Tunnel runways are first of their kind
ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra — This Southwestern European microstate, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France, has never had its own airport. It’s rugged mountains and narrow valleys have prevented any aircraft except helicopters from serving the country. However, in an announcement here today, the sixth-smallest nation in Europe, will be getting an international airport to rival those of both of its neighbors.
Under a design and construction contract with Airportale International, LLC, the Amsterdam construction firm known for its unconventional airport projects, the Andorrable International Airport, shown here in an artist’s rendering, will be constructed just east of Vallnord Mountain Park, a world-class ski and mountain bike venue.
At a press conference here, Klause VanDenHeider, Airportale International’s project manager, pointed to the unique advantage of the enclosed mountain runways. “During take-off,” said VanDenHeider, "an aircraft’s engines build up air pressure behind the aircraft because there is no outlet for the air. This built-up pressure then helps to propel an aircraft down the runway. Similarly, air pressure built-up in front of an aircraft when landing in the tunnel-like runway will help to slow it. Consequently, we were able to reduce the length of the runways by nearly 40 percent.”
According to Airportale International, Andorrable International Airport will begin receiving regularly scheduled narrow-bodied commercial flights next year and wide-bodied flights the following year.