Ultimate Airports: Funchal


The Portuguese autonomous region of Madeira is 400 miles west of the African coast of Morocco and 105 miles (165km) northwest of the Spanish Canary Islands.

Comprising five main land masses, the largest is Madeira Island, covering 309sq miles (801km²). The islands are served by two gateways, the larger being Funchal/Cristiano Ronaldo and the other Porto Santo, situated on the island of the same name, which predominantly hosts seasonal flights. It is the former which is known for its windy approaches as seen by millions through viral videos.

The airfield’s runway extension is often described as looking like a bridge.

The facility’s 9,124ft (2,781m) Runway 05/23 has the Atlantic on one side and 6,000ft (1,829m) mountains on the other, which generate tricky winds on the approach. The landing strip was originally extended following the crash of a TAP Air Portugal Boeing 727-200, CS-TBR (c/n 20972), in November 1977. The latest expansion took place in 2000 and is built on a series of pillars laid into the cliff, looking rather like a bridge.

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