Fact Check: Santos Dumont Airport In Rio De Janeiro Does NOT Have A 1,300-foot Runway

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Santos Dumont Airport In Rio De Janeiro Does NOT Have A 1,300-foot Runway Not So Short

Is the Santos Dumont Airport runway only 1,300 feet long? No, that's not true: The runway was 1,300 feet long back in 1934 when the airport was first being developed. The runway size was increased with improvements over time and currently the main runway is 4,340 feet long.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) posted on Facebook on October 11, 2020. It was captioned:

The plane landed at the most t.errifying airport -Santos Dumont Airport.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Oct 30 17:24:31 2020 UTC)

The video shows the dramatic landscape of Rio De Janeiro and two different airplanes approaching and landing at Santos Dumont Airport. Several of the claims in these video captions:

  • Where most airports opt for landing strips of 6,000 feet or more, not so for Santos Dumont Airport. At this airport, you can expect to be thrown violently against the seat in front of you as your plane jerks to a stop on the 1,300 foot runway!
  • Oh, and the airport is located on a rather small island, so a miss means, well a free trip to the underwater aquarium.
  • In July 2007, Santos Dumont was the home to the worst air disaster in Brazillian history. More than 200 people lost their lives because of a plane crash.
  • SDA is the second major airport in Rio de Janeiro, and one of the busiest airports in the world.

The landing strip at the Santos Dumont Airport has not always been the same size. Originally the airport was a terminal that served seaplanes landing in the Guanabara Bay. In 1934 there was a project fill part of the way to construct a runway. The landfill project continued over several years and the original 400-meter runway (1,300 feet) was expanded to 700 meters (2,300 feet) in 1936. That year the airport was named Santos Dumont, after Alberto Santos-Dumont, Brazialian pioneer in flight.

Currently there are two runways, the main runway is 1,320 meters long (that's 4,340 feet!), not 1,300 feet long as claimed in the video. Below is a screenshot of a Google map satellite view of Rio De Janeiro showing the measurement of the runway. It is clear this manmade landfill is not an island, although it is true that overshooting the runway would result in a nay landing. This airport's runway is large enough to handle Boeing 737 and Airbus A230 planes.

SantosDumont.JPGOn July 17, 2007 there was a terrible plane crash in Brazil, but it did not involve the Santos Dumont Airport. The crash happened at the Sao Paulo Congonhas Airport and there were no survivors among the plane's passengers or crew. Additionally, there were 12 people on the ground who were killed. The report on the crash of TAM Flight 3054 is recorded by the Aviation Safety Network from the Flight Safety Foundation. There were a total of 199 lives lost.

Santos Dumont Airport is the second busiest airport in Rio de Janeiro, the busiest being Galeao International Airport. It is the seventh busiest airport in Brazil, with the busiest being Guarulhos International Airport which has almost 40 million people passing through every year. Santos Dumont Airport does not come anywhere close to being one of the busiest airports in the world. In recent years about 9,000,000 travelers annually got to experience the thrill of those runways by the bay.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Southeastern Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


 

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