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Pilot survey says Gib is toughest runway for landings

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has named Gibraltar as the world’s most difficult runway to land on following a recent survey of pilots.
One such pilot Alun Evans who flies for Monarch flagged the short runway which, he said, is “frequented by the biggest seagulls” he has ever seen.
He added: “because of politics, Gibraltar has a very small control zone which is frequently ‘transited’ by aircraft not in contact with anyone. Once again, the MK1 eyeball (the human eye) is a valuable ally.”
On the two Surveillance Radar Approaches (SRA), where Air Traffic Controllers guide the planes down keeping them on the centreline and giving them descent advise until they can continue visually, which is a three miles out at Gibraltar.
“With the eastern one terminating at 3NM at 90-degrees to the runway, visual manoeuvring is then required to align the aircraft to the runway whilst avoiding the oil tankers in the bay,” he said.
He notes how tailwinds are not the only wind issue as “strict limits are enforced for crosswinds too, and for good reason, as relatively light winds from the ‘wrong’ direction can produce nasty turbulence with strong up and down draughts.”
Despite all this, he still believes that “Gibraltar offers a fantastic opportunity to fly somewhere a little different, with challenging approaches and one unique feature – a main road that crosses the runway.”
In his interview with BALPA he also praised local staff: “No piece on Gibraltar would be complete without mentioning the excellent air traffic control and meteorology staff at Gibraltar who provide an expert service under sometimes difficult conditions.”

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