Safest Mode of transport? Think again

 Safest Mode of transport? Think again

In one of the Superman movies, after saving an aircraft from freefall, the man of steel entreats passengers not to allow ‘this little mishap’ to colour their perceptions about the safety of aeroplanes. ‘Statistically,’ he says, ‘it is still the safest way to travel.’ Though we don’t claim to argue against statistics, today we will give you a list of airports that will further challenge that counter-intuitive statement.
Princess Juliana International Airport
This airport serves the Dutch part of the island of St Martin. The most interesting story about this airport concerns Runway 09, whose approach is over water, overlooking the famous Maho Beach. In order to land on the runway, aircrafts regularly fly over Maho Beach at heights as low as forty to fifty feet. Even during departure, the leaving aircraft has to fly low over the beach and then turn to dodge the mountains in its path.
However, in spite of these ‘difficulties’, there have been no records of major accidents at the airport, so statistics, as superman would say, are in favour of safety.
 Tenzing-Hillary Airport
If you ever take it upon yourself to scale the Everest, this airport is where you’d begin your journey. One hopes, though, that you won’t have to fly in and out, because it’s rated the most dangerous airport in the world. Also called Lukla Airport, the runway slopes at such an angle that aircrafts have to land uphill and depart downhill. There is high terrain immediately beyond the northern end of the runway and a steeply angled drop at the southern end into the valley below. This means there are no second chances, no opportunity for a go-around or an aborted take-off. You either get it right or else.
True to form, the airport has had multiple incidents – some fatal, some not – in the past. If you’re flying on this runway, all we can say is ‘May God be with you.’
 Paro Airport
With surrounding peaks as high as 18000 ft, this only international airport of Bhutan is considered among the most challenging for both landing and take-off. As of October 2009, only eight pilots in the world are certified to land here, and flight traffic is allowed only during visible daylight, between sunrise and sunset. So if you wish to fly out of Bhutan after nightfall, we’re sorry, you’re out of luck. And also, in case you find yourself inside a flight that is set to take off from Bhutan, asking for the pilot to display his certification card may not be as bad an idea. Rude, perhaps, but also sensible, we think.
Gibraltar International Airport
How would you feel if the busiest road in your town intersects with the runway of the international airport? We’ll have to ask the people of Gibraltar to weigh in. Winston Churchill Avenue, by far the ‘Queen Street’ of Gibraltar, has to be closed by means of gates every time a flight lands or departs. Though air traffic is admittedly not high because flights only go to the UK and back, one would think it’s a rather rummy situation for one and all.
Add to this fact that the runway is abnormally short and leads into the sea and you have a perfect recipe for a cocktail. It has earned the unenviable title of being the most dangerous airport in Europe, and the fifth most dangerous in the world. Gulp.
Courchevel Airport
Let the beauty of the French Alps lull you into a false sense of security. This airport, serving the town of Courchevel, has a runway of only 525 meters, with a gradient of 18.5%. It has a difficult approach, an upslope runway, and an adjacent area given over to a ski field. Throw in a bit of fog, a dash of snow, a helping of sleet, and you’re setting yourself up rather nicely. Though it is considered one of the famous airports because it featured in the James Bond movie, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, we think otherwise. We’d argue that any place that appears in a James Bond movie cannot possibly be safe for ‘regular’ folk.
So all we’re saying is take care.
While we agree with the superhero from Krypton that air travel is statistically the safest way to get around, we think even he would permit himself a wry shake of the head if he was shown this list. So if you ever find yourself in any of the above mentioned places, you could be forgiven for murmuring a little prayer to your favourite deity.
Or you could do the modern, fashionable thing and hope that Superman is hovering somewhere nearby.


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