The National Academies

ACRP 04-28 [Active]

Developing Alternative Aircraft Arresting Systems

  Project Data
Funds: $575,000
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin
Research Agency: Dayton University
Principal Investigator: Robert Poorman
Effective Date: 6/11/2021
Completion Date: 6/10/2023

An aircraft arresting system, such as engineered material arresting system (EMAS) is one mitigation option used at airports where a full runway safety area (RSA) cannot be achieved. An EMAS is positioned within the RSA after the runway extremity and is made of an energy absorbing material that brings an aircraft rapidly and safely to a stop.
ACRP Report 29: Developing Improved Civil Aircraft Arresting Systems (2009) evaluated alternative EMAS materials and potential active arrestor designs for civil aircraft applications. Since the report’s publication, significant development in materials and technologies have occurred, indicating a need to update the research. Additionally, exploring options for systems to arrest aircraft at general aviation (GA) airports would be beneficial.
The objectives of this research are to:
a. Identify and develop potential viable systems, configurations, and technologies for arresting aircraft at all types and sizes of airports that are not covered by existing patents. Solutions could consider but should not be limited to technical alternatives presented under ACRP Report 29 that could be further developed. In addition, the research should include an assessment of economically feasible solutions applicable to GA airports.
b. Develop a model to evaluate and assess the characteristics of the proposed materials or systems to demonstrate its viability as an acceptable equivalent runway safety area. It should include physical material and or system testing.  
The report should include, but not limited to, the following considerations: 
  • Investigation of the occurrences and characteristics on overruns at GA airports as it impacts arrestor design;
  • Weight limits, tire pressure, and deceleration profiles of current and anticipated future aircraft;
  • Environmental impacts of individual systems and sustainability of materials;
  • Non-proprietary solutions;
  • Flexibility to include locally available materials;
  • Opportunities to engage airport operators in the future development of alternatives;
  • Local conditions (i.e., climate, marine and extreme weather events exposure, geographic location);
  • Operational safety (i.e., drivability, compatibility with existing navigational aids, glare and resistance to wildlife);
  • Requirements and techniques for system installation and maintenance; and
  • Review of other alternate modes of transportation arresting systems (i.e., a runaway truck ramp, escape lane or truck arrestor bed).

The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.

The research plan should include appropriate deliverables, for ACRP approval, that include at minimum:
1. A limited inventory of the existing types of arresting systems, citing system name and general specifications only.
2. An overview of the runway thresholds where a full RSA is not achieved. This overview should feature statistics per FAA Runway Design Code (RDC). It should mention as well the number of runway thresholds already equipped with an arresting system.
3. A description of the proposed approach for identifying and developing innovative viable systems, configurations, and technologies.
4. Appropriate material/system modeling and physical testing including an outline of proposed methodology.
5. Life cycle cost analysis for the most promising option(s).
6. An interim report that describes work done in early tasks, including a description of their methodology used in their planned deliverable and preliminary findings of the modeling effort, and an updated work plan for remaining tasks. All of this should demonstrate to the panel the thought process behind how the final deliverables will address the components outlined in the objective.
The research plan should include other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.
The final deliverables will include:
1. A report to inform airport practitioners of alternatives to the current civil aircraft arresting systems, and to provide most promising alternative(s), and the steps required to obtain approval of such systems; and
2. A Summary of Key Findings; (b) a Further Recommended Research Memo; and (c) a technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”. The Implementation memo should explain how to bring the research finding at the next level, and include opportunities to engage airport operators in the future development of alternatives.

Status: A research contractor has been selected and executed a contract.

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