Emergency Aircraft Arresting System Unveiled at Groton New London Airport

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Groton New London Airport gains safety upgradeFederal Aviation Administration Regional Administrator Amy Lind Corbett and Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker visited in December and unveiled the newly installed emergency arresting system at Groton-New London Airport designed to stop planes that overshoot the runway. It is the first such system installed in Connecticut.

“With this system, we have taken another major step toward making this airport safer for everyone,” said DOT Commissioner Redeker. “This system has a 100 percent success record everywhere it has been installed and it is great news that we have been able to get it here in Groton.”

“With the installation of this system at Groton-New London, pilots and passengers will begin reaping the safety benefits of this technology immediately,” said Corbett, regional administrator for FAA’s New England Region.

The “Engineered Materials Arresting System,” or EMAS, is a bed of customized cellular cement material, according to Zodiac Aerospace’s Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation, the manufacturer. It is designed to crush under the weight of an aircraft, thus providing safe, predictable, controlled stop.

Mary Ellen Jones, chair of the new Connecticut Airport Authority, said the system is “consistent with the objectives of the Authority in keeping Connecticut at the forefront of technology and safety.”

The $9 million Groton-New London system, at both ends of the 5,000-foot main runway, is one of some 67 EMAS systems that have been installed at airports around the world. Other airports in the region, including JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and Boston Logan, have EMAS systems.

“The controlled deceleration achieved with EMAS reduces the risk of personal injury and damage to the aircraft. Yet, the bed remains accessible by rescue and recovery vehicles, so runway downtime is minimized,” according to a statement by Engineered Arresting Systems Corporation. “Winter weather conditions do not affect the system’s performance and snow can be easily removed.”

Funding for the EMAS project came almost entirely through the Federal Aviation Administration. The state contributed $790,000 for the project.

The EMAS system successfully stopped a plane on November 3, 2011, at Key West International Airport in Florida, with minimal damage. Four days earlier, another plane overshot the other end of the same runway, which did not have an EMAS system; although it stopped safely at the end of the airfield, the second plane was heavily damaged.

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