The recent Air India tragedy in Kozhikode has shuddered the nation, bringing to light a challenge even the most experienced pilots face — dangerous runways. Here are some of the most challenging runways in the country today. By Bayar Jain

1. Kozhikode International Airport, Kerala


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Known as a tabletop runway—one that is perched atop a plateau or hill with a steep gorge on either (or both) ends—the landing strip at Kozhikode International Airport is surrounded by lush greens. Spread across 2,860 meters, this particular runway is considered challenging for wide-bodied aircrafts to land. However, despite this risk, the airport today serves two metropolitan areas in the state: Kozhikode metropolitan area and Malappuram metropolitan area.

2. Mangalore International Airport, Karnataka


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Although it is the second busiest airport in Karnataka (state capital’s Bengaluru airport being the first), the tabletop runway is considered more challenging due to its short length. The fact that there is a gorge on either end, in turn doubling the risk of overshooting, makes it a particularly tricky strip.

3. Lengpui Airport, Mizoram


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Despite being the only airport in the state, Aizawl’s Lengpui Airport is unique for its hilly streams running underneath the 2,500-metre long runway. It’s tabletop strip, however, is not the only hurdle here. This north-eastern state also invites heavy rains and strong winds during the monsoon months, heightening the possibility of misjudgment while descending.

4. Bir Tikendrajit International Airport, Manipur


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Located in Imphal and perched 774 metres above sea level paired with a 2,746 metre-long runway, this international airport is known to challenge pilots. The presence of surrounding mountains means the aircrafts need to manoeuvre at 3.5 degrees—a very steep angle in aviation—to prevent crashing into the hills.

5. Shimla Airport, Himachal Pradesh


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While only limited flights cater to this hill-town, it remains a tough landing strip. As per News18, this tabletop runway has been dubbed as one of the riskiest airports by aviation experts. If being on hilly terrain wasn’t challenging enough, its short runway poses another threat and limits the possibility of smaller aircrafts landing here. The treacherous weather and heavy rains throughout the year accelerate the risks further.

Related: Next Time You’re Flying, Watch Out For These Unique Runways!