What makes Lukla airport the most dangerous in the world?
A little village at the base of Mount Everest, Lukla in eastern Nepal, is home to Airport Lukla. The “Runway on the Top of the World” is the name of Lukla Airport in Nepal, which tops the list of the ten most hazardous airports in the world. It earned such a moniker as a result of the difficult landing circumstances that exist there.
Nepal is home to some of the most extreme airports in the world, with challenging terrain and unpredictable weather making landings and takeoffs a real adventure. Helicopters and small fixed-wing planes are the preferred modes of transport for many travelers looking to reach remote areas, such as the town of Lukla in the Everest region, which has a notoriously short and steep runway.
In fact, Lukla is often referred to as one of the 100 short takeoffs and landing (STOL) airports in the world. Despite the challenges, many pilots relish the opportunity to navigate these extreme airports and broadcast their experiences to aviation enthusiasts around the world. From the bustling city of Kathmandu to the remote peaks of the Himalayas, Nepal offers a thrilling aviation experience unlike any other.
Due to its status as the beginning point for hikes to Mount Everest Base Camp, the airport enjoys a high level of popularity. When the weather is fair, there are flights between Lukla and Kathmandu every day during the day. Even though Lukla is only a short flight away, it regularly rains there when it’s bright in Kathmandu.
The airport Lukla is near the entrance to Mount Everest in Nepal’s Himalayas. It is sometimes referred to as the world’s most hazardous airport. It features a 1,729-foot runway that ends abruptly in an abyss. Moreover, it’s even inclined upward to aid in the slowing of aircraft.
Also, there is no room for go-arounds; if a plane is in terminal descent, it must land. Even so, the descent offers stunning vistas of the mountains.
Moreover, it’s even inclined upward to aid in the slowing of aircraft. Also, there is no room for go-arounds; if a plane is in terminal descent, it must land. Even so, the descent offers stunning vistas of the mountains.
Lukla airport or officially named Tenzing-Hillary Airport was built in 1964 AD under the guidance of Sir Edmund Hillary.
What are the hazards at the Lukla airport?
This small airport has a short and steep runway, making plane landings and takeoffs a hair-raising experience for both pilots and passengers alike. Despite the risks, the airport remains a vital link for travelers and trekkers heading to the Everest region, and the CAAN works tirelessly to maintain the safety and efficiency of this important transport hub.
Lukla airport or officially named Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Nepal has not one but almost all the possible hazards that pilots might experience while operating in the airport. Here are the major difficulties of this airport that make it one of the most dangerous airports in the world;
Lukla airport is not the highest civilian airport in the world (that distinction belongs to Daocheng Yading Airport in Sichuan Province, China). However, Lukla’s elevation is nevertheless more than enough to provide difficulties for pilots.
Mountainous, rugged terrain encircles the airport on all sides. Just a mountain ledge serves as a base for the narrow runway. The valley below is reached by a precipitous drop at one end and a wall at the other. Air density is significantly lower at high altitudes than it is at sea level, which negatively affects the power output of the aircraft engines and lowers the lift.
However, the runway at Lukla Airport is quite small, measuring only 1,729 feet. Several international airports throughout the world have runways that are longer than 10,000 feet. Since Lukla’s runway is so short, it slopes upward with a nearly 12% gradient to help planes slow down in time. Due to these conditions, only small fixed-wing propeller aircraft and helicopters are allowed to land.
The Himalayan region has extremely erratic weather. There is always a chance of sudden mist, fog, rain, or snow. Despite the close proximity and brief flight, the weather in Lukla can regularly differ significantly from that in Kathmandu and can even change while the aircraft is in flight. In such cases, planes do a U-turn and head back to Kathmandu.
The weather at Lukla has a big influence on the flights. At the entrance to the Everest area, Lukla is perfectly (or weirdly) perched on a hilltop, surrounded on three sides by mountains. In the highlands, the mornings are clear, but through the afternoon, a tailwind gradually increases. Lukla flights are only planned in the mornings as a result.
An average length of an airport runway is between 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) to 13,000 feet, about (3,962 meters). In Lukla airport, the length of the runway is 527 m (1,729 ft) × 30 m (98 ft). On one side of the runway lies a cliff and on the other side lies a hill.
Thus, applying the brakes quickly is essential due to the sheer mountain wall at the landing end of the runway. And if the plane doesn’t get off the ground during takeoff, it will go down the slope instead. That makes the landing even more difficult and risky.
This airport lighting installation faced several difficulties because of the unpredictable Himalayan weather. Due to the erratic nature of the mountain’s weather, this included the necessity for illumination that could last for days without recharging.
Due to these criteria, a fixture with exceptional durability was also required to withstand the icy conditions. In addition to operating from nightfall till morning, the installed lighting system also required it to function in bad weather.
It is the hardest runway to land at. Only extremely tiny airplanes and helicopters are able to navigate the airstrip’s solitary approach path across the windy valley it overlooks.
Apart from these, here’s a list of other difficulties at Lukla airport;
- Because of the unpredictability of the weather, only early flights are permitted.
- Modern air traffic control does not exist.
- Only helicopters and light aircraft may land here.
- You need 10 profitable flights to Lukla with a licensed instructor before you may fly here.
- The elevation of this airport is 2438 meters or 8000 feet.
- The pilot has the option of returning if the landing conditions are not favorable.
- The geology of the airport’s location, together with elements like a relatively short runway and little energy, make it one of the most hazardous airports in the world.
- Modern technologies including radar systems and airplane navigation are also lacking at Lukla Airport. Pilots perform takeoff and landing operations visually. And in accordance with the Visibility Flight Regulations, the flight must suddenly end if the visibility is low (VFR).
