Landing at Lukla, Nepal – The World’s Most Dangerous Airport

Lukla Airport (IATA: LUA, ICAO: VNLK) is a small airport in the Town of Lukla in Khumbu, eastern Nepal. In January 2008, the government of Nepal announced that the airport would be renamed in honor of Sir Edmund Hillary[1]and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first persons to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Sir Edmund Hillary died on January 11, 2008. Tenzing Norgay died in 1986. The airport is now officially named Tenzing-Hillary Airport (LUA|VNLK)[2] Runway characteristics include 527m of bitumen runway. The width is 20m and the runway incline is a staggering 12%. The apron has 4 stands and there is one heli-pad located 150m below the TWR (air traffic control tower). No landing aids are available and Air Traffic Service is limited to AFIS (Aerodrome Flight Information Service) only. The airport is quite popular as Lukla is the place where most people start their trek to climb Mount Everest. There are frequent daily flights (i.e. no night service) between Lukla and Kathmandu, weather permitting. Although the flying distance is short, it can easily be raining in Lukla while the sun is shining brightly in Kathmandu, or vice versa. The airport's siren blasts the mountain air to inform personnel of incoming aircraft. The paved tarmac is only accessible to helicopters and small fixed wing short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft such as Twin Otters or Dornier Do 228. There is about a 700-metre (2,000 ft) angled drop at the end of the runway to the valley below.