Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS)

Thursday, July 29, 2021


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) actively worked to improve runway safety areas (RSAs) at commercial service airports by the end of 2015. The RSA is typically 500 feet wide and extends 1,000 feet beyond each end of the runway. It provides a graded area in the event that an aircraft overruns, undershoots, or veers off the side of the runway. Many airports were built before the current 1,000-foot RSA standard was adopted approximately 20 years ago. In some cases, it is not practicable to achieve the full standard RSA because there may be a lack of available land. There also may be 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 improve 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, now Runway Safe Inc., of Logan Township, NJ, a new technology emerged to safely arrest overrunning aircraft. EMAS uses crushable material placed at the end of a runway to stop an aircraft that overruns the runway. The tires of the aircraft sink into the lightweight material 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 can stop an aircraft from overrunning the runway at approximately 80 miles per hour. An EMAS arrestor bed can be installed to help slow or stop an aircraft that overruns the runway, even if less than a standard RSA length is available.

EMAS Manufacturers

Runway Safe acquired the EMASMAX product range from ESCO as of February 2020. Runway Safe is the sole manufacturer of EMAS products that meet the FAA requirements of advisory circular 150-5220-22B, “Engineered Materials Arresting Systems for Aircraft Overruns.” Currently, Runway Safe has two EMAS systems, the cellular concrete block system called EMASMAX and the silica foam system called greenEMAS.

The FAA must still review and approve each EMAS installation.

EMASMAX® is the latest, most durable version of Runway Safe’s block based EMAS, developed with and technically accepted by the FAA. EMASMAX arrestor beds are composed of blocks of lightweight, crushable cellular cement material designed to safely stop airplanes that overshoot runways.

Runway Safe’s greenEMAS® is a foamed silica bed which is made from recycled glass and is contained within a high-strength plastic mesh system anchored to the pavement at the end of the runway. The foamed silica is poured into lanes bounded by the mesh and covered with a poured cement layer and treated with a top coat of sealant. 

Both EMAS products are located at the end of the runway and are typically the full width of the runway. The length depends on the airport configuration and the aircraft fleet using the airport.

The Runway Safe Group and Safran Aerospace Arresting (formerly Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation, or ESCO), a subsidiary of the Safran Group entered into an agreement for Runway Safe to acquire the ESCO EMAS business. This transaction was completed in February of 2020.

Current FAA Initiatives

The FAA's Office of Airports has made RSA improvements at more than 500 commercial airports. This means that all practicable improvements, including the use of EMAS technology, have been made at approximately 1,000 runway ends at these airports. These RSAs have been improved to full standards or to the extent practicable, not including the relocation of FAA-owned navigational equipment. As a result of the success in addressing commercial airport RSA’s, the Office of Airports has started a similar investigation into the potential to improve General Aviation RSA’s across the Country.

EMAS Arrestments

To date, there have been 17 incidents where EMAS systems have safely stopped 17 overrunning aircraft, carrying 417 crew and passengers, aboard those flights.

EMAS Arrestments
DateCrew and PassengersIncident
May 199930A Saab 340 commuter aircraft overran the runway at JFK Airport in New York
May 20033A Gemini Cargo MD-11 overran the runway at JFK Airport in New York
January 20053A Boeing 747 overran the runway at JFK Airport in New York
July 20065A Mystere Falcon 900 overran the runway at Greenville Downtown Airport in South Carolina
July 2008145An Airbus A320 overran the runway at Chicago O'Hare Airport in Chicago, IL
January 201034A Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jet overran the runway at Yeager Airport in Charleston, WVA
October 201010A G-4 Gulfstream overran the runway at Teterboro Airport in Teterboro, NJ
November 20115A Cessna Citation II overran the runway at Key West International Airport in Key West, FL
October 20138A Cessna 680 Citation overran the runway at Palm Beach International in West Palm Beach, FL
January 20162A Falcon 20 overran the runway at Chicago Executive Airport in Chicago, IL
October 201637A Boeing 737 overran the runway at LaGuardia Airport in Flushing, NY
April 20172A Cessna 750 Citation overran the runway at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA
February 20184A Beech Jet 400A overran the runway at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, OH
December 2018117A Boeing 737 overran the runway at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA
February 20191An Embraer Phenom 100 overran the runway in Kansas City, MO
February 20212A Dassault F900 overran the runway at Chicago Executive-Wheeling, IL
July 20219A Cessna Citation Excel overran the runway at Reading, PA

EMAS Installations with EMASMAX

EMASMAX is installed at 111 runway ends at 66 airports in the United States.

