On this airport, it seems the runway end with a wall followed by a mountains. Thus the pilots physically can't overrun the runway and if they decide to interrupt the landing, the go-around maneuver seems to include a very tight turn to avoid the mountain unless performed very soon during the approach. Is it possible to perform a go-around, and a which point it becomes impossible for this particular airport?


4 Answers 4


No, it is almost impossible.

The only runway (06/24) Lukla Airport is just 1500 feet long. This article lists some interesting facts:

The topography of the place makes any go-around impossible. At the south, the runway is the end of an angled drop of about 2000 feet. This cliff is fenced off as a precautionary measure. At the northern end of the runway there is a huge mountain terrain. It leaves no room for error.

A pilot mentions the same here:

"Because there is no way to go around again, we have to calculate many things like air speed, tail wind, fog. If you don't do the proper calculation or proper exercise, then it (an accident) happens."

Planes land on runway 06 (Heading 060 or ENE) and takeoff from runway 24 (Heading 240 or WSW). This picture shows the cliff on North:

Lukla Airport from air

There have been several accidents at this airport.

  • $\begingroup$ Please be a bit more specific. What kind of plane are you asking about? Helicopter? What is a go around (i.e., the pilot can make the decision to divert and go elsewhere. At what distance do you consider that to be a go around and not just a diversion?) To get a good answer to an interesting question, you need a bit more specificity. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ @SkipMiller It appears that OP is familiar with most of the clarifications you are asking. Mostly airplanes land on that airport. If we talk about go-around vs diversion, I feel that it would become off topic on this thread. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed with @farhan - the question is clearly regarding a go around (ie an aborted landing while on approach) rather than a diversion. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ This is not quite correct - it is possible to go-around at Lukla. I've seen it done. That said, by the time you realise you need to go-around it's often too late, the tricky bit is just before the threshold (lots of shear there) and your options are very limited at that point. $\endgroup$
    – os1
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ @sp1 I said the same thing. You just reworded my premise and down voted. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 17:29

Hi guys few days ago a twin otter did make an aborted landing and made a "go around" at the airport and headed back to Kathmandu. This is the first time such an incident happened although there has been numerous crashes in the past.

Here is a link to the video.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Scary move! Back to Kathmandu for a change of underwear. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 7:54
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ That's a flight delay I'd be happy to accept. Yikes!! $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 15:59

If you do a search on youtube you will find several video on go arounds at this airport, so I think go arounds are more common than some of the respondents above indicate.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is more of a comment than an answer. Once you gain enough reputation, you will be able to comment on any post. $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree with the comments. This is very much an answer, even if it is a short one and not very well documented $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 20:15

You can not go around at Lukla, but if you try super hard, with a bit of luck, you might be able to turn back. But it wouldn't look like a normal go around. The reason for this is because Lukla is right in front of a huge mountain, And you won't have enough speed to climb fast enough.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I fail to see what this answer brings that is not already in other answers. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 7:05

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