Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS)

Monday, September 11, 2023


The runway safety area (RSA) enhances the safety of aircraft that undershoot, overrun, or veer off the runway. The RSA provides a clear, graded area which provides additional space for pilots to bring their aircraft to a safe stop. Though RSAs vary in size by runway, they can be as large as 500 feet wide and often extend 1,000 feet beyond each end of the runway. Many airports were built before the current RSA dimensional standards were adopted in the 1980s. . 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 help 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 for an RSA of standard dimensions. A standard EMAS installation can stop an aircraft overrunning the runway at 70 knots (approximately 80 miles per hour). An EMAS 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 standards 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 a silica foam system called greenEMAS®.

The FAA reviews and approves 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.

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. The foamed silica is poured into lanes bounded by the mesh and covered with a poured cement layer and treated with a topcoat 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 service 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 service airport RSA’s, the Office of Airports has started a similar strategy into the potential of improving General Aviation RSA’s across the Country.

EMAS Arrestments

To date, there have been 21 incidents where EMAS systems have safely stopped 21 overrunning aircraft, carrying 430 crew and passengers, aboard those flights.

EMAS Arrestments
Date Crew and Passengers Incident
May 1999 30 A Saab 340 commuter aircraft overran the runway at John F Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York
May 2003 3 A Gemini Cargo MD-11 overran the runway at JFK Airport in New York
January 2005 3 A Boeing 747 overran the runway at JFK Airport in New York
July 2006 5 A Mystere Falcon 900 overran the runway at Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) in South Carolina
July 2008 145 An Airbus A320 overran the runway at Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD) in Chicago, IL
January 2010 34 A Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jet overran the runway at Yeager Airport (ORW) in Charleston, WVA
October 2010 10 A G-4 Gulfstream overran the runway at Teterboro Airport (TEB) in Teterboro, NJ
November 2011 5 A Cessna Citation II overran the runway at Key West International Airport (DYW) in Key West, FL
October 2013 8 A Cessna 680 Citation overran the runway at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) in West Palm Beach, FL
January 2016 2 A Falcon 20 overran the runway at Chicago Executive Airport (PWK) in Wheeling, IL
October 2016 37 A Boeing 737 overran the runway at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Flushing, NY
April 2017 2 A Cessna 750 Citation overran the runway at Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank, CA
February 2018 4 A Beech Jet 400A overran the runway at Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL) in Cleveland, OH
December 2018 117 A Boeing 737 overran the runway at Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank, CA
February 2019 1 An Embraer Phenom 100 overran the runway in Kansas City Airport (MCI), MO
February 2021 2 A Dassault F900 overran the runway at Chicago Executive-Wheeling (PWK), IL
July 2021 9 A Cessna Citation Excel overran the runway at Reading Regional Airport (RDO), PA
September 2021 2 An Aero Vodochody F-13 overran the runway at Witham Field Airport (SUA) at Stuart, FL
March 2022 2 A Cessna 650 overran the runway at Key West International Airport (EYW) in Key West, FL
April 2023 7 A Cessna 402C overran the runway at Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL), in Fort Lauderdale, FL
October 2023 2 A Beechcraft BE30 overran the runway at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK) in Atlanta, GA

EMAS Installations with EMASMAX®

EMASMAX® is installed at 121 runway ends at 71 airports in the United States.

