What happens when you fly to isolated aerodrome in turbine engine aircraft without predetermined point procedure and just upon arrival for example an aircraft crashes on the runway and you can not land, you have fuel for 2h of flying due to fuel reg when flying to isolated destination aerodrome and what happens next? Is there an requirement for isolated aerodrome to have maybe 2 separated runways? Or something else...

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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't need to be an isolated aerodrome. In 2022, Singapore Airlines flight SQ-319 waited for the weather to improve rather than diverting, when there was no improvement they flew to the alternate but the weather had closed in there. They messed up the first approach, finally managed to get down and ran out of fuel while taxying to the stand. avherald.com/h?article=50f11fc3 $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 23 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ How sure are you that all those details matter? Why not just 'you cannot land, you have fuel for 2h…'? How could there be a requirement for any 'drome to have more than one runway…? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 23 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ The Gimli Glilder had no fuel and only a closed airport with people on the runway. At least they had a runway. $\endgroup$
    – crip659
    Commented Feb 24 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? May an emergency aircraft land on a closed runway? $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented Feb 29 at 20:41

4 Answers 4


In the scenario where a large passenger jet is in a situation where its only landing option is closed with insufficient fuel to get to another landing strip then the options are limited to attempting to land at the closed airfield, or finding a place for an emergency landing, and neither option is likely to end well.

Airports are not required to have multiple landing strips, even isolated ones. The most isolated airport in the world is probably Mataveri International on Easter Island, in the Pacific. The closest airport is in Chile, 2400 miles away. It has a single 10,000ft strip.

The key to safety is to not get into that situation in the first place. In the case of Mataveri, only one flight is allowed to fly to it at once, that flight must land successfully before another is allowed to depart to it, and flights must carry a lot of extra fuel.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, so I wonder how that airport is staffed. You can literally be home until someone schedules a flight and then you head to the airport while the plane is in the air. $\endgroup$
    – Nelson
    Commented Feb 23 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ With Mataveri, if memory serves, there's also a weather decision point near the route's halfway point. If the weather seems too rough to land in, the pilots turn around and go back to SCL. $\endgroup$
    – Jules
    Commented Feb 23 at 7:07
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    $\begingroup$ The Gimli Glider is a perfect example of this situation. No fuel and only an old closed runway or making a dent in the ground. $\endgroup$
    – crip659
    Commented Feb 24 at 21:06

It's pretty simple. You have 2 hours of fuel on board, the nearest useable strip is over 2 hours away, and there is a wrecked airplane on the runway that you'd confirmed was useable before you left, or maybe a moose that just walked across and died of a heart attack in the middle 5 minutes before you arrived.

Normally on trips to remote locations, you have enough fuel for the round trip and just head back (assuming you weren't compelled to land anyway to help injured people). But the company may have a fuel cache at a location so that more payload can be flown out, so that kind of situation is possible.

What are you going to do? The choice is land on a much shortened surface, or on a patch of open ground somewhere, or crash into the trees.

Since a skilled pilot won't need the entire runway, in the absence of other options they'll just land anyway, over, or short of, whatever is obstructing the runway, depending on where it is. You work around it. You may be stuck there until the obstruction is removed, but that's the bush flying life and you include those ramifications in your decision.

If you arrived and the runway was flooded with a foot of water, and you never checked, and didn't include return fuel for the trip, that's on you for your poor planning and maybe you aren't cut out for bush flying, which is very much a live-by-your-wits pastime.

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    $\begingroup$ On floats that is. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ Then you'd probably be on your way to killing a couple hundred people, @FilipAdam. Bad decision making. However, any airport capable of landing a 747 will, most likely, have a taxiway that could be used in an emergency. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 22 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ @FilipAdam You'll be on an IFR flight plan and will divert to your alternate same as if the weather was below minimums or the airport was closed due to a terrorist attack or something. IFR fuel requirements are trip>approach>missed approach>fly to flight planned alternate>approach>land>30 minutes fuel remaining on landing. What you're describing would only apply to a VFR bush operation on wheels. My bush experience is on floats, where runways don't even come into it and I was always flying with round trip fuel. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Feb 22 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnK That's not correct, you can fly IFR without an alternate (see e.g. this answer). The whole point of the question was that the destination is isolated, which means there is no viable alternate available. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Commented Feb 23 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Bianfable Technically yes, but NAIFR (in Canada anyway) requires VFR conditions forecast at destination so unless the isolated location the 747 is heading to has a TAF available, it won't be going NAIFR. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Feb 23 at 13:23

If you flew to an airfield without having a viable plan for an alternate destination in the event that you couldn't land there, then that's your mistake as the pilot. It's true that the law does not require you to declare an alternate on your flight plan, but any sensible pilot should have a plan for what to do in the event that they couldn't land.

There are plenty of reasons why you might not be able to land, mostly weather-related and much more likely than an unexpected aircraft crash. You need to be prepared for them. @JohnK gives you a good summary of the options open to you if you do find yourself in that position.

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    $\begingroup$ The question is about an isolated aerodrome, where ICAO specifically doesn't require an alternate (see this answer): "the aerodrome of intended landing is isolated and there is no suitable destination alternate aerodrome." $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Commented Feb 22 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ The fact that the law does not require you to officially declare an alternate in your flight plan does not excuse a pilot from having a plan in the case that they are unable to land there. The plan does not have to be a legally acceptable "alternate", but some way of getting the plane on the ground with a good chance of not killing the occupants. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22 at 19:23

Or something else...

You have several pre-scouted ditching/off-field landing locations, ideally already keyed into the FMS, briefed, etc. If you were in the business of flying 747s to an "off-field/ditching is the nearest alternate" location, you'd be better be prepared, have seen the locations in person, or at least on recent satellite or aerial imagery, have consulted with local people/authorities, talked to anyone else who flies/flied to that destination that you can find, etc.

Just as if you were driving your car into wilderness where if the car failed you could die of exposure if unprepared. You have to be prepared, have a plan, have it briefed, and not have too worry about it when you're enroute. If you make that flight, you are accepting that the off-field ditching is an alternative and an acceptable risk. Otherwise you don't fly. Simple as that.

The aerodrome has no obligation to you. If it's closed/unavailable and you have no other options, it your mess to deal with, so you have to be prepared.

Lets say I'm flying B747

You're flying it without passengers, on a ferry flight, mind you, just to be clear.


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