|

10 Most Unusual Airports Of The World

Building an airport is quite a challenging task for enginners. The ideal location needs ample space, endless flat ground, favorable winds and great visibility. But in the real world locations are rarely ideal, and engineers are forced to work with what they have, making sure that the end product is the safest possible structure. A survey of airports around the world turns up a mixed bag, ranging from dangerous and rugged landing strips to mega-size facilities that operate like small cities. Here is the list of some of the unusual ones..

1.Kansai International Airport [Osaka, Japan ]

Kansai's artificial island is 2.5 miles long and 1.6 miles wide—so large that it's visible from space. Earthquakes, dangerous cyclones, an unstable seabed, and sabotage attempts from protestors are just some of the variables engineers were forced to account for. As impressive as the airport is, Stewart Schreckengast, a professor of aviation technology at Purdue University and a former aviation consultant with MITRE, cautions that climate change and rising sea levels pose a very real threat to the airport's existence. "When this was built, [engineers] probably didn't account for global warming," he says. "In 50 years or so, this might be underwater."

2. Gibraltar Airport [Gibraltar ]

Winston Churchill Avenue, Gibraltar's busiest road, cuts directly across the runway. Railroad-style crossing gates hold cars back every time a plane lands or departs. "There's essentially a mountain on one side of the island and a town on the other," Schreckengast says. "The runway goes from side to side on the island because it's the only flat space there, so it's the best they can do. It's a fairly safe operation as far as keeping people away," he says, "It just happens to be the best place to land, so sometimes it's a road and sometimes it's a runway."

3. Madeira International Airport [Madeira, Portugal ]

Engineers extended the runway to more than 9000 feet by building a massive girder bridge atop about 200 pillars. The bridge, which itself is over 3000 feet long and 590 feet wide, is strong enough to handle the weight of 747s and similar jets. In 2004, the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering selected the expansion project for its Outstanding Structure Award, noting that the design and construction was both "sensitive to environmental and aesthetic considerations."

4. Don Mueang International Airport [Bangkok, Thailand]

Schreckengast, who has worked on consulting projects at this airport, says one of the major problems is that the only taxiways were located at the end of the runways. "We recommended that they build an additional taxiway in the middle, from side to side, and they said ‘absolutely not, that will take out a green and one fairway.'" The airport and the course were originally an all-military operation, but have since opened up to commercial traffic. Security threats, however, have limited the public's access to the greens.

5. Ice Runway [Antarctica]

There is no shortage of space on the Ice Runway, so super-size aircraft like the C-130 Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster III can land with relative ease. The real challenge is making sure that the weight of the aircraft and cargo doesn't bust the ice or get the plane stuck in soft snow. As the ice of the runway begins to break up, planes are redirected to Pegasus Field or Williams Field, the two other airstrips servicing the continent.

6. Congonhas Airport [Sao Paulo, Brazil]

While having an airport only 5 miles from the city center may be a convenience for commuters, it places a strain on both pilots and air traffic control crews. "It becomes a challenge in terms of safety to just get the plane in there," Schreckengast says. "Then you throw on noise restrictions and these terribly awkward arrival and departure routes that are needed to minimize your noise-print and it becomes quite challenging for pilots." Fortunately, Sao Paulo's many high-rise buildings are far enough away from the airport that they aren't an immediate obstacle for pilots landing or taking off.

7. Courchevel International Airport [Courchevel, France]

"You take off downhill and you land going uphill," Schreckengast says. He adds that the hill, which has an 18.5 percent grade, is so steep that small planes could probably gain enough momentum rolling down it with no engines to safely glide off the edge. Landing at Courchevel is obviously no easy task, so pilots are required to obtain certification before attempting to conquer the dangerous runway.

8. Princess Juliana International Airport [Simpson Bay, Saint Maarten]

ot many airports are flanked by oceanfront property filled with tourists standing under incoming aircraft. While the tourists are not really in harm's way—with the exception of their hearing—Schreckengast says that trucks driving on the small road between the beach and the runway could be at risk. "The challenge is to make sure there's not a big semi truck coming through when the plane is landing. It becomes a vertical obstacle, and, if the truck is light, the jet blast could blow it over."

9. Svalbard Airport [Svalbard, Norway]

Engineers used the region's brutally cold climate to their favor during construction and built the runway on a layer of permafrost. The airport was completed in 1975, but slight seasonal changes caused sections of the runway to become uneven, forcing the need to repave the runway on several occasions. A project was launched in 1989 aimed at insulating troublesome sections of the runway from the ground, which proved relatively successful. However, a 2002 study indicates that rising temperatures in the area may increase the need and frequency of maintenance efforts and repaving.

10. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport [Saba, Netherlands Antilles]

Large planes aren't landing here, but the small runway is difficult even for Cessnas and similar aircraft. "The little X means don't land there," says Schreckengast, a former Navy pilot who is no stranger to landing on less than lengthy runways. "It's challenging, but if you don't have something like that, the people here don't get things they routinely need, like mail." Given the limited amount of land and rolling topography of the island, not many other options exist.

Posted by By D Ways on 07:01. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

2 comments for "10 Most Unusual Airports Of The World"

  1. I love it!!! I want to land at all these airports!

    http://www.etiennepadin.com

  2. These airports were featured on Extreme Airports last night on one of the documentary channels. What a great show

Leave a reply

Blog Archive

Labels

Recently Commented

Recently Added