The World’s Most Dangerous Approach – Paro, Bhutan

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– I’m going to fly on Bhutan
Airlines 8319 on a flight to Paro. – Our boarding time is 8:13, and after the immigration checks, on the right-hand side, there is the Radisson lounge and you can use the Radisson lounge, okay? Have a nice flight, sir. – [Sam] Thank you. (upbeat music) You can use your credit
card, a Lounge Key or a Priority Pass to come to the lounge. (upbeat music) Good morning from
Kathmandu Airport Lounge. And today I’m going to
fly to Paro, Bhutan. If you don’t know where Bhutan is, it’s a landlocked country in the Himalayas between China, India, and Nepal. But as an Aviation geek, Bhutan
is very special because Bhutan is well known for its dangerous and unique approach in to their airport. The airport is situated between
the mountains in the valley. So guys, I’m very excited,
and let’s go and fly. (aeroplane engine roaring) – This is our plane, welcome aboard. – Hot towel sir ? – [Sam] Thank you. – What would you like to drink sir? There’s a drink menu. Please turn to the list, sir. – [Sam] Orange juice. (upbeat music) – Hello, and welcome aboard, Sam. My name is Chenga, and I’m the Chief Pilot
of Bhutan Airlines. Today, the flight will be
from Kathmandu to Paro. The flight time will be just about approximately about 40 minutes. And today we are expecting
to climb at least around, subject to traffic, around
33,000 or maybe 35,000 feet, and we’re expecting good
weather on this route. And as we, maybe after 15 minutes or so, we might see Mount
Everest, so as we go I’ll, I’ll point them out to you. Thank you, welcome aboard. (upbeat music) – Cockpit? – [Cockpit] Yes, sir? – We’re just scanning hand signals
on the right, thank you. (cockpit responds) Bye-bye. (upbeat music) – Bhutan Air 774 to depart next (tower responds) Next to all the plane, the
co-run is 02 Bhutan Air 774. (Chenga speaking softly)
Clear, I said. Next to all the plane a
co-run is 02 Bhutan Air 774. Are we clear to Paro, Gulf 34872708. This one ground departure,
Smoke 2510 Bhutan Air 774. (plane engine roaring) Before takeoff check list. – Right.
– Flight controls? – Check.
– Check. Flight instruments?
– Check. – Check, briefing?
– Confirmed. – Flaps setting?
(Chenga speaks softly) V1, VR, V2, flex temperature?
– 1-2-7, 1-2-7, 1-40-8. – What?
– Flex 50. – 1-2-7, 1-2-7, 1-4-8, flex 5-0. ATC, set. ECAM Memo?
– I don’t know who. – Down with the 90. – Today, we are lucky. Fortunately, not much traffic, But, most of the time, because of the traffic conditions and the parking stands, we end up holding sometimes for almost 45 minutes or at least one hour. We can end up waiting for that long
but today we are fortunate. – [Tower] Bhutan Air
774 line up on the 02. – [Copilot] Line up on
the 02, Bhutan Air 774. (upbeat music)
(plane engine roaring) [Cheng] So we have the backs all green. (audio from tower)
(copilot speaking) – Runway 02, confirm.
(audio from tower] Cabin crew?
– Advised. (Copilot speaking)
– We are ready. (Cheng and copilot speaking) – Packs?
– On. – Before lift off checklist?
– Done. – Okay, done. (upbeat music) – [Tower] Bhutan Air 774,
clear (muffled instructions) Runway 02, clear for takeoff. – [Copilot] Take this one (muffled speech) Clear for takeoff, Runway
02, Bhutan Air 774. – [Cheng] Are you ready? Ready?
– Ready. – Ready, go. – Stabilised.
(plan engine revving) (audio from tower) – Check. We’re all set. (plane engine roaring) – [Tower] 4519 (muffled instructions) (Copilot and tower conversing) (plane rattling) – 3-1. Rocking. (plane engine rattling) All systems light up. – Yep. Check. (audio from tower) – [Cheng] (speaking softly) Bhutan Air 774 (speaking softly) – [Tower] Bhutan Air 774 Continue climb to flight level, 2-7-0 continue to climb. – Correcting the plan level
2-7-0-8 Bhutan Air 774. (upbeat music) – [Tower] Bhatan Air 774
input crossing level. – [Cheng] Crossing 8,300 Bhutan Air 774. – [Tower] Bhutan 774 identified. – Between Kathmandu and
New Delhi you see almost the top 10 highest mountains
in the world, except K2. – On the centre, just between the… within
a span of less than two hours, you almost see the top 10 highest
mountains in the world. So exactly left of me, that is Cho Oyu. That is the 6th highest
mountain in the world. And you can see a pointed peak there with some snow getting blown off. That is Everest. That is the highest point
around Mount Everest. The height is measured at 8,850 metres. And just close to Mt. Everest
you see another mountain. That is Lhotse. That is supposed to be
the 4th highest mountain in the world, Mount Lhotse. And the height of Mount
Lhotse is 8,516 metres. The last one that you see is Mount Makalu. That is number five, 5th
highest mountain in the world. And the height of Mount
Makalu is 8,463 metres. (upbeat music) Around twenty years back, we used to find that this
area had a lot of snow. A lot of snow between
this Himalayan range. But as you can see, you know, now we don’t see much snow. Sadly, I think that clearly shows that global warming is
taking a big role here. (upbeat music) – It’s a 40-minute flight. This is very nice. This is like a chicken
pie here, very nice. Cheers. – I’d like to welcome you on board. – Wow. – This is something just yours. – Wow, so nice, thank you so much. – This is a welcome gift
to welcome you to town. – Wow, look at this. It says, “Bhutan Airlines
welcomes you on board.” Beautiful cake. Let’s enjoy this cake
together with all the crew. The captain, first officer. You guys are so kind. Lets share with everyone
later when we land in Paro. – Sure, sir. – Yeah? Alright, excellent. Thank you so much. (soft music) – [Cheng] There, that’s Bhutan Mountain. The left one is Jomolhari, that is the second highest mountain in Bhutan. – [Sam] Oh! – [Cheng] Yeah,and slightly
to the right is Jitchu Drake. Then we have Masangang,
then it’s Balonchista. Sam, so what we are going to do now… We have just about 14 miles to go and then we will have the visual. So normally, once we have the
visual, we always turn this GPWS system off. Because normally it’s a known standard. We’re supposed to follow the
instruction of what the… That means we are close to the mountains. Since we have the visual, we
always turn this one off. (signal beep) – GPWS off?
