Dangerous airports: Gibraltar
30 Aug 2012 21:30:00
When driving on a big road most are used to wait for a train to pass, but in Gibraltar you need to wait for an airplane to pass. The International Airport of Gibraltar is the only major airport in the world where a four-lane highway crosses the runway. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea south of Spain. With only 6.8 square kilometers and 30.000 inhabitants it is tiny but of huge strategic importance. The airport was built in the Second World War when the British Navy was stationed here at the Gibraltar Naval Base. It is still a military airport and it is owned by the British Ministry of Defense for use by the Royal Air Force. But civilian operators use the airport too. Currently at least 7 flights a day depart from here.
The airport is situated only 500 meters from the Gibraltarï¿½s city center. The road that intersects the runway (the Winston Churchill Avenue) is the main access road to the city and the highway to the Spanish border. Every time an aircraft wants to land or take-off, the highway has to be closed for at least ten minutes leading to a total closure time of over 2 hours a day. Plans have been developed to build a tunnel but although it was scheduled to be completed in 2009 it is still not finished. The highway crossing is one thing that makes this one of the most dangerous airports in the world. What makes this airport special too is that both end of the runway end in water and that almost half its runway has been build in the sea on reclaimed land. Skipping off the runway means here taking a dip in the sea. This airport requires absolute precision of pilots.