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The most dangerous airport in the world

Only eight pilots in the world have access to takeoff and landing at this airport


The Kingdom of Bhutan is located in the Himalayas, between India and China. It is a constitutional monarchy. Of course, all power there belongs to the people, but the people rule, of course, the king.
Actually, the main concern of the authorities is to make fellow citizens happy. This is the special Ministry of Happiness. His staff day and night improve living standards and improve its quality. All changes are measured by special measures, the main of which is gross national happiness, known in our world as a gross national product …

Bhutan is generally so unique that it requires many separate posts. Therefore, to begin with, I will briefly tell about one of the main attractions – the legendary airport of Paro. Its long and deservedly called the most dangerous airport in the world. But it is through these air gates that you can get to Bhutan. Or, as the locals call it, Druck Yul is the Land of the Thunder Dragon …


Paro Airport is the largest in Bhutan and the only international one. It was opened in 1983. It is located 6 km. from the town of Paro, and 55 km. from the capital of the country, the city of Thimphu. It is located at an altitude of 2,237 meters, in a narrow mountain valley, on the shore of the Paro river of the same name. From all sides the airport is surrounded by sharp peaks of the Himalayas, with a height of up to 5,500 meters. Only eight pilots (the crews of the national airline Bhutan Druk Air) in the world have a permit for the production of take-offs and landings at this airport.

The maneuvers of climb and descent are very similar to the roller coaster at a speed of 400 km / h. Imagine that along a narrow winding trail between tall mountains you need to fly a bullet, fitting into every bend and turn at an altitude of four thousand meters. From what you see outside the window and from the sensations in the chair, you can piss. Can be right in the chair. Sorry for the poverty and simplicity of speech.

The airport operator is state-owned company Druk Air Corporation Ltd. Technical characteristics of the airport: the working length of the runway is 1985 meters (taking into account the end strips of security – 2270 meters), the width is 30 meters, the cover is asphalt. This runway is one of the few in the world, the length of which is less than its height above sea level. There are also four taxiways, a width of 15 meters each.

The airport complex includes: a control point with a control tower, a passenger terminal, a royal terminal (terminal of officials and delegations), a cargo terminal and two hangars, each of which can accommodate a 25-meter aircraft. Special airfield equipment is parked on the platform.

Paro Airport, Bhutan

A house in a straight line is probably a royal terminal. As an assumption.

Climatic features and difficult terrain complicate the work of the airport: due to constant winds, take-offs and landings are carried out mainly in one direction – the southern one. When climbing and lowering, strong turbulence in all weathers. The airport does not have light-signaling equipment and operates only during daylight hours – according to the actual sunrise and sunset. Pilots use the visual approach scheme.

The passenger terminal, like all other buildings in Bhutan, is built in the national style, and includes: 4 check-in desks, 1 gateway, 1 luggage, checkpoints, border, customs and veterinary control, currency exchange office, post office, restaurant, VIP-lounge, souvenir shops and duty free. There is a parking lot and two small hoteliers. Passenger traffic of the airport in 2012 was slightly more than 30 thousand people.

In fact, the airport is used by the only airline Druk Air – Royal Bhutan Airlines or Royal Airways of Bhutan. Only its aircraft have the right to fly internationally to Bhutan. This is partly due to the peculiarities of the airport – the extreme complexity of take-offs and landings. The airline fleet consists of four aircraft: three Airbus A-319 (leasing) and one ATR 42-500 (ownership). Layout A-319: 20 business class seats and 94 economy, ATR 42-500 – 48 economy class seats.

Aerobus A-319, Paro Airport, Bhutan.


Airways of the company Druk Air differ from similar machines – these are equipped with more powerful engines from the Airbus A-320. Thus, with a smaller mass, the Bhutan A-319 has a high thrust-to-weight ratio, which allows them to take off from a short strip at full load. When landing at the Paro airport, the reverse is used almost to the full stop of the aircraft. As a rule, flights do not load 100%, and planes are centered in a special way: passengers in the economy are seated by two people on a row of three seats. Limitations on luggage: in the economy – 20 kg, in business – 30 kg, but hand luggage (5 kg) will be included in these 20 or 30 kg.

In the route network Druk Air 13 destinations: local – Bumthang, Gelephu and Yongphulla; International – Dhaka (Bangladesh), Bagdogra, Gaya, Guwahati, Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore. Almost all flights are carried out with intermediate landings. The best time connections for a flight to Bhutan from Moscow via Bangkok, from where Druk Air daily flies to Paro. Optimal in price – through Delhi, but extremely inconvenient in time.

And a small but important feature: Druk Air does not guarantee the scheduled flights, as the time of arrival and departure depends on the weather conditions of the Paro airport. The carrier officially warns about this on the website. Be careful.

In the end, a little pleasantness: Druk Air is almost the only airline in the world, whose passengers can see the highest mountain of the Everest (Jomolungma) from the plane. In order not to miss this beauty, sit on the starboard side. On the approach of Everest, the commander informs loudly, but indistinctly. The service is available on the Paro-Kathmandu flight.

The approach video at Paro airport from the Airbus A319:

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