This Airport Is So Dangerous That Only 8 Pilots Are Certified To Land There

Bhutan’s Paro International Airport is frequently featured on lists of the world’s most dangerous airports, and with good reason. With an approach between 18,000-foot peaks through a long and winding valley and a runway that’s only 7,431 feet long and visible for mere seconds before landing, it requires a tremendous amount of skill to negotiate. Adding to the inherent danger is the fact that there’s no radar to guide planes into the airport. Pilots must fly entirely in manual mode at a speed and altitude that has been designed to ensure a safe landing. Flights are only permitted during daylight hours and under good visibility. As if being able to check the visual landmarks and the runway wasn’t enough, pilots also need to watch out for electrical poles and rooftops of the houses on the hillside as they maneuver between the mountains at a 45º angle before dropping quickly onto the runway. Most airports have at least 11 miles of distance for pilots to gauge an aligned approach onto the landing strip, while Paro’s airport offers only one or two. Only two airlines fly into Paro: the state-owned flag-carrier Drukair — also known as Royal Bhutan Airlines — and privately-owned Bhutan Airlines.