Lukla airport of Nepal is probably the world’s dangerous airport. Lukla is situated in the northern hilly region of Nepal. Lukla’s only runway, paved in 2001 despite having been built by the Kiwi mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary in the 1960s, is a heart-stoppingly tiny 1,729 feet long . It’s a 40-minute flight from Kathmandu, Nepal to the village of Lukla. That seems like a simple trip, until you consider it’s 40 minutes of mountain-dodging, white-knuckling, flying in a small plane to arrive at what’s consistently named the world’s most dangerous airport.
This can be a challenging airport. Hundreds of people have died dreaming to take the adventure and see the smile of Mount Everest closely. What seems challenging is the weather factor. Bad weather is the strong reason behind the numerous cancellation of flights from and landing at Lukla. Lukla is the entrance to world’s highest mountain- Mount Everest. Landing here enjoying the view of beautiful mountains feels exciting. Taking off is even more exciting, with sharp acceleration and a downward charge akin to the sensations of a roller coaster. Airports at high-altitude present dangers due to the effect that low air pressure has on the handling of an airplane.
Despite all this, Lukla is Nepal’s busiest domestic airport and, for trekkers intent on seeing Mt. Everest, flying here is an essential part of the adventure. The airport is surrounded on all sides by steep, mountainous terrain. The airport runway is extremely short . The landing starts from the north to the south and take-off starts from the south to the north of the runway. The plane will go round the mountain and land on an uphill runway. Similarly, the take-off plane will go downhill.. Only experienced pilots are advised to have flight to Lukla. Many travelers landing to Lukla say they feel scared. Many of them promise not to fly Lukla.
Here weather is highly unpredictable. Sudden mist, fog, rainstorms or snow are always possible. Despite the short distance and short flight-time, the weather in Lukla can often be completely different from Kathmandu, and frequently changes while the airplane is on its way. In such circumstances, planes turn around and return to Kathmandu. Afternoons are so frequently cloudy that most flights are scheduled for the early morning. Cancellations from Lukla are common.
There is no certainty of flight due to the changing environment. The flights are usually operated early in the morning. In the mid and late morning, the airport regularly closes due to the strong southwest winds. Loss of visibility, preventing planes from landing under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) result in the urgent closure of the airport without any information. The changing environment and the falling fog on the runway can result in a crash.
Lukla at present –
Along with the development of the country, the development of the airport and Khumbu area is growing gradually year by year. The paved runway with a dimension is 527m 30 m. works for both arrival and departure. The runway designation is 06 (for landing) and 24 (for takeoff). It has a parking capacity of 4 small aircraft. Depending upon the weather, trekking and mountaineering season, required number of flights per day took place in Lukla airport. The number of accidents is getting minimized.
There is no navigation equipment, the pilots perform take-off and landing focusing exclusively visually. Spring and autumn are the busiest period. One has to go through Lukla airport for Everest expedition. The alternative Lukla consists of two alternatives: fly through helicopter (for $500), or hike through some other villages and find the transport that usually runs in Jiri, Phaplu or Salleri. This may take at least 3-4 days.