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The most difficult airports in Europe?

Which would you say were the biggest challenge, on any criteria e.g. terrain proximity, marginal runway, difficult winds… And why?

Let me kick off with a few

Elba LIRJ – nearby terrain requires a steep descent on the base leg, or a flight in a pass among some hills and then a quick descent

Calvi LFKC – not bad but you need to be awake

Albenga LIMG – fairly tightly among terrain

I believe some Greek airports are known for tricky winds but I haven’t come across one yet.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

I believe some Greek airports are known for tricky winds but I haven’t come across one yet.

Samos LGSM with anything northerly more than 10kts is quite bumpy.
- LGSM Briefing for airliners
- GA related incident Video


Rhodes LGRP and Iraklion LGIR with strong southern winds (less frequent direction) produce quite some turbulence and/or windshear on final approach.
- LGRP Briefing for airliners
- LGIR Briefing for airliners

Last Edited by petakas at 06 Apr 10:24
LGMG Megara, Greece

When it comes to difficult airports it is mostly a matter of what kind of airplane you are flying.
Here is an airport in Norway that simply had to close down due to severe wind conditions too often to be able to maintain a regular service.
Vaeröy Airport

Sweden, Sweden

Fly310 wrote:

When it comes to difficult airports it is mostly a matter of what kind of airplane you are flying.

Exactly. A Maule on tundra wheels will have different difficulties than a LearJet or Cessna 182.

Short runways (for the type of aircraft), visual (final) approach only, difficult terrain, local weather phenomena and any combination thereof are what makes it difficult.
From the ones I regularly visit certainly the first two on Peter’s list stand out as well. Both require the “GPWS” circuit breaker to be pulled, otherwise the aircraft will shout "whoop! whoop! Pull Up! " with an incredible audio level at you for the entire duration of the approach. Which tells about everything. I have been to LIRJ quite often so that I am more or less confident with it. It is VFR only which means that any kind of bad weather is a no-go anyway. But Albenga has in instrument approach at the end of which you will find yoursef inside a gap between two mountains with steep and high mountains 5NM ahead which you can’t even see in IMC. With any kind of wind expect the worst imaginable turbulence all the way from reaching minima down to touchdown – another minute at least. Last time I was there I really feared that pieces of the aircraft had come off. The local ATC personnell is very “helpful” in always giving you wind speed of 14 knots (15 is the operating limit for the airport) so that you can legally fly your approach even if the little wind arrow in your PFD reads 35… If you have to fly the circle to land procedure that torture for man and machine will last two or three more minutes longer… For the case of an engine failure (in any kind of multi engine aircraft) an escape procedure must have been worked out and followed meticulously, otherwise hitting a mountain face is unavoidable. The shortish runway and steepish final visual approach segent (during which the PAPI cannot be used) does not make it any easier. So yes, my personal number one on the list must be Albenga. (But I am not qualified for instrument operations into Lugano and Bolzano which hold their own challenges I am told).

Last Edited by what_next at 06 Apr 12:04
EDDS - Stuttgart

I have been flying into Albenga for the last 15 years about 5-10 times a year. The localizer is quite a bit off-set and the minima are quite high. In all those years and approaches it has happened to me once that I got shaken so badly on final that my wife started crying once we touched down. She was as pale as the background of this forum. It really was severe and I was sweatting quite a bit. The sky was clear but the wind was coming from the north and gusting at 25-30 kts. All was well and hell started exactly over the ABN beacon.

LSZH

Fly310 wrote:

Here is an airport in Norway that simply had to close down due to severe wind conditions too often to be able to maintain a regular service

It was closed for commercial traffic after a Twin Otter from Widerøe took off in 57 knots gust. The wind overloaded the aircraft, broke the push rod to the elevator, killed 5 people. It still open for GA as far as I know. If a Twin Otter is not able to take off without breaking apart, I don’t know what is, except Su-31 or something. Anyway, I think its only wind from a particular direction with a mean velocity above 15-20 knots that creates a dangerous situation there, but that situation happens way too often for regular service by today’s standards.

ENVA ENOP ENMO, Norway

Gibraltar LXGB is very tricky for winds. Not only for small airplanes, but the number of diversions of both BA and Monarch to Malaga is astonishingly high.

For me until now:
- Helgoland EDXH: short runway
- Courchevel LFLJ: slope
- Samos: indeed, the winds can be tricky (also in combination with the high temperatures at noon)

Vie
EBAW/EBZW

Fly310 wrote:

When it comes to difficult airports it is mostly a matter of what kind of airplane you are flying.

And what kind of pilot you are. As a student pilot used to 1200 m of asphalt runway I find even 700 m runways to feel quite “short” despite our Aquila A211 requiring maybe half that under standard conditions (ISA, no wind)

Novice pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany

Vagar on Faroe Islands.
There’s a fixed warning on the approch plates:
http://aim.naviair.dk/media/files/h4lwymra4mb/EK_AD_2_EKVG_ILS_LOC_30_ACFT_CAT_A_B_en.pdf

“CAUTION Adhere strictly to the prescribed procedure due to the high surrounding terrain. Moderate to severe turbulence may be encountered”

EKRK, Denmark
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