Wellington Airport one of world's scariest

  • Breaking
  • 21/01/2012

By Dan Parker

Wellington Airport has recently been named as having the fourth best terminal in the world but the it has also won the dubious honour of being of one of the 15 most scary places to land internationally.

The capital is famous for its wind and that can sometimes turn flying in there into a hair-raising experience for both passengers and pilots.

For 35 years captain Neil Moore has been flying in and out of the Capital and says he has seen it all.

“Wellington is one of the most challenging airfields in the world. It’s got quite a reputation and on a bad day it is very, very challenging – it’s got quirks, turbulence, wind sheer; the whole gamut,” says Captain Moore.

A recent article published for Britain's Telegraph agreed with him and has labelled the destination as one of 15 of the world's scariest landings.

It ranks along side such airstrips as Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Nepal and Toncontin International Airport in Honduras

Wellington Airport's Acting CEO, John Howarth, says the airlines have strict safety procedures which only allow for flying when it's safe.

And aborted landings called ‘go arounds’ - are common if the wind shifts.

“Wellington’s got an excellent safety record, we have over a 100,000 a year and we have skilled and experienced pilots. That survey, when you consider it – if you can call it a survey – was really an unscientific opinion piece,” says Mr Howarth.

But the Airline Pilots Association says improvements could be made and is advocating an extended runway so there would be a full length 240 metre runway end safety area.

The association also says, "Currently Wellington does not meet international safety recommendations that represent best international aviation safety practice."

Currently, the Met Service provides up-to-the-minute forecasts so airlines can make the most educated decisions about whether to land and if winds get above 60 knots or 120 kilometres an hour they often stop flying - something that in Wellington can happen with some regularity.

“Air that will be sitting west of the South Island can’t cross over the Alps. It has to go up north of Nelson and then come around and funnel its way around, that’s why you either tend to have a northerly of a southerly in Wellington and it is usually on one of those days you have to hold on to your hat,” says Dan Corbett of the Met Service.

If you are in a plane, hold on to your seat.

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