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Funchal, Madeira Airport (FNC): 9th Most Dangerous Airport

Landing at Madeira FNC Airport

Half of my family is from Madeira, Portugal, a small island off the coast of northwestern Africa. The island offers amazing beaches, beautiful year-around weather, and majestic mountains. I’m a little different than most tourists though, since I love their airport the best! Ranked by Discovery Channel as one of the top 10 most dangerous airports in the world, you could literally just watch the planes come in and have yourself a great day (and get a great sun tan while doing it).

Its been a few years since I’ve been to Madeira (though I hope to be back within the next year now that I’m about finished with school), but there really isn’t anything like landing there. To put things in perspective, to be able fly from Madeira at all, the pilot in command must have a minimum of 200 hours as captain on the aircraft type in use, and a minimum of one take-off and landing at Madeira in the last six months, or one supervised flight accompanied by a pilot qualified to land there.

FNC Approach

Approach info for flying into Funchal's airport.

Incidents & Accidents at FNC

  • On 5 March 1973, an Aviaco Sud Caravelle 10R (Registration EC-BID) crashed into the sea during approach, losing the aircraft and three crew.
  • On 19 November 1977, TAP Portugal Flight TP425, a Boeing 727-200 (Registration CS-TBR) was traveling from Brussels to Madeira via Lisbon. After a go around, the aircraft attempted to land in poor weather conditions, of which it landed long on runway 24 (now runway 23) and plunged over a steep bank. It then struck a stone bridge and the right wing was torn off, and then crashing hard onto a beach. A fire then broke out, setting the aircraft alight. Out of the 164 on board, 131 lost their lives.
  • On 18 December 1977, SA de Transport Aérien Flight 730, a Sud Caravelle 10R (registration HB-ICK) was cleared for approach on runway 06 (now runway 05), but descended below 720 ft (220 m) causing the aircraft to crash into the sea. 36 people died out of the 57 on board.
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The Beauty of First Flight

This weekend I got the chance to do something that I’ve always dreamed of. I piloted my first aircraft! Like most aerospace fanatics, ever since I was a child all I wanted to do was be a pilot. Having family all over Europe, I was constantly traveling and I loved it. I got to fly on planes all the time.

When the time came to choose my career path I tried to make the best decision between becoming a pilot or being an aerospace engineer. Eventually the decision was made to follow engineering and I’m extremely happy that I did! Being able to help design and build beautiful flying machines gives a level of satisfaction that I wouldn’t give up for anything. I did however make myself a promise that I would one day become a pilot, even if only as a hobby. This post outlines the beginning of a dream that will hopefully consume endless beautiful weekends for the rest of my life.

The Michigan Flyers did a phenomenal job of hosting the AIAA event for us this year! Thanks again!!

Cessna Planes

Discovery flights for the AIAA University of Michigan. I'm flying in the Cessna 172, but we also had a 162 and 152 at our disposal.

Ann Arbor Airport

Shortly after takeoff you can see the Ann Arbor Airport

Big House

Flying over the Big House and Crisler Arena

Whitmore Lake

Whitmore Lake from the sky

Landing Ann Arbor Airport

Flaps deployed for landing at Ann Arbor Municipal Airport

Landing Tower Ann Arbor Airport

With a little help from the flight instructor we made it safely back on the ground

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