The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that commercial service airports, regulated under Part 139 safety rules and federally obligated, have a standard Runway Safety Area (RSA) where possible. The RSA is typically 500 feet wide and extends 1,000 feet beyond each end of the runway. The FAA has this requirement in the event that an aircraft overruns, undershoots, or veers off the side of the runway. Many airports were built before the 1,000-foot RSA length was adopted some 20 years ago, and it is not practicable to achieve the full standard RSA. This is due to obstacles such as bodies of water, highways, railroads, and populated areas or severe drop-off of terrain.
The FAA began conducting research in the 1990s to determine how to ensure maximum safety at airports where the full RSA cannot be obtained. Working in concert with the University of Dayton, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation (ESCO) of Logan Township, NJ, a new technology emerged to safely arrest overrunning aircraft. EMAS uses crushable concrete placed at the end of a runway to stop an aircraft that overruns the runway. The tires of the aircraft sink into the lightweight concrete and the aircraft is decelerated as it rolls through the material.
Benefits of the EMAS Technology
The EMAS technology improves safety benefits in cases where land is not available, or not possible to have the standard 1,000-foot overrun. A standard EMAS installation extends 600 feet from the end of the runway. An EMAS arrestor bed can be installed to help slow or stop an aircraft that overruns the runway, even if less than 600 feet of land is available.
Current FAA Initiatives
The Office of Airports prepared an RSA improvement plan for the runways at approximately 575 commercial airports in 2005. This plan allows the agency to track the progress and to direct federal funds for making all practicable improvements, including the use of EMAS technology. Of the approximately 1,000 RSAs at these airports, an estimated 65 percent have been improved to full standards, and an estimated 90 percent have been improved to the extent practicable, not including the relocation of FAA-owned navigational equipment.
Presently, the EMAS system developed by ESCO using crushable concrete is the only system that meets the FAA standard. The FAA has conducted research through the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) that examined a number of alternatives to the existing approved system. ACRP Report 29, Developing Improved Civil Aircraft Arresting Systems, is available at the Transportation Research Board.
Many of the EMAS beds installed prior to 2006 need periodic re-painting to maintain the integrity and functionality of the bed. The EMAS manufacturer has developed improved plastic seal coating for EMAS beds. This new coasting should eliminate the need for the periodic re-painting.
To date, there have been eight incidents where EMAS has safely stopped overrunning aircraft with a total of 235 crew and passengers aboard those flights.
|Date||Crew and passengers||Incident|
|May 1999||30||A Saab 340 commuter aircraft overran the runway at JFK|
|May 2003||3||A Gemini Cargo MD-11 overran the runway at JFK|
|January 2005||3||A Boeing 747 overran the runway at JFK|
|July 2006||5||A Mystere Falcon 900 overran the runway at Greenville Downtown Airport in South Carolina|
|July 2008||145||An Airbus A320 overran the runway at ORD|
|January 2010||34||A Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jet overran the runway at Yeager Airport in Charleston, WVA|
|October 2010||10||A G-4 Gulfstream overran the runway at Teterboro Airport in Teterboro, NJ|
|November 2011||5||A Cessna Citation II overran the runway at Key West International Airport in Key West, FL|
Currently, EMAS is installed at 63 runway ends at 42 airports in the United States, with plans to install five EMAS systems at four additional U.S. airports.
|Airport||Location||# of Systems||Installation Date(s)|
|( ): Bed replaced|
*: Widened in 2008
**: General aviation airport
***: retrofitted bed
+: Reliever airport
|JFK International||Jamaica, NY||2||1996(1999)/2007|
|Minneapolis St. Paul||Minneapolis, MN||1||1999(2008)|
|Little Rock||Little Rock, AR||2||2000/2003|
|Rochester International||Rochester, NY||1||2001|
|Baton Rouge Metropolitan||Baton Rouge, LA||1||2002|
|Greater Binghamton||Binghamton, NY||2||2002/2009***|
|Greenville Downtown||Greenville, SC||1||2003**/2010***|
|Barnstable Municipal||Hyannis, MA||1||2003|
|Roanoke Regional||Roanoke, VA||1||2004|
|Fort Lauderdale International||Fort Lauderdale, FL||2||2004|
|Dutchess County||Poughkeepsie, NY||1||2004**|
|Boston Logan||Boston, MA||2||2005/2006|
|Laredo International||Laredo, TX||1||2006|
|San Diego International||San Diego, CA||1||2006|
|Chicago Midway||Chicago, IL||4||2006/2007|
|Merle K (Mudhole) Smith||Cordova, AK||1||2007|
|Charleston Yeager||Charleston, WV||1||2007|
|Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Intl.||Wilkes-Barre, PA||2||2008|
|San Luis Obispo||San Luis Obispo, CA||2||2008|
|Newark Liberty International||Newark, NJ||1||2008|
|Charlotte Douglas International||Charlotte, NC||1||2008|
|St. Paul Downtown||St. Paul, MN||2||2008+|
|Worcester Regional||Worcester, MA||2||2008/2009**|
|Reading, Regional||Reading, PA||1||2009**|
|Kansas City Downtown||Kansas City, MO||2||2009+/2010|
|Smith Reynolds||Winston-Salem, NC||1||2010|
|New Castle County||Wilmington, DE||1||2010|
|Key West International||Key West, FL||1||2010|
|Telluride Regional||Telluride, CO||2||2010|
|Palm Beach||Palm Beach, FL||1||2011|
|Martin County||Stuart, FL||2||2011|
|Lafayette||Lafayette, LA||1||summer 2011|
|Cleveland Hopkins||Cleveland, OH||2||fall 2011|
|Groton||Groton-New London, CT||2||fall 2011|
|Augusta State||Augusta, ME||2||fall 2011|
Additional projects currently under contract
|Airport||Location||# of Systems||Expected Installation Date|
|Elmira-Corning||Elmira, NY||1||summer 2012|
|Binghamton||Binghamton, NY||1||summer 2012 (replacement bed)|
|Boston Logan||Boston, MA||1||fall 2012 (replacement bed)|
|Trenton-Mercer||Trenton, NJ||2||summer/fall 2012|