Engineered Materials Arresting Systems (EMAS)
Saving Lives & Enhancing Safety With Collaboration
Avoiding any political commentary on a Vice Presidential candidate’s plane in a runway (not a spell check change from “runaway”) incident, the Pence plane being mired in the EMAS arresting material highlights a number of important safety advances.
First and most obviously, the benefits of Engineered Materials Arresting Systems (EMAS), having been installed at LaGuardia and 103 runways at 61 airports (see below table) enhances the safety of Airports that do not have the adequate Runway Safety Areas (RSAs), were clearly demonstrated by this high profile case. The ingenious use of crushed concrete brought the Eastern Airlines B-737 charter place to a stop. It did so in a way that saved lives in the event that the aircraft continued into the water or collided with an object. By slowing its slide, EMAS limits the potential injuries to the passengers occasioned by an abrupt stop. The statistics of EMAS’s saves are included in the below table.
The second reminder engendered by this heavily reported campaign stop has received less press commentary. That is the fact that EMAS is the product of a public/private partnership. The FAA issued a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRDA) to seek ideas to address the safety issues related to the many RSAs. A team composed of 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. The FAA explains, “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.”
EMAS is a remarkable addition to the safety margins at the Nation’s airports. Its invention is attributable to the creativity which can be gained from collaboration between the federal government, an airport authority, a university and a private corporation. Fortunately for the nation, a tragedy was averted by the fruit of the FAA CRDA and we were saved from a bizarre conspiracy inception.
To date, there have been 10 incidents where ESCO’s EMAS has safely stopped 10 overrunning aircraft saving the lives of 245 crew and passengers and preventing substantial damage to the airport and the aircraft.
EMAS Installations with ESCO EMAS
Currently, ESCO’s EMAS is installed at 103 runway ends at 61 airports in the United States, with plans to install 4 EMAS systems at 4 additional U.S. airports.