Engineered materials arrestor system

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EMAS bed after being run over by a landing gear

An engineered materials arrestor system, engineered materials arresting system (EMAS), or arrester bed[1] is a bed of engineered materials built at the end of a runway. Engineered materials are defined in FAA Advisory Circular No 150/5220-22A as "high energy absorbing materials of selected strength, which will reliably and predictably crush under the weight of an aircraft". While the current technology involves lightweight, crushable concrete blocks, there is no regulatory requirement that this material be used for EMAS. The purpose of an EMAS is to stop an aircraft overrun with no human injury and minimal aircraft damage. The aircraft is slowed by the loss of energy required to crush the EMAS material. An EMAS is similar in concept to the runaway truck ramp made of gravel or sand. It is intended to stop aircraft that have overshot a runway when there is an insufficient free space for a standard runway safety area (RSA). Multiple patents have been issued on the construction and design on the materials and process.

US installations[edit]

EMAS under construction. The slope part on the left is a blast shield.[2]
Higher EMAS bed with side steps to allow aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) access and passenger egress[2]

The FAA's design criteria for new airports designate Runway Safety Areas (RSA), to increase the margin of safety if an overrun occurs, and to provide additional access room for response vehicles. A US federal law requires that the length of RSA in airports is to be 1,000 feet (300 m) by the end of 2015 in a response to a runway overrun into a highway at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.[1] At airports built before these standards were put into effect, the FAA has begun funding the installation of EMAS at the ends of the main runways. As of July 2014, 47 US airports had been so equipped; the plan is to have 62 airports so equipped by the end of 2015.[3]

Approved manufacturers[edit]

As of August 2014 the only FAA-approved producer of EMAS is Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation, a division of Zodiac Aerospace (ESCO-ZA). ESCO-ZA designs the EMAS beds and manufactures the concrete blocks.


After the 8 December 2005 overshoot of Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 at Chicago Midway International Airport, which is located in a heavily congested area, an EMAS was installed on Rwy 13C/31C.[4]

On 13 October 2006, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez's private jet was brought to a halt safely by the EMAS installation at Burbank Airport. The system was installed after the 2000 Southwest Airlines Flight 1455 runway overshoot that injured 43 passengers and the captain.[5]

On 19 January 2010, PSA Airlines Canadair CRJ-200 N246PS operating as US Airways flight 2495 from Charleston, West Virginia (CRW) to Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT) with 30 passengers and 3 crew, overran the runway following a rejected take-off. The aircraft was stopped by the EMAS at the end of the runway, sustaining only minor damage to its landing gear doors.

On 1 October 2010, a private Gulfstream IV jet overshot the runway at Teterboro Airport and was safely stopped by the EMAS installation. No injuries were reported.[6]

As of 8 October 2010, the EMAS installed at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1999 had successfully stopped three aircraft, including a Boeing 747.[7]

On 2 November 2011, a Cessna Citation landed at Key West. The flight, which originated in Fort Lauderdale with 3 passengers and 2 crew, had a brake failure upon landing in Key West and was successfully stopped by the airport's newly installed EMAS. Only minor injuries were reported.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b Boburg, Shawn (17 September 2013). "Teterboro Airport gets $1M for runway project". Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Jacobs, Kenneth (1 March 2006). "Runway Safety Areas - An Airport Operator’s Perspective". Federal Aviation Administration. pp. 8,9,13. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Runway Risk, Flying, September 2014 issue, p. 57
  4. ^ "KMDW Airport Diagram" (PDF). Retrieved 7 January 2008. 
  5. ^ Oldham, Jennifer (14 October 2006). "Yankee Player's Jet Overruns Runway in Burbank". Los Angeles Times. "The airport installed the $4-million safety system after a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 skidded off the same runway and onto a street in 2000, injuring 43 passengers and the captain on the same runway." 
  6. ^ "Private jet overshoots runway at Teterboro Airport". Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "EMAS Arrestments". FAA Fact Sheet on EMAS. 8 October 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "No one is hurt after small plane crash lands at Key West Airport". 4 November 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Aviation Accident Brief ERA12IA060". NTSB. 

External links[edit]