Investigation of existing engineered material arresting system at three U.S. Airports

Chun Hsing Ho, Pedro Romero

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


This paper discusses the results from the maintenance evaluation of Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) at three U.S. airports: Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU), SC, Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA), VA, and Burbank Airport (BUR), CA. EMAS is a softer ground aircraft arresting system approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to stop overrunning aircraft. In numerous occasions, this system has successfully demonstrated its ability in arresting overrunning aircraft at many U.S. airports. To date, there is only one manufacturer that produces EMAS products in the U.S., so EMAS-related information in design, construction, and maintenance activities are proprietary and remained largely unknown. Some financial concerns and relevant maintenance issues have been raised by airport sponsors and authorities. Airport operators, engineers, and maintenance crews have found EMAS to be challenging to airport operations and maintenance activities. This paper investigates some of the existing issues with in-place Engineered Material Arresting System at three U.S. airports. The objective of the paper is to identify potential issues regarding the installation and maintenance activities of EMAS at airports so that further improvements can be taken. Investigation efforts were implemented through airfield site visit, telephone interviews, and email survey with airport personnel. The contents of the survey consisted of EMAS dimensions, construction costs and periods, maintenance activities and encountered issues, and expectations/recommendations for existing EMAS. Surveyed data and information were analyzed to identify issues of EMAS that airport authorities are currently dealing with. It was found that existing EMAS works well in decelerating overrunning aircraft, but the cost and maintenance issues presented in three airports need to be improved in order for this type of safety system to be more widely used. Two materials have been recommended as promising alternatives thus allowing airport authorities and transportation agencies to pursue financially feasible and workable alternatives. This paper subsequently evaluates and compares the material characteristics, performance, and commercial availabilities between current EMAS and promising alternatives. Comparisons and recommendations are conducted to provide airport authorities and interested agencies with background information of EMAS, material aspects of alternatives, and design criteria of existing EMAS as they are dealing with safety issues and searching available alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication50th Annual Transportation Research Forum 2009
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2009
Event50th Annual Transportation Research Forum 2009 - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Mar 16 2009Mar 18 2009

Publication series

Name50th Annual Transportation Research Forum 2009


Other50th Annual Transportation Research Forum 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPortland, OR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation


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