EMAS Installations
AirportLocation# of SystemsInstallation Date(s)
+ Reliever airport
JFK InternationalJamaica, NY21996(1999)/2007 (2014)
Minneapolis St. PaulMinneapolis, MN11999(2008)
Little RockLittle Rock, AR22000/2003 (2018)
Rochester InternationalRochester, NY12001
BurbankBurbank, CA12002* (2017)
Baton Rouge MetropolitanBaton Rouge, LA12002
Greater BinghamtonBinghamton, NY22002 (2012)/2009***
Greenville DowntownGreenville, SC12003**/2010***
Barnstable MunicipalHyannis, MA12003
Roanoke RegionalRoanoke, VA12004
Fort Lauderdale InternationalFort Lauderdale, FL42004 (2019), 2014
LaGuardiaFlushing, NY42005 (2014)/2015
Boston LoganBoston, MA22005/2006 (2012)/(2014)
Laredo InternationalLaredo, TX12006/2012***
San Diego InternationalSan Diego, CA12006
TeterboroTeterboro, NJ32006+/2011/2013
Chicago MidwayChicago, IL0Replaced
Merle K (Mudhole) SmithCordova, AK12007
Charleston YeagerCharleston, WV12007 (2019)
ManchesterManchester, NH12007
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Intl.Wilkes-Barre, PA22008
San Luis ObispoSan Luis Obispo, CA22008
Chicago-O'HareChicago, IL22008
Newark Liberty InternationalNewark, NJ22008/2015
Charlotte Douglas InternationalCharlotte, NC12008
St. Paul DowntownSt. Paul, MN22008+
Worcester RegionalWorcester, MA22008/2009**
Reading, RegionalReading, PA12009**
Kansas City DowntownKansas City, MO22009+/2010
Smith ReynoldsWinston-Salem, NC12010
New Castle CountyWilmington, DE12010
Key West InternationalKey West, FL22010/2015
Arcata-EurekaArcata, CA12010
Telluride RegionalTelluride, CO22010
Palm BeachPalm Beach, FL12011
RepublicFarmingdale, NY22011/2013
Martin CountyStuart, FL22011
LafayetteLafayette, LA32011/2013/2016
Cleveland HopkinsCleveland, OH22011
GrotonGroton-New London, CT22011
Augusta StateAugusta, ME22011
Elmira-CorningElmira, NY12012
Trenton-MercerTrenton, NJ42012/2013
New BernNew Bern, NC12012
MemphisMemphis, TN12013
Burke LakefrontCleveland, OH12013
San FranciscoSan Francisco, CA42014
T.F. GreenProvidence, RI32014/2015/2017
AddisonAddison, TX12014
Chicago ExecutiveWheeling, IL22014/2015
Reagan NationalWashington, DC32014/2015
MontereyMonterey, CA22015
Oakland InternationalOakland, CA12015
NomeNome, AK12015
Lehigh ValleyAllentown, PA22015
John TuneNashville, TN12015
KodiakKodiak, AK22015
RutlandRutland, VT12015
SikorskyBridgeport, CT12015
McAllen InternationalMcAllen, TX12015
SandifordLouisville, KY12015
VeniceVenice, FL12016
Boca RatonBoca Raton, FL22017
DeKalb/PeachtreeAtlanta, GA12018
CuyahogaCleveland, OH22018
LafayetteLafayette, LA12018
Little RockLittle Rock, AR12018
Oxford-WaterburyOxford, CT12018
Hilton HeadHilton Head, SC22019
( ) Bed replaced
* Widened in 2008
** General aviation airport
*** retrofitted bed

EMAS Installations Using greenEMAS
greenEMAS is installed at four runway ends at one airport in the United States.

EMAS Installations Using Runway Safe EMAS
AirportLocation# of SystemsInstallation Date(s)
Chicago MidwayChicago, IL4fall 2014/2015/2016