Yesterday(August 7 2020), an Air India Express plane skidded of the runway(Dubai - Kozhikode, IN) and fell almost 30 feet below from the tabletop runway and broke into two pieces. It was also heavily raining and the visibility was low. Unfortunately, 17 people died including the pilot and co-pilot. The pilot was well experienced and had worked in the Indian Air Force. For more info: https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/air-india-flight-from-dubai-crashlands-in-kozhikode-both-pilots-among-17-killed/ar-BB17I15z

The runway as I said earlier is a tabletop runway, I heard that these runways create some sort of optical illusion, thus it is challenging to land a plane.

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    $\begingroup$ From the limited info in the linked article, it would seem as though a very wet runway that limited braking might have been more of a factor. In my (limited to single-engine GA, but including airports like this one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedona_Airport ) experience, the only challenge is accounting for possible downdrafts at the approach end. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 4:39

1 Answer 1


There are a couple of optical illusions that can come into play on tabletop runways:

  1. Because the runway sits higher than the surrounding terrain, depth perception can be thrown off and the runway may seem like it should be lower than it actually is.

  2. Due to the steep drop off just past the end of the runway, it can be difficult to judge the remaining length as it seems to stretch on into the landscape beyond, almost like an infinity pool.

Beyond this, tabletop runways in general tend to punish overruns more than traditional runways because there can be very limited space before the large verticle drop. Precise, well-configured approaches are vital, and proper care must be taken to ensure that the runway provides plenty of length for the landing roll of the aircraft (considering speed, flaps setting, weight, runway condition, etc.)

To simplify: There are plenty of runways that are trickier to shoot, but might not have such a severe penalty for getting it wrong.


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