June 10, 2023

Madeira Airport (additionally identified informally as Funchal Airport and formally because the Cristiano Ronaldo Worldwide Airport) is the one airport serving the Portuguese island of Madeira. It’s positioned in a tough space, surrounded by mountains and the ocean, making each the flying method and airport building tough. There have been two main runway extensions, although, as airport use has elevated – the latest involving a formidable bridge-based extension.

The unique brief runway

Madeira/Funchal Airport opened in 1964, with only one runway (05/23 because it stays at this time) with a size of 1,600 meters (5,249 ft). Tourism was increasing on the island, and the airport was seen as important to help this.


The touchdown on the airport right now was thought of probably the most difficult in Europe. It stays tough at this time with changeable climate and wind circumstances, however with the brief runway, it was much more so.

Climate and site made it a tough airport to land at. Picture: Getty Photographs

The method for runway 05 particularly requires a decent flip because of surrounding mountains, and a brief remaining method. There’s additionally no ILS out there, so solely visible landings (there may be ILS out there for landings on runway 23 if circumstances permit). The brief runway had sea cliffs at both finish.

The runway ends with a drop over sea cliffs. Picture: Getty Photographs

The primary extension in 1986

The choice was made within the late Seventies to increase the runway. This was pushed by the rise in tourism, and thus air site visitors, to the island. An extended runway would permit bigger plane to land. It will even be safer. In November 1977, there was a devastating crash of a Boeing 727 plane working a TAP Air Portugal flight from Brussels and Lisbon to Madeira. The plane landed in poor climate (sturdy winds, rain, and low visibility), making two missed approaches earlier than trying a remaining third method. The plane touched down, however over 600 meters alongside the runway. Within the moist situation, it hydroplaned and the pilots had been unable to cease the plane earlier than the top of the runway. It overshot the runway and fell over the cliffs onto the seaside beneath. Of the 156 passengers and eight crew onboard, 131 had been killed.

Work on runway extension started in 1982 and was accomplished in February 1986. This prolonged the one runway to 1,800 meters (5,906 ft).

The second extension in 2002

Continued progress in tourism because the prolonged runway opened within the Nineteen Eighties meant an extra extension was quickly thought of. This time it was a lot more durable. All out there land had been used, so the runway would must be prolonged over the ocean. Landfill from the shoreline was not doable, and engineers as a substitute opted to construct the extension on a platform.

This time the runway was prolonged to 2,781 meters (9,124 ft), with building going down from 2000 to 2002. This extension was achieved by constructing a bridge 57 meters above the water, supported by a construction of 180 pillars. This bridge, 180 meters huge and simply over one kilometer lengthy, was sufficiently strengthened to hold the runway. The spectacular design received an “Excellent Construction Award” in 2004 from the Worldwide Affiliation for Bridge and Structural Engineering.

Runway and airport enhancements in 2016

Madeira Airport underwent an intensive renovation and improve program in 2016. The runway was not prolonged as a part of this, nevertheless it was additional strengthened. The airport apron and taxiways had been redesigned, growing the airport’s usable space by 1,500 sq. meters.

The opposite a part of this improve focussed on the terminal and airport services. This was the primary main enlargement because the airport opened. The terminal was prolonged, with a brand new business space, and bigger passenger screening and ready areas. The airport claims with the brand new services, it could course of as much as 1,400 passengers per hour, up from 720 passengers.

Have you ever flown into Madeira Airport? Do you recall the method and the runway? Be happy to share your experiences within the feedback.