FAA Promotes “Arrestor Beds” to Stop Runway Overruns


Commercial airports should have runway overrun areas 500 feet wide that extend 1,000 feet off the runway end, but in cases where that isn’t practical, the agency is now promoting the use of a new technology called EMAS. An Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) uses materials 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, the FAA says. When an aircraft rolls into an EMAS arrestor bed, the tires of the aircraft sink into the material and the aircraft is decelerated by having to roll through it. 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.

To date, there have been four incidents where EMAS has kept aircraft from overrunning the runway and in several cases the technology has prevented injury to passengers and damage to the aircraft, the FAA said.