EMAS Installations
Airport Location # of Systems Installation Date(s)
+ Reliever airport
JFK International (JFK) Jamaica, NY 2 1996(1999)/2007 (2014)
Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) Minneapolis, MN 1 1999(2008)
Little Rock (LIT) Little Rock, AR 2 2000/2003 (2018)
Rochester International (RST) Rochester, NY 1 2001
Burbank (BUR) Burbank, CA 1 2002* (2017)
Baton Rouge Metropolitan (BTR) Baton Rouge, LA 1 2002
Greater Binghamton (BGM) Binghamton, NY 2 2002 (2012)/2009***
Greenville Downtown (GMU) Greenville, SC 1 2003**/2010***
Barnstable Municipal (HYA) Hyannis, MA 1 2003
Roanoke Regional (ROA) Roanoke, VA 1 2004
Fort Lauderdale International (FLL) Fort Lauderdale, FL 4 2004 (2019), 2014
LaGuardia (LGA) Flushing, NY 4 2005 (2014)/2015
Boston Logan (BOS) Boston, MA 2 2005/2006 (2012)/(2014)
Laredo International (LRD) Laredo, TX 1 2006/2012***
San Diego International (SAN) San Diego, CA 1 2006
Teterboro (TEB)  Teterboro, NJ 3 2006+/2011/2013
Chicago Midway (MDW) Chicago, IL 0 Replaced
Merle K (Mudhole) Smith (CDV) Cordova, AK 1 2007
Charleston Yeager (CRW) Charleston, WV 1 2007 (2019)
Manchester (MHT) Manchester, NH 1 2007
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Intl.(AVP) Wilkes-Barre, PA 2 2008
San Luis Obispo (SBP) San Luis Obispo, CA 2 2008
Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) Chicago, IL 2 2008
Newark Liberty International (EWR) Newark, NJ 2 2008/2015
Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) Charlotte, NC 1 2008
St. Paul Downtown (STP) St. Paul, MN 2 2008+
Worcester Regional (ORH) Worcester, MA 2 2008/2009**
Reading, Regional (RDG) Reading, PA 1 2009**
Kansas City Downtown (MKC) Kansas City, MO 2 2009+/2010
Smith Reynolds (INT) Winston-Salem, NC 1 2010
New Castle County (ILG) Wilmington, DE 1 2010
Key West International (EYW) Key West, FL 2 2010/2015
Arcata-Eureka (ACV) Arcata, CA 1 2010
Telluride Regional (TEX) Telluride, CO 2 2010
Palm Beach (PBI) Palm Beach, FL 1 2011
Republic (FRG) Farmingdale, NY 2 2011/2013
Martin County (SUT) Stuart, FL 2 2011
Lafayette (LFT) Lafayette, LA 3 2011/2013/2016
Cleveland Hopkins (CRE) Cleveland, OH 2 2011
Groton-New London (GON) Groton, CT 2 2011
Augusta State (AUG) Augusta, ME 2 2011
Elmira-Corning (ELM) Elmira, NY 1 2012
Trenton-Mercer (TTN) Trenton, NJ 4 2012/2013
New Bern (EWN) New Bern, NC 1 2012
Memphis (MEM) Memphis, TN 1 2013
Burke Lakefront (BLK) Cleveland, OH 1 2013
San Francisco (SFO) San Francisco, CA 4 2014
T.F. Green (PVD) Providence, RI 3 2014/2015/2017
Addison (ADS) Addison, TX 1 2014
Chicago Executive (PWK) Wheeling, IL 2 2014/2015
Reagan National (DCA) Washington, DC 3 2014/2015
Monterey (MRY) Monterey, CA 2 2015
Oakland International (OAK) Oakland, CA 1 2015
Nome (OME) Nome, AK 1 2015
Lehigh Valley (ABE) Allentown, PA 2 2015
John Tune (JWN) Nashville, TN 1 2015
Kodiak (ADQ) Kodiak, AK 2 2015
Rutland (RUT) Rutland, VT 1 2015
Sikorsky (BDR) Bridgeport, CT 1 2015
McAllen International (MFE) McAllen, TX 1 2015
Sandiford (SDF) Louisville, KY 1 2015
Venice (VNC) Venice, FL 1 2016
Boca Raton (BCT) Boca Raton, FL 2 2017
DeKalb/Peachtree (PDK) Atlanta, GA 1 2018
Cuyahoga (CFG) Cleveland, OH 2 2018
Lafayette (LFT) Lafayette, LA 1 2018
Little Rock (LIT) Little Rock, AR 1 2018
Waterbury-Oxford (OXC) Oxford, CT 1 2018
Hilton Head (HXH) Hilton Head, SC 2 2018
Cartersville (VPC) Cartersville, GA 2 2021/2023
Blue Grass (LEX) Lexington, KY 2 2022/2023
( ) 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
Airport Location # of Systems Installation Date(s)
Chicago Midway (MDW) Chicago, IL 4 fall 2014/2015/2016