Nerve-shredding footage shows pilots struggling to land passenger jets in 49mph (78.8 kph) crosswinds, at Madeira’s Funchal airport, often referred to as the ‘scariest’ airport in Europe. Sideways, crosswind landings and aborted touchdowns at the last second: it is not a surprise to experienced pilots. As a number of planes approached the island runway, the wind picked up so much it forced several to abort landing at the last second.
With an unusually short runway, rocky hills on either side and a sheer drop into the ocean the airport is recognised by pilots as one of the most difficult to land in Europe, if not the world. The runway is also susceptible to strong winds and turbulence and in this video several planes are seen landing and are thrown about by the high winds. One plane is almost seen landing sideways after being turned by the wind.Europe's Scariest Airport
Pilots require special training to land at this incredibly short runway on the Portuguese archipelago which is wedged in between mountains and the Atlantic sea. The two main runways at Madeira Airport were just 5,250 feet (1,600 m) long when the airport opened for business in 1964. The runway was so short it had to be extended twice due to accidents, including one in 1977 in which a Boeing 727 plunged off the end of the runway, killing 131 of the 164 people on board. The latest extension in 2000, saw an extra one kilometre added to the runway, built on concrete pillars in the sea. The pillars stand at a height of 120 metres, half below the waterline and half above.
The History Channel named Madeira's Funchal as the ninth most dangerous airport in the world, and the second most dangerous after Gibraltar in Europe.