Who Knew – Cruise Ships Can Cause Landing Issues for Airplanes at Some Airports!

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For fun my two passions are aviation and cruising. That is good as the fun begins for me with the travel to the ship and then continues after I get off the ship somewhat lessening the melancholy you feel departing your cruise the last day.

I also love looking at airports either in the air or from other tall things – like a ship. I wish I could remember just what island this was in the photo above that I shot, but it looks like a fun landing with not that much land before the runway. Now not as stunning as landing at SXM Princess Juliana International Airport. If you have never been to Maho Beach on a cruise you must go – it is such a rush and fun day.

I don’t think at SXM pilots have to worry about mega cruise ships or mega container ships impeding their approach to the airport but that is not the case at all airports. Take a look at the video below of the approach to Logan International Airport in Boston runway 4R.

 

Stunning right? I mean I would have considered going around until this ship had a chance to get out of the way? TheDrive.com had an interesting quote from an FAA spokesperson that said:

The SOP includes procedures that controllers should use when a tall vessel is in the channel. Different procedures apply based on vessel size ranging from no action, to a verbal warning to pilots to visually observe the vessel, to prohibiting approach when very tall vessels exceeding height limits are close by.”

I don’t know of all the other airports around the world that may have to deal with tall ships on approach (or takeoff for that matter). Some that I can think of off the top of my head would be Madeira Airport in Funchal, Portugal where I have visited a number of times on ships (that airport is elevated from the sea so maybe not) and then maybe Gibraltar International Airport?

a plane flying over a body of water

I don’t think Rio’s airport is impacted but while departing we did get some very cool shots from our forward balcony after our crossing on the NCL Star this past fall.

Maybe readers can help out and chime in with other near shipping lane airport runways that have to make adjustments due to the locations? Also I would love to know if you have ever been on a ship and experienced something like the video above from Boston? – René

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René de Lambert
René de Lamberthttp://www.FrequentFloaters.com
René de Lambert has been a travel blogger for over 10 years covering the travel industry - including cruising.

6 COMMENTS

  1. PHL has an airport operations person stationed in the tower on top of the terminal to monitor ship traffic on the Delaware River for purposes of stopping/starting operations on runway 17/35 (the north/south crosswind runway usually used by commuters, but often 737/A319 will land) due to clearance on the approach to 35 over the river.

  2. No need for the pilot to go around in the Boston case. The ship was not as close as it seems, the pilot went slightly above the glide slope to maintain a safe distance. The real danger when flying in to Boston is the very tall container ship cranes when moved to a ship that is docked directly on the center line for runway 4 right. When this happens the tower will let pilots know and that raises the approach minimums by 150 ft. It’s just another normal day when flying into Boston. As for SXM, the port is far enough away so ships are never an issue. However the terrain to the east of the airport is a big hazard and requires special procedures if the aircraft were to have an engine failure during takeoff.

  3. Last time I was in the Boston Skyclub looking out the window I was surprised to see the cruise ships so close to the airport….

  4. St. Lucia. We had to delay a sail away for short while in order to allow a plane to land. The runway is right next to the channel into the port.

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