When is the safest time to fly to Lukla airport?
While being accessible in any weather, Lukla Airport’s weather quickly gets worse because of its elevated mountain elevation. Due to clear skies and minimal wind interference, the majority of flights are planned during the early morning hours.
The greatest times to go on Everest expeditions, treks, climbs, and treks, including the most well-known Everest Base Camp Trek, are in the spring and fall when the weather is generally steady and pleasant.
The likelihood of precipitation increases as summer approaches around the end of May, and the sky may get gloomy. By the end of June, it starts raining heavily and with thunderstorms. The monsoon then begins and lasts until early September in Lukla and Kathmandu. Because of this, this is the time when flight cancellations are most likely to occur.
Mid-September is usually when the rain starts to diminish, and October is when visibility is at its best. The flights then start operating constantly in October. Due to the high pressure, the pre-winter and winter months of November to February also feature a bright sky and excellent visibility. Although there is a minimal likelihood of cancellation in November and December, delays and cancellations are possible in January and February due to snow in Lukla and fog in Kathmandu.
Worst crashes in Lukla airport.
In 2008, Yeti Airlines Flight 103 collided with a mountain when its pilot lost sight of the runway in dense fog. This was the first fatal event of note. The pilot was the lone survivor; the other two members of the crew and all 16 passengers perished.
However, After 11 years in operation, the first accident at Lukla Airport occurred on October 15, 1973. The three Royal Nepal Airlines crew members and the passengers escaped unscathed, but this event began a stormy series of catastrophic incidents at Lukla.
The most recent incident occurred on April 14, 2019, when a Summit Air Let L-410 Turbolet aircraft collided with a parked helicopter. There were no passengers on board, but the co-pilot and two police officers who were in charge of security were slain.
The beauty despite its hazards
Notwithstanding its difficulties, Lukla Airport serves as a crucial lifeline for the inhabitants of Khumbu in the trans-Himalayan area. It enables them to bring in goods and visitors, both of which are vital for regional economic growth.
One of the most gorgeous destinations in Nepal is the Lukla Airport. There are trees all around and lie in the highlands. Awe-inspiring beauty is everywhere around the airport. There are several forested regions and extremely lofty mountains.
The airport is a great place to start your hiking or climbing experience and escape the rush and bustle of city life. If you’re looking for somewhere to unwind and take in the scenery, Lukla Airport is the ideal location.
Lukla Airport is the most beautiful airport in Nepal. Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Lukla Airport), is the primary entry point for hikers visiting Mount Everest Base Camp and is perhaps more notorious for being one of the world’s most hazardous airports. Awe-inspiring scenery surrounds the airport, which is elevated at 9,334 feet. It is bordered by gorgeous mountains with snow-capped summits that are frequently cloaked in clouds.
The highlight of the hike itself is the breathtaking flight over the majestic, snow-capped Himalayas. At the base of Mount Everest, in the Lukla village, stands the airport.
Similarly, the vista is nothing short of breathtaking if the weather is clear. Mt. Everest may be visible as you make your final approach to Lukla Airport if you’re really lucky.
Since it serves as the beginning point for hikes to Mount Everest Base Camp, the airport is well-known. Everyone goes via Lukla, the entrance to the Everest region, on their trip to Mount Everest or other nearby vantage points. The gateway to the Everest area lies in Lukla.
How safe is Lukla airport?
Nepal’s busiest STOL airport is Lukla Airport. There are often 30 flights each day during the busiest times. The pilots must have at least 100 STOL missions under their belts, and over a year of experience flying into Nepali STOL sectors.
And 10 flights to Lukla with an instructor pilot who has a license. The Lukla flight crews are pilots with a lot of experience.
The runway at Lukla Airport has a similar approach lighting system installed. The accident ratio is still relatively low at Lukla Airport. despite the fact that there are more issues there than at other airports, making flying there widely regarded as being quite safe.
Avlite has contributed to making Lukla Airport safer by providing high-quality illumination that enables pilots to fly around popular tourist destinations safely. The aircraft lights from Avlite are lightweight, strong, and use little electricity. The solution includes the AV-426, which features RF operation and makes it easy to turn the system on. It is the finest answer to this specific need set.
To further increase safety, the airport has taken additional precautions. It is strictly prohibited to land in inclement weather. At Lukla Airport, the approach lighting system has been erected on the runway.
While there are more mishaps at Lukla airport than at other airports. Overall, there are extremely few accidents, therefore flying there is quite safe. The Lukla flight pilots are among the best.
Each year, thousands of passengers arrive and go without incident from Lukla airport. Knowing that should help you feel a little more at ease about the flight. A certain amount of risk comes with flying. You must be conscious of and willing to take that risk if you are taking this specific trip.
In conclusion, Tenzing-Hillary Airport is popular as Lukla airport is a domestic airport in Nepal. It is the riskiest airport in the whole globe. Due to its status as the beginning point for hikes to Mount Everest Base Camp, the airport enjoys a high level of popularity. The high altitude, poor visibility, short runway length, and lack of technology are some of the few difficulties that pilots face at Lukla airport.
However, it is the most beautiful airport in Nepal and also the third most beautiful in the world. It is the gateway to mount Everest as the trek to mount Everest starts from Lukla itself. Each year, thousands of passengers arrive and go without incident from Lukla airport. Knowing that should help tourists feel a little more at ease about the flight.
Moreover, there are more mishaps at Lukla airport than at other airports. There are extremely few accidents, therefore flying there is generally quite safe.
The Lukla flight pilots are among the best, and that brings us to the end. A certain amount of risk comes with flying. You must be conscious of and willing to take that risk if you are taking this specific trip.