Engineered Material Arresting Systems
When a landing aircraft over runs the end of a runway there can be disastrous
results; the aircraft may run into a body of water, busy highway, or nearby
On February 28,
1984, a Scandinavian Airline System DC-10-30 aircraft overran after landing on
runway 4R at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport and plunged into
In consideration of the potential for catastrophic overrun accidents, the NTSB
issued the following Safety Recommendation A-84-37 which stated, “Initiate
research and development activities to establish the feasibility of soft ground
aircraft arresting systems and promulgate a design standard, if the systems are
found to be practical.”
In response to the recommendation, the FAA in cooperation with Engineered
Systems, Co. (ESCO) of Logan Township, NJ undertook an aggressive research
effort to develop a solution. Research began with the development of a
mathematical model to predict the factors associated with an overrunning
aircraft. In 1996, full scale testing was used to successfully validate the
The outcome was a viable solution called engineered material arresting system or
EMAS. EMAS, as its name implies is an engineered material that deforms readily
and reliably under the weight of an overrunning aircraft and the resulting drag
forces decelerate the aircraft to a safe stop.
The harsh environment at the end of runways makes EMAS susceptible to
destructive forces of jet blast, seasonal climate variations, and wildlife.
Consequently, the FAA continues to work with EMAS manufacturers to ensure that
the systems maintain adequate durability.
EMAS is now considered a proven technology having been installed at more than 50
locations throughout the United States. EMAS has been effective in safely
decelerating seven overrunning aircraft since 1999. In all cases, serious damage
to the aircraft was averted and there were no injuries to passengers on board.
The FAA is currently working with other companies to study potential additional
alternative materials and systems to enhance runway safety throughout the United
The Office of Airport Safety and Standards (AAS-1) issued Advisory Circular
150/5220-22a Engineered Materials Arresting Systems (EMAS) for Aircraft Overruns
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