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Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 6:47 am

Ever gone to an airport and thought its location, design, or features is a disaster waiting to happen?

Most airports are bursting at the seems, but one in particular which I feel is a danger would have to be LGA. Short crossing runways with no room for error. Plus very little room near terminals to taxi. Planes often are "shooting the gap" as they like to call it when one plane is landing as another is crossing its path on take off. I read in June of a near miss between a US Airways Shuttle A320 and a king Air that came 100 feet from disaster at the intersection. Something drastic needs to be done to LGA before a terrible accident happens.

Now its your turn, any airport will do including private.

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 6:51 am

San Diego has a parking garage at the end of its short single runway. Makes the 747 approaches kind of harry.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 6:56 am

It also has a hill (in a region known as Point Loma) in front of the takeoff path. This prevents most jumbos from doing nonstop intercontinental flights. I would think that if a plane had trouble getting airborne and climbing and aborting was not a possibility than something bad would happen to the people on it as well as the residents on that heavily populated hill. I am going to be pretty nervous in about a week when I go on a 744 SAN-PHX-LGW!!

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 6:58 am

I agree with Drerx7. Watching that BA 747-400 on approach to SAN can be scary. One time I was renting a car from Dollar, who's facility is right underneath the flight path at the foot of the runway, and WOW! If I would have had a stone I could have easily have thrown it up into the air and pegged that plane.

I read somewhere that BUR's runway is too close to the terminal building, and that the FAA has been fining the airport authority there for years because of it. It is perilously close.

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 7:11 am

DCA is a nightmare approaching from the north. Upon approach flying down the Potomac River. You first bank hard right to avoid VP Gore's homestead...then as you proceed you bank hard left to avoid the city of Rosslyn.....then as you fly over historic Georgetown you get close to White House space and bank very hard right......YOU LAND FROM THAT BANK!!!! onto a very very short runway that has the Potomac on each end. During my years at DCA... I witnessed 3 planes overshoot the runway into the mud....I've also witnessed many, many flyby's.....the planes that could not straighten out from that last hiddeous bank.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 7:48 am

Those runways all intersect each other and sometimes pilots have to land and stop before coliding into a departing aircraft.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 9:14 am

Tritanic, your right landing at DCA from the North is very unusual. Down right dangerous in poor weather.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 10:34 am

JNU is a pretty difficult airport from what i hear. There is lots of terrain that makes approach and departing hairy. Add some wx into the mix and i imagine that there is not much room for error.

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 10:36 am

at LGW,there is an accident waiting to happen on the ramp and gate space! the ramp/tarmac/stair stands are always filled with aircraft and busses moving which way.I am suprised that LGW has not had a crash on that area!! especially with so many wide-bodies! there definately needs to be an expansion there. at DAL(love field) the if you are right by the airport,you could throw a stone and it would hit the plane, the runways are right at the edge of the airport and I am surprised how the F-100's,DC-9's and 737's land! I mean they have to avoid the fence then drop like 10 feet in a second to land,otherwise,they will run out of runway!
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 11:43 am

DCA is a challenging approach, but I dont believe it to be as drastic as many many make it out to be... The Notrth approach is challenging because of the very last minute of the flight before landing, the pilot must avoid white house airspace, and some high rise buildings, and then do a right bank turn into DCA right before landing... Sort of a MINI MINI Kai Tak....I have flown to from DCA on that approach many times and never had a problem...I think that the most dangerous airport must be LAX, SFO...anything in CA because of those noise abatements, which require pilots to lower thrust on the plane soon after take off...
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 11:45 am

I totally agree that LGA is way to dangerous. Whenever I fly into LGA, for the most part is on US Airways Express Flights (via ALB). I also feel that since their runway is positioned on a peir, a plane (I hate to say it) will sooner or later end up in the water. 
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Thu Jul 13, 2000 12:14 pm

Unfortunately, planes ending up in the water at LGA has happened several times. The last time I remember was a USAir flight that couldn't lift off in time.

As for dangerous approaches, in Hong Kong the old Kai Tak Airport approach flying near the steep hills of Kowloon and then avoiding that ramshackle "Walled City" during the final banked turn can be potentially extremely dangerous. It is an amazement testament to proper approach design that there has never been an accident of a plane hitting the hills near Kai Tak even in bad weather after the long runway built out into the water was opened in 1962. Mind you, I know of three major accidents at Kai Tak but they were all on the runway (a Thai International Caravelle undershot the runway from the sea approach and went into the water, a Cathay Pacific CV880 overran the runway during braking and the nose of the plane went into water, and a China Airlines 747 landing during a storm skidded off the runway and went into the water).
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 12:25 am

BOS, LGA, DCA, and CVG, As much as I love CVG, It is a dangerous airport wit all the hills around it.

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Fri Jul 14, 2000 12:35 am

I would have to disagree with you on CVG, it is actually a very friendly and uneventful airport to fly into; I have done it myself numerous times. I understand your statement about the hills to the north of the field, but they are nothing more than the sides of the Ohio River's stream channel, not interfering with the landing path operation. If you want to talk about hills then try to take a look @ Ashville, NC.


RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 1:23 am

the old Ushuaia airport (glad it's closed now) was deadly. after one end of the runway was a mountain, and the only way to approach it was to fly over a dock (ships with masts) and dive right after that into the runway.

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Juan Pablo Marini

In Buenos Aires itself- jorge newberry- smack in the middle of town, is another one. it's a very small airport, surrounded by busy roads, with the river on one side, and several gas stations around it.
"The [LAPA] aircraft crashed on takeoff from Jorge Newberry Airpark in Buenos Aires, crushing a fence, bouncing across a busy highway, and and skidding across a golf driving range exploding in flames. Review of the Cockpit Voice Recorder shows that the flaps were not correctly set for takeoff, and that the crew ignored the takeoff warning horn for the entire 37-second takeoff roll." (

it also came very close to hitting one of the gas stations, and interrupted traffic for a while.

the path of the plane (© Copyright 1996-2000 Clarín Digital.)

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 1:52 am

I'd heard that the St. Thomas, USVI airport has a Black Star rating for safety, I think because of runway issues- can anyone confirm this?
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Fri Jul 14, 2000 3:01 am

I bet Ashville NC is tough!!!!! I've never flown their, But I've been in the city!!! CVG is one of my favorite airports in the U.S. I love the approach, But it can get kinda scary in bad weather.

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 3:11 am

skyteam where are the hills around cvg the whole terrain is flat
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RE: Boeing727

Fri Jul 14, 2000 3:17 am

St. Thomas' runway has been extended recently (last five years?), although it can't be by much. The runway is limited on one side by hills and on the other by ocean.

In the days before the runway extension, many airlines would operate nonstops into St. Thomas (from JFK, EWR, etc.) but on the return leg, the jets would hop over to St. Croix to adequately fuel the aircraft for the flight home. Apparently it was too risky for a 727 to take off with a fully loaded, fully fueled aircraft from STT.

I rather enjoyed my landing and takeoff on my St. Thomas trip. Felt like I was on one of the Apollo rockets.

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RE: Boeing727

Fri Jul 14, 2000 7:11 am

And Funchal? this city has a very dangerous 1977, a Swiss airplane crashed into the ocean near the airport because it had not sophisticated system of approach.
It is built on a hill, which dominates the sea of 60 meters, there are numerous violent winds near the only runway, which looks like that of an aircraft carrier

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 7:50 am

I agree about LaGuardia, but I enjoy landing there.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 8:05 am

I thought of a couple more...

Even though I love the photos and would love to actually see it in person, St. Maarten looks like a tricky landing. Man do they get close to the beach there. Especially on that Air France 747!

Also, I have been on a American 757 flght to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and talk about hills. I was surprised that plane was able to land on such a small runway. We took every last bit of it too. Then you have to do a U-turn and taxi on the active runway to the parking area. What's a little scary is that just about all the flights get in and take off at the same time there.

I have never been there but my brother said Crestibute, (sp) also in Colorado is another airport with very tricky landing approach as well as taking off due to all the mountains.
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Fri Jul 14, 2000 10:11 am

Skyteam is taking about the hills that the surround the Ohio River just to the north of the field. In 1965 an American Airlines B727 flew right into them, here is an excerp from AIRDISASTER.COM:

The aircraft was on a visual approach for runway 18 at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in rain and clouds when the crew lost sight of the runway. While attempting to tune in the ILS frequency and become stabilized on the approach, the aircraft descended below glideslope and impacted the southern bank of the Ohio River, four miles short of the runway.

Although the surrounding terrain is rather flat (as you mentioned), just to the north is the only area I can think of that SKYTEAM was talking about...

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 10:23 am

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Jose Luiz Junior

Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro can best be described as an aircraft carrier for passenger jets.

It's one of the most beautiful airports in the world in my opinion..........with an absolutely fantastic approach pattern affording a tremendous view of Rio's beaches.............and potential first hand exposure to the waters of Guanabara Bay if your pilot screws up.

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 11:22 am

I don't agree with Che Gordito. AEP is a safe airport. Just because an airport is sorrounded by sprawl doesn't mean it's dangerous.
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Boeing 727/PAPATANGO

Fri Jul 14, 2000 1:54 pm

Yeah, I'm talking about the hills on the Ohio river north of the airport. Its a beautiful approach into CVG, Especially on a clean day

RE: Derico

Fri Jul 14, 2000 7:19 pm

Under good circumstances, I'd agree. But there are "risky" landings there quite often. I remember on one occasion a Boeing 747 emergency landing there.
do you honestly think the runway is long enough for that on a regular basis?

The other point I was making was about the side effects. Using my other example- Ushuaia- where there were several crashes- the side effects weren't that deadly for the average person living there. At worst, the plane fell into the water or hit a boat.

In Buenos Aires that's not true. An accident can have much graver side effects, such as the gas stations blowing up, or many more innocent bystanders- commuters- being injured.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Fri Jul 14, 2000 9:11 pm

Wellington Airport (WLG) my local is not a good airport I can tell you. It's got an X rating i beleive from QF and NZ!!!!!



