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NetJets
March 2020

The World’s Most Challenging Airport Approaches

The demanding landings encountered by our exceptional pilots
While some airport locations offer long stretches of runway and easy conditions, others present more of a challenge. Short runways, mountain peaks, deep valleys and more can all make descent and landing more difficult for pilots.

Our pilots are well equipped to deal with these challenges, however. As part of our unwavering commitment to safety,  all NetJets pilots and crew members receive the very highest standard of training. Our exceptional pilots are recruited from leading air forces and airlines across Europe and transformed into world-class aviation specialists once under our wing.

Training is intensive and, with the aid of our flight simulator, includes unique exercises for mountainous regions and remote destinations with challenging airports such as Sion, Samedan, Lugano, Innsbruck and Chambery.

Some of the most demanding airport approaches around the world where NetJets operates include:

Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck is one of the most challenging airport approaches in Europe. Situated in a valley surrounded by 9,000-foot mountains, there is only one way in and one way out.

Depending on the wind direction, approaches start at one end of the valley. Due to the high terrain there is no vertical guidance beam to guide the pilots down to the runway and they must an artificial descent path programmed into the computer to track their vertical profile.

When the wind is from the east, things get even more tricky: Pilots can take the same approach to the westerly runway, break off the approach, fly past the airport and pull a hard right turn in the tight space of the valley before lining up with the runway to land, or use their GPS position to fly an approach to land.

Paro, Bhutan

Located in a deep valley on the bank of the river Paro Chhu, with surrounding peaks as high as 5,500 metres, Paro airport is notoriously difficult to fly into. The dramatic approach to the runway is completely hidden from pilots until the last minute as they have to manoeuvre between mountains at a 45-degree angle before dropping quickly onto the runway. Additionally, the runway only allows for arrivals and departures during the daytime

Funchal, Madeira

Situated in the Atlantic Ocean, 480 kilometres off the northwest African coast, Madeira is famous for its windy conditions and the challenge this presents to pilots.

The airport is situated on the side of the island where terrain blocks a straight in approach to one end of the runway. Once again, an RNP (AR) approach is available, allowing pilots to safely guide the aircraft past the hills and down to the runway.  This can all be done in cloud, even if it comes down to 1,000 feet above the ground.

Princess Juliana, St. Maarten

This stunning holiday destination is home to one of the most striking runways: Extremely short and located on the edge of Maho beach, planes must approach over the water at an extremely low altitude appearing to be just feet above the heads of the public. Sunbathers beware of huge gusts of wind and sand.

Samedan, Switzerland

Samedan sits at an elevation of almost 1,800 metres and is one of the highest airports in Europe. It is considered one of the most challenging airports in the world to fly into due to its difficult topography and winds, as well as the thinness of the air at its altitude. Reassuringly. all NetJets Pilots undergo special training throughout the year to make sure they are well-equipped to handle this airport.

Other Challenging Airports

Where NetJets does not operate:

Lukla, Nepal

Positioned in the Himalayan mountains, Lukla Airport in Nepal is the ideal airport for anyone visiting Mt. Everest. Positioned between mountains with a very short runway, one end of the runway is a mountain wall and the other end is a dramatic fall into the valley.

Barra, Scotland

This secluded airport is located on the beach in the shallow bay of Traigh Mhòr in the Outer Hebrides. Rising tides are the primary issue for pilots as the runway is only five feet above sea level and all three runways are completely submerged during high tide. Pilots also often have to contend with severe weather conditions.
Learn more about our the extensive and thorough pilot training at NetJets.

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