A new Emergency Aircraft Arresting System, the Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) was recently unveiled at the Groton New London Airport in Connecticut. The system is the first to be installed in any of the Connecticut airports. Mary Ellen Jones, Chairwoman of the newly established Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA), said that this was “consistent with the objectives of the Authority in keeping Connecticut at the forefront of technology and safety.”
The EMAS installed at both ends of the runways of Groton New London Airport is one of only 67 installed systems in the world. The system has a 100% success record and is a huge step in making the airport safer for passengers.
According to Zodiac Aerospace Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation, manufacturer of the EMAS, the system is made up of cellular cement material that is designed to crush under the weight of an aircraft should it overshoot a runway. The system will be able to bring the aircraft to a safe controlled stop.
With the EMAS, an aircraft is decelerated controllably thereby minimizing or preventing injury to passengers and damage to the aircraft. In an emergency, the system will not prevent emergency rescue vehicles from gaining access to the aircraft. Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation stated that “winter weather conditions do not affect the system’s performance and snow can easily be removed.”
The EMAS costs $9 million to be installed at the Groton-New London airport and most of the funding for the installation of the EMAS came from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). $790,000 was contributed by the state.
For years the FAA has pushed for airports to have a 1,000 foot runway safety area (RSA) at the ends of each runway in case an aircraft overshoots a landing. However, this is not possible for some airports and the EMAS is the best possible alternative.
Should an aircraft overshoot a runway at the Groton-New London airport, the EMAS will prevent the aircraft from plunging straight into the Poquonnock River at the south of the runway, and Bakers Cove at the north. According to Airport Manager Catherine Young “safety is the No. 1 concern.” “The EMAS system will make it easier for emergency vehicles to access an aircraft,” she said.
Currently the FAA has had an EMAS systems installed in 36 airports in the United States. Should an aircraft damage the cellular cement blocks, the blocks will need to be replaced once the aircraft is removed. The runway can still continue to be used under the guidelines of the FAA.
One event that proves that the EMAS system can safely stop an aircraft happened on November 03, 2011. An aircraft overshot one of runways at Key West International Airport and was stopped by the EMAS system with minimal damage. Another aircraft also overshot another end of the runway a few days earlier. That end did not have an EMAS system installed. The aircraft was able to safely stop but incurred heavy damages.
With the new EMAS system installed at the ends of the major runway of Groton-New London Airport, passengers and crew of airplanes are assured that the airport has made their safety a number one priority.