Why helicopter can’t fly to Everest?

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The world’s highest peak, Mount Everest (8,848.86m/29.031ft), is an ultimate challenge for mountaineers and their endurance capacity. There have been lots of advancements in equipment as well as aviation. Despite that, helicopters face various obstacles such as technical, environmental, and safety factors, which make flight over Everest difficult.

Reasons for Helicopters not being able to fly to Everest

Environmental Factors

The prime reason for helicopters not being able to fly to Everest is the extreme environmental conditions. The oxygen level at such elevation is very thin, only about a third of the oxygen compared to sea level. Due to this thin oxygen level, the helicopters find it really hard to generate enough lift to stay airborne.

Likewise, Everest is known for its extremely unpredictable weather conditions. High speed of wind; can reach up to 20-30km/h, extreme cold, and frequent storms can create difficulties in flying helicopters to the summit of Everest. The cold temperate also hampers the helicopter’s engine, fuel injection, and hydraulic systems, which makes Everset Base Camp Helicopter Tour more dangerous.

Technical Factors

The physical design of the helicopter and its operation limits specifically make it difficult to fly to the summit of Everest. Some of the helicopters are not allowed to fly over 5,500m height. Also, with the increasing altitude, the performance of the helicopter can drop significantly. The weight; of passengers, equipment, fuel, etc., carried by helicopters can also play a vital role in reducing the ability of helicopters to fly to high altitudes, particularly to Everest’s summit.

Safety Factors

Environmental and technical factors are not the only factors that make flight to the summit dangerous, the passenger’s and pilots’ safety and psychological condition is a paramount concern. With the increase in altitude, one might be a victim of hypoxia or oxygen deficiency, making their judgment and reaction time questionable. Due to that, a huge loss of life can occur.

Possible Dangers that come with Helicopter Flight to Everest

  1. Drop in engine and rotor performance: The performance of a helicopter’s engine and rotors can decrease significantly at high altitudes.
  2. Helicopter’s weight carrying capacity: To make flights to higher altitudes, the helicopters should carry less weight, or the transport of additional passengers or other equipment might not be possible.
  3. Hypoxia: With reduced oxygen level in the body, it impairs judgment and reaction time, creating danger to pilots and passengers.
  4. Mechanical failure: The extreme condition weather of Everest can affect the engine performance, fuel injection, and hydraulics.
  5. Weather conditions: High speed of wind, severe cold, and constant storms make flying dangerous.
  6. Challenge in rescue and emergency: The remote conditions and rugged landscape of Everest could reduce the chances of successful rescue.

How to avoid dangers

  • Use helicopters that are specifically designed to operate at high altitudes and can carry more weight.
  • Monitoring and pre-planning for any changes in weather conditions.
  • The pilot and rescue team should be well-trained for extreme conditions at Everest.
  • All, the pilot, passenger, and rescue team, should be physically and mentally fit in case of any emergencies.


Although, helicopter operations to high altitudes have made a significant contribution, thin air, harsh weather conditions, and technical dangers make it dangerous for helicopters to fly to Everest. It could lead to unforeseen accidents. Claiming the summit of Everest is unquestionably hard and only the determined and strong-willed can achieve it on foot.

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