Concrete Alternatives

Tuesday, August 28, 2007
By George Hatcher

Alternative to Disaster
Short runways are an unavoidable problem when there is a shortage of land and it is not possible to have the standard 1,000 feet overrun. Judging by the Tam air disaster, not all country’s airports have the technology to prevent major aircraft mishaps, technology such as EMAS. EMAS–Engineered Material Arresting Systems–was developed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and ESCO (Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation). EMAS acts as a buffer to slow down aircraft that overrun the length of the runway. All it takes is a bed of crushable concrete–cellular cement material that crushes under the weight of an aircraft, resulting in guaranteed deceleration of the aircraft.
Features of Engineered Material Arresting Systems
Permits reduction of standard RSA
Shortens standard RSA to 600 feet
Meets FAA AC 150/5220-22
Features material customized to each runway’s aircraft fleet
After arrestment, ARFF vehicles can easily maneuver on even damaged EMAS surface

EMAS Fact Sheet

For Immediate Release

June 15, 2007
Contact: Marcia Adams

Phone: (202) 267-3488

Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS)


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that commercial airports, regulated under Part 139 safety rules, have a standard Runway Safety Area (RSA) where possible. At most commercial airports the RSA is 500 feet wide and extends 1000 feet beyond each end of the runway. The FAA has this requirement in the event that an aircraft overruns, undershoots, or veers off the side of the runway. The most dangerous of these incidents are overruns, but since many airports were built before the 1000-foot RSA length was adopted some 20 years ago, the area beyond the end of the runway is where many airports cannot achieve the full standard RSA. This is due to obstacles such as bodies of water, highways, railroads, and populated areas or severe drop-off of terrain.

The FAA has a high-priority program to enhance safety by upgrading the RSAs at commercial airports and provide federal funding to support those upgrades. However, it still may not be practical for some airports to achieve the standard RSA. The FAA, knowing that it would be difficult to achieve a standard RSA at every airport, began conducting research in the 1990s to determine how to ensure maximum 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) of Logan Township, NJ, a new technology emerged to provide an added measure of safety. An Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) uses materials of closely controlled strength and density placed at the end of a runway to stop or greatly slow an aircraft that overruns the runway. The best material found to date is a lightweight, crushable concrete. When an aircraft rolls into an EMAS arrestor bed, the tires of the aircraft sink into the lightweight concrete and the aircraft is decelerated by having to roll through the material.

Benefits of the EMAS Technology

The EMAS technology provides safety benefits in cases where land is not available, where it would be very expensive for the airport sponsor to buy the land off the end of the runway, or where it is otherwise not possible to have the standard 1,000-foot overrun. This technology is now in place at 18 airports with installation under contract at six additional airports. A standard EMAS installation extends 600 feet from the end of the runway. An EMAS arrestor bed can still be installed to help slow or stop an aircraft that overruns the runway, even if less than 600 feet of land is available.

Current FAA Initiatives

The Office of Airports prepared an RSA improvement plan for the runways at approximately 575 commercial airports in 2005. This plan allows the agency to track the progress and to direct federal funds for making all practicable improvements, including the use of EMAS technology.

Presently, the EMAS system developed by ESCO using crushable concrete is the only system that meets the FAA standard. However, FAA is conducting research through the Airport Cooperative Research Program (project number 07-03) that will examine alternatives to the existing approved system. The results of this effort are expected in 2009. More information on the project can be found at the Transportation Research Board website at

EMAS Arrestments

To date, there have been four incidents where the technology has worked successfully to keep aircraft from overrunning the runway and in several cases has prevented injury to passengers and damage to the aircraft.

  • May 1999: A Saab 340 commuter aircraft overran the runway at JFK
  • May 2003: Gemini Cargo MD-11 was safely decelerated at JFK
  • January 2005: A Boeing 747 overran the runway at JFK
  • July 2006: Mystere Falcon 900 airplane ran off the runway at the Greenville Downtown Airport in South Carolina

EMAS Installations

Currently, EMAS is installed at 24 runway ends at 19 airports in the United States. With plans to install 12 additional EMAS systems at seven more U.S. airports.

Airport Location # of Systems Installation Date
JFK International Jamaica, NY 1 1996
Minneapolis St. Paul Minneapolis, MN 1 1999
Little Rock Little Rock, AR 2 2000/2003
Rochester International Rochester, NY 1 2001
Burbank Burbank, CA 1 2002
Baton Rouge Metropolitan Baton Rouge, LA 1 2002
Greater Binghamton Binghamton, NY 2 2002
Greenville Downtown Greensville, SC 1 2003
Barnstable Municipal Hyannis, MA 1 2003
Roanoke Regional Roanoke, VA 1 2004
Fort Lauderdale International Fort Lauderdale, FL 2 2004
Dutchess County Poughkeepsie, NY 1 2004
LaGuardia Flushing, NY 2 2005
Boston Logan Boston, MA 2 2005/2006
Laredo International Laredo, TX 1 2006
San Diego International San Diego, CA 1 2006
Teterboro Teterboro , NJ 1 2006
Chicago Midway Chicago, IL 1 2006
Merle K (Mudhole) Smith Cordova, AK 1 2007

