Currently, there is only one civil aircraft arresting system that meets FAA standards. This Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS), which uses a cellular material, has been installed at a number of airports and has successfully demonstrated its ability to bring aircraft to a stop in several overrun incidents, to date.
However, there are concerns about the currently approved civil aircraft arresting system. At many airports, the land area at the end of a runway is inadequate to accommodate an EMAS system that meets FAA standards. The cost associated with acquiring and installing a cellular material EMAS that requires labor-intensive assembly of multiple blocks is expensive. The durability of the system over time is unknown—there are no tests currently available that can be used to verify that an installed EMAS maintains its original design characteristics.
Over the years, there have been several ideas for alternative civil aircraft arresting systems—however, none of these have been submitted to the FAA with the supporting data necessary for approval. Research is needed to identify and evaluate alternatives that are less costly, more easily maintained, and/or require less space to function than a standard EMAS. Several promising options appear to exist. One concept involves decelerating aircraft using a bed of loose aggregate contained under a cover of artificial turf. Other methods of decelerating aircraft using gravel beds have been the subject of research in the United Kingdom.
In addition to identifying and evaluating alternative methods, research is also needed to document the steps that must be taken to have a system approved for use at a civil airport in the United States. Any barriers that may preclude manufacturers from making alternative solutions commercially available also need to be identified.
Finally, research is also needed to understand how varying the values of the parameters in the current FAA standard affects the design and performance of a civil aircraft arresting system. Performing this type of sensitivity analysis would identify the tradeoffs involved in changing parameters in the current standard.
The objective of this project is to advance the development of alternative civil aircraft arresting systems that safely decelerate an aircraft overrunning a runway. This research will (1) identify and evaluate the most promising alternatives to the existing FAA-approved system; (2) identify the steps that must be taken to have such promising alternatives approved for use at a civil airport in the United States, and identify barriers that may preclude manufacturers from making the alternative solutions commercially available; and (3) conduct a sensitivity analysis of the FAA’s design and performance parameters for civil aircraft arresting systems to show the effects on system design of varying one or more of the parameters (e.g., aircraft leaving the runway at 60 knots rather than 70 knots). The product of this research project will be a report informing stakeholders of (1) alternatives to the current civil aircraft arresting system, (2) steps required to pursue approval of such systems, and (3) tradeoffs involved in changing current aircraft arresting system design and performance parameters.