The Technology Works: John F. Kennedy International Airport’s
Aircraft Arresting System Has Stopped Two Planes in the Past Five Years
For a photo of the arrestor bed successfully stopping a cargo plane at JFK, click here.
Beds made of specially designed aerated cement blocks that crumble under the weight of an aircraft in order to stop a plane safely and quickly in the event of an emergency will be installed in safety areas at one end of each of LaGuardia Airport’s two runways, under an action taken by the Board of Commissioners today.
The Engineered Materials Arresting System, or EMAS – a technology pioneered by the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration – has proven effective at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where the world’s first EMAS was installed in 1996. In 1999, the EMAS safely stopped a commuter plane with 27 passengers aboard. In 2003, a cargo jet carrying three crew members also was successfully stopped.
“One of our key objectives as a public transportation agency is to provide the safest facilities possible,” Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said. “The arrestor bed technology we helped create saves lives, and its presence at LaGuardia Airport will enhance the airport’s already-stellar safety performance record.”
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “We must continually seek and develop innovations and improvements to maintain our airports in world-class condition. By installing EMAS at LaGuardia, we take a major step in making certain the traveling public remains safe and secure.”
Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, “This extra measure of safety is on the cutting edge of airport safety technology. We’re proud to have led the way in its research and development, and we will continue to be leaders on safety and security issues in the aviation industry.”
In 1998, the Board approved funding to install the arrestor beds in the safety areas at one end of each of LaGuardia’s two runways. After the installation of the first arrestor bed, jet blast from aircraft engines caused some damage to the materials. This was because at LaGuardia, unlike at JFK, there is a relatively short distance from the ends of the runways to the safety areas, which makes arrestor beds susceptible to jet blast.
The contractor removed the materials and a test program was established to address this issue. A variety of tests were performed on the re-engineered system, including wind tunnel tests at the FAA’s Technical Center in Atlantic City and field tests at LaGuardia, which demonstrated the effectiveness of the new EMAS design.
Installation of the Runway 22 EMAS at LaGuardia is planned for this fall. Installation of Runway 13’s EMAS will begin in the spring and be completed by summer.
The project’s total cost is estimated at $20.8 million. Part of the cost will be paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the contractor will pay for the replacement of the original EMAS installation at LaGuardia.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit rail system; the Port Authority-Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.