Additional Projects Currently Under Contract

Location # of Systems Expected Installation Date
Charleston, WV 1 June 2007
Chicago Midway 3 Spring/Summer 2007
Wilkes-Barre Scranton, PA 1 Fall 2007
JFK International 1 Fall 2007
Chicago O’Hare 2 Spring 2008
Telluride, CO 2 TBD
Manchester, NH 1 Spring 2008
Newark Liberty, NJ 1 Spring 2008
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Leave a Reply

RSS Plane Crash News

  • NTSB: Plane That Crashed In Maryland Was Destroyed On Impact
    A preliminary report on a fatal plane crash last month off coastal Maryland has determined the Cessna 172S was destroyed on impact after hitting the water.
  • First janaza of 23 plane crash victims held in Kathmandu
    Photo: UNBThe first namaj-e-janaza of 23 US-Bangla plane crash victims was held at Bangladesh mission in Kathmandu on Monday morning, reports UNB. The identified bodies of 23 victims were taken to embassy around 8:30am where the janaza was held at 9:00am, said US-Bangla airline's GM ...
  • NTSB: Plane That Crashed in Maryland Was Destroyed on Impact
    A preliminary report on a fatal plane crash last month off coastal Maryland has determined the Cessna 172S was destroyed on impact after hitting the water. The report issued Thursday by the Nationa...
  • 1st janaza of 23 plane crash victims held in Nepal
    Dhaka, Mar 19 (UNB) – The first namaj-e-janaza of 23 US-Bangla plane crash victims was held at Bangladesh mission in Kathmandu on Monday morning. The identified bodies of 23 victims were taken to embassy around 8:30am where the janaza was held at 9am, said US-Bangla Airline's GM ...
  • Plaridel in day of mourning for 5 residents killed in plane crash
    Plaridel town in Bulacan is in a day of mourning on Monday following the deadly plane crash on Saturday that killed five of its residents. An Unang Balita report by Bam Alegre said the Philippine flag at the Plaridel municipal hall compound was at half-mast. A Mass for the five dead residents of the town ...
  • CAAP reviewing condition of Bulacan airport after plane crash
    PLARIDEL — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Sunday said it was reviewing the condition of the Plaridel airport, as it began its investigation of the March 17 crash of a light plane that slammed into a house and killed 10 people. The six-seater, twin engine Piper PA-23 Apache (not ...
  • Minor injury for pilot after small plane crash along the Yuba River
    YUBA COUNTY, Calif - Authorities on Sunday morning rescued a pilot at the Yuba River after his small plane crashed and knocked down power lines, but luckily the pilot received only minor injuries and left a few houses without power. Posted: Mar. 18, 2018 3:22 PM. Updated: Mar. 18, 2018 3:22 PM.
  • Deadly helicopter crash raises questions over safety and regulation for popular tours
    3 dead in Texas plane crash collision. New York (CNN) You're soaring 2,000 feet above Manhattan's sparkling East River, the distant skyline glistening at dusk as your feet dangle from the side of a whirring doors-off helicopter. "It feels like when you are on top of the world," Judith Verweijen, of the ...
  • Plane that crashed off Ocean City was destroyed on impact, NTSB report says
    A preliminary report on a fatal plane crash off Ocean City last month has determined that the Cessna 172S was destroyed on impact after hitting the water. The report issued Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board noted other details leading up to the crash, but investigators are still piecing ...
  • Pilot Stable After Plane Crash in Yuba County
    YUBA COUNTY — A plane landed in the Yuba River Sunday morning around 8:30 a.m., according to Cal Fire. The pilot, 66-year-old Timothy Bennette, was transported to UC Davis with minor injuries. Yuba County Sheriff's Office confirms that Bennette has a broken ankle as well as scrapes and burns ...


  • Air
  • AirCrashConsultants
  • Airfleets
  • AOPA
  • Bird Strike Database
  • Bird Strike Database Query
  • EASA
  • FAA
  • Find A Pilot
  • Frixo
  • IATA
  • International Civil Aviation Organization
  • Montreal Convention MC99 English
  • Nasa
  • NOAA
  • NTSB
  • RITA
  • U.S. Office of Special Counsel
March 2018
« Feb    
  • #aviationsafety Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office helicopter made an emergency landing at gold course (Hole 16).…
    about 13 hours ago
  • #Aviationsafety More detail on the non-fatal Yeti airlines incident landing at Gautam Buddha Airport, Bhairahawa,…
    about 13 hours ago
  • #Aviationsafety Van's RV-6A landing atSomersby Airstrip, Central Coast, NSW Australia suffered a runway overrun. I…
    about 13 hours ago
  • #Aviationsafety Experimental Besarick-built Skybolt force landed in on final approach toPunta Gorda Airport, came t…
    about 13 hours ago
  • Small plane crashes into Yuba River at Browns Valley via @YubaNet
    about 14 hours ago