Cockpit Flight Challenge – Paro to Kathmandu over Himalayas

Flying out of Paro, Bhutan on Bhutan Airlines A319 to Kathmandu, Nepal all the way in the cockpit. Watch the exciting departure out of Paro by climbing out of many mountain surroundings.

The flight is just 40 minutes across the Himalayas but it is one of the most challenging flight to operate with many restrictions and flow control.

Watch this video to see the challenge out of Bhutan and flying into Kathmandu. Enjoy the exciting cockpit footage on takeoff and landing.


Join us for this special video, the third in a series highlighting the perils, delights and excellent views experienced flying between Nepal and Bhutan, making use of Kathmandu Airport and also the famous Paro airport, where only trained captains are permitted to take off and land due to the challenging geography of the airport, which sees Paro airport at the bottom of a deep valley surrounded by the tallest mountains in the world, the Himalayas.

See part one of the series, our amazing flight from Kathmandu airport to Paro airport here:

See part two of the series, consisting of an extended and highly enjoyable plane spotting session at Paro airport here:

In this video, we fly back to Kathmandu airport from Paro airport on Bhutan airlines. Before saying goodbye to Paro in Bhutan, we take a moment to admire the very beautiful and unique decoration of the passenger terminal of the remote Paro airport with its polished, wooden check in counters each with a different, intricately patterned artwork attached – the passenger terminal building was constructed back in 1999 and retains, to this day, a lot of unique and aged character which you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

We also take the opportunity to explore the business class lounge of Paro airport; despite the airport’s remote location, there is still a fantastic selection of food and drink available.

Up in the air, we are once again in the hands of an expertly trained captain, the highly competent Captain Senga, letting us relax and enjoy the stunning views of the mountains and clouds. We also have the opportunity to sample the onboard hospitality of Bhutan airlines, with a free hot towel and provided snack, some delicious hot sausage rolls, to keep us ticking over on our short flight.

Particular viewing highlights in the video include a breath-taking view of Mount Kangchenjunga, which stands at 8,586 metres tall, the third tallest mountain in the world, and a magnificent view of Paro airport shortly after departure, showing how it is deeply sunk in to its surrounding valley.

We have a little bit more time to admire the view as we are held circling in the air, 50 kilometres south of Kathmandu airport due to traffic congestion. Kathmandu airport only has nine parking stands for 42 international airlines and has only a single, bumpy, concrete runway meaning that traffic congestion at the airport is often a problem.

There is also no instrument landing system available at Kathmandu airport (also known as Tribhuvan International Airport) and we have an in-depth discussion and educational insight from the Captain surrounding the consequences of this – when flying in to Kathmandu airport, it is necessary to make use of the VOR or RNAV (RNP) approach system. The Kathmandu viewer has a non-precision approach, with the required visibility at the airport normally being a minimum of 3000 feet. Between December and February, visibility coming in to Kathmandu airport is often less than this, making things extra challenging for pilots trying to land there.

We hope you enjoyed the flight from Paro to Kathmandu – let us know what you thought of the whole exciting journey in the comments below and as always, thanks for watching!


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