Fri Jul 14, 2000 11:02 pm

Ohh yeah...It's scary alright. I landed there on a TWA MD-80 coming from PBI on June 26, 2000. I was returning home from visiting my family and was with a friend. We got so close to the water that people started screaming "WERE GONNA CRASH, WERE GONNA CRASH!!!"

I am not ashamed of saying that I was one of them. My buddy and I held hands real tightly. We must have been at least a good 15 feet above the water. THAT SHIT WAS SCARY!!!

Good lord they should do something about that damn airport before somehting really tragic happens.

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RE: LGA- Aa777dr

Sat Jul 15, 2000 2:40 am

What's the difference if you're 15ft above water or the land surrounding the perimeter of the airport on final approach? Over water is the normal approach for a couple of the runways at LGA. Did something drastic happen that made people scream? Was the visibility poor? It was probably pretty routine for the pilots.

I fly in to LGA tomorrow on the USAirways shuttle from DCA. Now you'll have me thinking about this!!
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Sat Jul 15, 2000 3:14 am

EZE is a mess. the new AR terminal has no room for check in and its like a discotec inside (so much smoke and you have to squese by people because argentines always bring their whole family to the airport to say good bye   )

the old terminal is really old. i mean really old! there are no tvs to show departing and arrivles. instead there is a big flip board that is updated every once in a while.

the control tower likes to burn down.

the new terminal is ready to be used but all the airlines refuse to use it because the fees are too high. so it is sitting there doing nothing while the old terminal continues getting older.

Also, i have been told not to take a taxi from the airport because you might not be seen again afterwards. when traveling to AR, take a remise.

i cant wait for the airport to completely fall apart once jorge newbury is closed down and the regoinal flights use eze(pistarini)
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Sat Jul 15, 2000 6:40 am

I used to live in New York and flew into LGA a few times. If you're not coming in over the water, then you dive in from above the skyscrapers. It felt to me like we landed from a bank when we came in over Brooklyn.

There's an airport on Continental Micronesia's Island-Hopper route which the pilot said was like landing on and taking off from an aircraft carrier. I can't remember which one it was -- it may have been Kwalejein. I read about it in Airways magazine about two years ago.

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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Sat Jul 15, 2000 7:39 am

My sister in law was returning to Washington with one of her sisters into National airport, don't know if it they arrived on Rwy 01 or 19, but to anyone who have never flown into a city before an approach over water can be unnerving. Especially when you don't know where the Potomac ends and the runway begins.

My vote for dangerous airports would have to be LGA and BOS the proximity of intersecting runways and high traffic sometimes put aircraft too close together.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Sat Jul 15, 2000 9:29 am

If any airport fits the description of 'an accident waiting to happen', it's LGA. And even after a major disaster, nothing will be done cos there really isn't anything that can be done, and NY is desperately short of runway space. They simply can't close it, the city would close down without the access. NY airspace is astonishingly crowded. I though the air above my head was busy (up to four planes visible at once during peak morning hours) but all day, in NY you can see 10, 12, 20 planes in the sky whenever you bother to look up.

Sorry to sound so macabre, but there will be a time in our lives when we turn on the news to hear of some almighty pile up at LGA with a huge loss of life. Sorry.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Sat Jul 15, 2000 11:26 am

Lokhla in Nepal is proberly the most dangerous airport in the whole world to land on.Forget kai tak.Its just a dirt strip with one end of the runway running straight into a wall of bedrock and the other end plunging over a cliff for a 3000ft drop.Imagine overshooting that!One everest mountain climber once said on tv that he feared the Lokhla landing more then Everest itself.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Sat Jul 15, 2000 2:35 pm

LGA's shoort runways are so dangerous that the NYC mayor Rudolph Guliani criticized Port Authority of NY and NJ for not acting sooner after a Denver bound CO MD-80 went into the water injuring 10 passengers after an aborted take off. DCA has a hard approach along and the ristricted airspace above the White House and other US government facilities and tall buildings do not ease the situation. DEL in India has a rough aproach along John Wayne in Orange County CA.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Sat Jul 15, 2000 2:38 pm

All airports with those freaking noise laws. Especially John Wayne in Orange County. A take-off out of that place is pretty scary. It feels like they go straight up, then cut the engines.
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RE: Most Dangerous Airports

Sun Jul 16, 2000 6:04 pm

Of Caribbean airports I must say that SVD (St. Vincent) is the most hazardous. The single short runway (4600ft long) has its western end on the sea, from where a steep drop in the seabed exists. The eastern end faces the mountains, so planes must land from W to E and depart in the opposite direction. The entire airport is tiny but the runway leaves absolutely no room for error. In 1986 a LIAT Twin Otter leaving for GND developed engine trouble and tried to return in poor weather but never arrived; an exhaustive search failed to recover the plane. 13 people perished in that accident. 11 years later a light aircraft carrying 6 Trinidadians returning home from a cricket match likewise developed engine trouble and crashed shortly after takeoff; the plane plunged into the depths of the sea and 2 of the 6 bodies were never recovered. The latter accident spotlighted the problems at SVD. Interestingly Amerijet uses 727s there but those carry only cargo and do not leave fully loaded.

All the same, SVD remains a very dangerous airport to fly into and from.


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