several difficult flying conditions, including unusual descent angles and an unusual go-around method.
12. Airports in the Greek Islands
During the summer months, several Greek island airports see an influx of vacationers. Even though occasionally the weather can be fairly severe, including crosswinds, turbulence, and thunderstorms, most of them are not equipped with precision navigation devices.
What Is Europe’s Most Dangerous Airport?
The most dangerous airport in Europe is Gibraltar Airport. Although it goes by a few other names, Gibraltar Airport (also known as North Front Airport) has a reputation for being Europe’s most dangerous airport. The airport’s runway passes directly through the heart of Gibraltar, about 500 meters away.
Which Is The Most Dangerous Airport Landing?
The most dangerous airport landing is the Lukla airport. We had to deal with mountains, wind, and a very limited runway. Everything you need can be found in Lukla. The airport serving as the main entry point to Everest is situated in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, and its runway is built on a cliffside between mountains, with the final 1,729 feet plummeting straight into a chasm.
Landing an airplane is one of the most difficult aspects of a pilot’s job. And not everyone in the world has ideal weather conditions for an airport. European airports rank among the most difficult in the world, and we’ve highlighted 12 of the worst.