– Yeah. (plane engine roaring) (beep) Once you push it, the GPWS will fall. (mechanical whining)
Gear down. (plane engine roaring) Bhutan Air 774. – [Tower] Bhutan Air 774
(muffled instructions). – So the airport is just here behind this. Just behind this cloud. So what we’re doing is
we’re landing on Runway 3-3. So Sam, our viewer is just
over the hill, just over there. The reason why we had to keep this viewer is just to get the signal. Normally, the viewer is right at the airfield next to the runway. Here, in order to get the signal, the concept people are quickly going in order to get the signal. So we are just over the hill, and the airfield is just behind the hill. – [Sam] Right. – [Cheng] So what we’re doing is we’re trying to lose the height and trying to fly between the valley. And then our aim is to… You can see there’s a bridge there. – [Sam] Yeah. – That’s where we’re aiming there and we’re looking for about 12,000 feet. And we call this a confluence because this is where two rivers from Thimphu
and Paro meet. So we are heading towards the bridge, and then we’re going to
make a slight left turn and head towards the airfield. You can see the airfield just now. Now you don’t see it. You’ll see airfield
only at the last minute. Only at the last moment
will you be able to see over there, because of the hills. – [Sam] Ah, it’s hiding. – It’s hiding, yeah. – [Sam] Yeah. – Let’s do it, the landing checklist. – [Copilot] Landing checklist. Cabin crew? – Advised.
– Cabin crew. – Advised.
– Autothrust? – Speed.
– Autobrakes? ECAM MEMO?
– Steady. – And I’m a Buddhist so
I have to pray to God. And we have a lot of monasteries here. Can you see there’s a
lot of monasteries here? There, one monastery there, one monastery, and one is below here. We have a lot of monasteries here. (plane engine roaring) – [Electronic Voice] 2,500. – [Copilot] Bhutan Air
774 (speaking softly). (plane engine roaring)
(mechanical whirring) – We have a… you can see
there’s another monastery here. There, one more monastery,
there’s Paro Taktsang. It’s a very popular monastery. And, further left, you
can see another monastery. (plane engine roaring)
(solemn music) – [Electronic Voice] 1,000. – [Copilot] Flight, stabilised. – [Electronic Voice] 500. – [Electronic Voice] 500. – [Electronic Voice] 200. – [Electronic Voice] 50. – [Electronic Voice] 40, 30, 20, retard, retard, retard, retard. – [Copilot] Spoilers. GUSB? It’s in. (plane engine roaring) (Copilot speaking softly) (Audio from tower)
(Mechanical clicking) (Audio from tower) (upbeat music) – I never could dream of doing a landing into Paro, the world’s
most challenging airport. I just want to know, is it only captains that can land
at this airport, I heard? – Yes, only captains are allowed here. – Only captains allowed. – Yes, captains are allowed, and it will take a minimum of at least, a minimum of eight to 10 years
to qualify for the captains. – Eight to 10 years for first officers- – Minimum. – to become a captain
to land at this airport. – Yes, that’s minimum. – I heard also, like,
there’s only like 15 captains certified and qualified to land here. – Approximately, we have local pilots, about 15, approximately 15 local pilots. – Thrilling. It’s thrilling, really thrilling. Until last minute, you turn
and you see the runway. – [Cheng] Welcome to Bhutan. – [Sam] Amazing, thank
you, sir, thank you. – [Cheng] I’m sure more than landing, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Bhutan, as well. – Thank you so much
for the cake, everyone. It’s so amazing and such an honour to come to the beautiful
country of Bhutan. (speaking foreign language) (clapping)
– It’s a beautiful cake. (speaking foreign language) (powerful music) – I’m already doing plane spotting, 10 minutes after landing. So this is the beautiful
Paro International Airport. From this view point here, really high up, you can see the whole terminal. Beautiful day, and you
can also see da tzong, which is like a palace museum of Paro, and then you can see the
mountains with snow cover. (plane taking off) (birds chirping)
(plane engine roaring) (whooshing) (ding)
(popping)

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