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.
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.
To date, there have been 15 incidents where EMAS systems have safely stopped 15 overrunning aircraft, carrying 406 crew and passengers, aboard those flights.
|Date||Crew and Passengers||Incident|
|May 1999||30||A Saab 340 commuter aircraft overran the runway at 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 in South Carolina|
|July 2008||145||An Airbus A320 overran the runway at Chicago O’Hare Airport in Chicago, IL|
|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|
|October 2013||8||A Cessna 680 Citation overran the runway at Palm Beach International in West Palm Beach, FL|
|January 2016||2||A Falcon 20 overran the runway at Chicago Executive Airport in Chicago, IL|
|October 2016||37||A Boeing 737 overran the runway at LaGuardia Airport in Flushing, NY|
|April 2017||2||A Cessna 750 Citation overran the runway at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA|
|February 2018||4||A Beech Jet 400A overran the runway at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, OH|
|December 2018||117||A Boeing 737 overran the runway at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA|
|February 2019||1||An Embraer Phenom 100 overran the runway in Kansas City, MO|
EMAS Installations with EMASMAX
EMASMAX is installed at 111 runway ends at 66 airports in the United States.
|Airport||Location||# of Systems||Installation Date(s)|
|+ Reliever airport|
|JFK International||Jamaica, NY||2||1996(1999)/2007 (2014)|
|Minneapolis St. Paul||Minneapolis, MN||1||1999(2008)|
|Little Rock||Little Rock, AR||2||2000/2003 (2018)|
|Rochester International||Rochester, NY||1||2001|
|Burbank||Burbank, CA||1||2002* (2017)|
|Baton Rouge Metropolitan||Baton Rouge, LA||1||2002|
|Greater Binghamton||Binghamton, NY||2||2002 (2012)/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||4||2004 (2019), 2014|
|LaGuardia||Flushing, NY||4||2005 (2014)/2015|
|Boston Logan||Boston, MA||2||2005/2006 (2012)/(2014)|
|Laredo International||Laredo, TX||1||2006/2012***|
|San Diego International||San Diego, CA||1||2006|
|Chicago Midway||Chicago, IL||0||Replaced|
|Merle K (Mudhole) Smith||Cordova, AK||1||2007|
|Charleston Yeager||Charleston, WV||1||2007 (2019)|
|Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Intl.||Wilkes-Barre, PA||2||2008|
|San Luis Obispo||San Luis Obispo, CA||2||2008|
|Newark Liberty International||Newark, NJ||2||2008/2015|
|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||2||2010/2015|
|Telluride Regional||Telluride, CO||2||2010|
|Palm Beach||Palm Beach, FL||1||2011|
|Martin County||Stuart, FL||2||2011|
|Cleveland Hopkins||Cleveland, OH||2||2011|
|Groton||Groton-New London, CT||2||2011|
|Augusta State||Augusta, ME||2||2011|
|New Bern||New Bern, NC||1||2012|
|Burke Lakefront||Cleveland, OH||1||2013|
|San Francisco||San Francisco, CA||4||2014|
|T.F. Green||Providence, RI||3||2014/2015/2017|
|Chicago Executive||Wheeling, IL||2||2014/2015|
|Reagan National||Washington, DC||3||2014/2015|
|Oakland International||Oakland, CA||1||2015|
|Lehigh Valley||Allentown, PA||2||2015|
|John Tune||Nashville, TN||1||2015|
|McAllen International||McAllen, TX||1||2015|
|Boca Raton||Boca Raton, FL||2||2017|
|Little Rock||Little Rock, AR||1||2018|
|Hilton Head||Hilton Head, SC||2||2019|
|( ) 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.
|Airport||Location||# of Systems||Installation Date(s)|
|Chicago Midway||Chicago, IL||4||fall 2014/2015/2016|