Tag Archives: EMAS

Chicago Executive Airport’s EMAS System Earns Top Award

Chicago Executive Airport’s Safety System Earns Top Award

Some of you might recall an incident in January of last year when during an early morning arrival, a Falcon 20 cargo jet crew realized after touchdown on Runway 16 that they wouldn’t be able to halt their aircraft before the end of the runway. Landing to the south, Palatine Road runs east to west just off the airport’s property. Luckily for all involved, the airport had recently installed an Engineered Material Arresting System at both ends of the long runway. Landing to the south that morning, the Falcon ran into the EMAS system that safely stopped the airplane in just a few seconds with very little damage to the aircraft and zero injuries to anyone. That EMAS was installed because there was not enough flat surface available at either end of the runway to serve as the normal runway safety area demanded by the FAA.

That EMAS project, let by the airport’s engineering firm Crawford, Murphy & Tilly was recently honored with a Merit Award at ACEC Illinois’ annual Engineering Excellence Award banquet earlier this month.

The Chicago Executive Airport Runway Safety Area Improvement project demonstrated how engineering ingenuity can help an airport continue to thrive despite a tightly-constrained environment. Due to those space restrictions, CMT proposed, designed, and championed for both approval and funding for the EMAS that saved the day in January 2016. EMAS allowed the airport to improve the runway safety area without the need to use any additional real estate and without sacrificing the level of operations at the state’s third busiest airport.

CMT vice president Brian Welker said, “It’s certainly an honor for CMT, but I’m especially grateful that Chicago Executive Airport is being recognized for all the work they’ve done. They’ve been committed to improving their facility for many years now. PWK is an invaluable asset, both to the people and businesses who use the airport, and to the overall economy of the region.”

Nice job folks.

Mr. Abbott Goes to Tokyo

Mr. Abbott Goes to Tokyo

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Jamie Abbott speaks to EMAS seminar audience in Tokyo last month

Late in September, Chicago Executive Airport Executive Director, Jamie Abbott, was invited to speak about EMAS, the engineered material arresting system installed on both ends of the airport longest runway 16/34. EMAS is designed to snag an airplane that normally might have run off the end of the runway, possibly spilling on to nearby highways. The airport’s EMAS was just installed last fall.

The seminar was organized to share information between an airport operator like PWK and a potential Zodiac Aerospace customer. Zodiac, the original designer of the EMAS, covered all travel expenses for Mr. Abbott’s trip. While this kind of invite normally wouldn’t raise anyone’s interest, this one did, because Zodiac’s customer was in Tokyo. In fact, the customer team was actually comprised of the Japan Civil Aeronautics Bureau, the Regional Civil Aeronautics Bureau, Narita International Airport and Japan Ministry of Defense. In all, about 50 people were in attendance. The team from Japan was trying to decide whether or not to install EMAS at Tokyo’s Narita International airport.

EMAS Falcon

Falcon 20 resting in the EMAS bed at the south end of the airport last January

EMAS is constructed of light concrete bricks that crumble beneath the weight of an aircraft, quickly slowing the machine to a halt, usually with minimal damage to the airplane. EMAS bricks safely stopped a Boeing 747 and an MD-11 aircraft when they overran runways at New York’s JFK airport some years ago. With the paint on Executive airport’s new EMAS barely dry last January, the system was put to the test about 4 a.m. when a Falcon 20 cargo jet struck the barrier at the south end of the airport after it was unable to stop while attempting to land on runway 16. The aircraft was barely scratched and there were no injuries to either of the two pilots.

With the training for airport and local firefighting crews still fresh, emergency crews responded quickly with each element of the incident response working just as expected. The aircraft was pulled out of the barrier later that day to be made ready to fly again.

The EMAS system, while still serviceable, did require repairs in order to bring it back to 100 percent strength. That meant ordering replacement blocks and scheduling crews to handle the repairs. Of course Executive airport had no experience with the process of repairing the EMAS, which meant quite a bit of interaction with insurance companies, the FAA and EMAS creator Zodiac Aerospace. These interactions were precisely what the people in Japan wanted to hear more about.

Mr. Abbott said the FAA spoke first about why U.S. airports have runway safety areas (RSA) and how valuable a product like EMAS can be to airports that don’t have the real estate for a standard RSA, like Executive. “Then they turned it over to me to explain how and why we chose the product,” Abbott explained.

“I also spoke about how we paid for the EMAS and details about the construction process, as well as how to inspect the system and maintain it.” In all, about 50 people attended the Tokyo event that was presented to the audience mainly through a Japanese translator.

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MD-11 rests in JFK EMAS bed

When asked why it was important enough to bring our Executive Director to Japan, Abbott said, “I think because our use of the EMAS barrier by that Falcon was such a textbook case. Everything worked just the way it was intended.” Abbott said there seemed to be tremendous benefits for the Japanese in the airport operator-to-airport operator kind of format used during the event.

EMAS: Good as New

EMAS Falcon

The early morning hours of January 26, 2016

Airports are labor intensive businesses. Every time you turn around, there always seems to something that needs attention.

A runway check each morning is easy enough to point out a broken runway light or two, or patch a piece of crumbling taxiway pavement. Sometimes though, the work’s a bit more involved, like when an airplane ends up somewhere we hope it wouldn’t, like a few months ago when a Falcon 20 landing on runway 16 ran through the engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) at the south end of the airport. The crushable blocks of this new-age runway safety system, did their job and halted the airplane with minimum damage to the airplane and zero damage to the pilots.

The EMAS engagement did leave a pretty glaring hole in the block structure though, something the airport fixed last week with the help of Boland Construction out of New York, a company experienced at EMAS repairs. The work was planned for eight nights of runway closures from 10 pm until 6 am the next morning. But time is money and airports and the businesses that depend upon us don’t make much when the main runway is shut down. The basic plan was to complete as much work each night safely and hope to maybe shave a night off the calendar which would mean less disruption for users.

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Today, the end of the runway’s all spic and span. Photo courtesy Lee Hogan

On Monday evening, the first barricades went up to protect workers and warn pilots again the runway should not be used. Boland’s nine employees removed a number of extra EMAS blocks that looked questionable on second inspection and used torches to loosen the adhesive that originally held the blocks in place. Time to call it a night.

Tuesday’s efforts were rained out, but everyone was back on Wednesday at 10 pm when the new blocks were put in place. By Thursday night, there wasn’t much to do except caulk the blocks – just like your bathroom tile – and add the new yellow striping. By Friday morning, it was time to coordinate with the control tower to keep aircraft away and allow everything time to cure. By Saturday morning, the long runway was open for business.

In the end, the teams managed to shave three full nights of work from the project which translated into increased runway availability for airport tenants and transient operators and it was back to business as usual.

Along with the runway, the 16 instrument landing system (ILS) was also brought back to life without the need for another flight check. Thanks for your patience everyone.

 

EMAS: It Just Works

EMAS FalconIt seems as if it was just a few months ago that we published a story explaining that the airport’s new engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) was operational.

Actually, come to think of it, we did just write that story in November, explaining the safety benefits of a new EMAS now stationed at each end of the long, essentially north to south, runway 16/34.

The EMAS was installed after the FAA published a requirement for a safety barrier at each end of the runway at most airports. Unfortunately, Chicago Executive airport is land-locked with no extra open space to simply lay down an extra 1,000 feet of concrete at each end, of the runway to create that barrier, known as a Runway Safety Area. EMAS was the next best option.

In the early morning hours of January 26, just three months after the final EMAS work was completed, a Falcon jet pilot had trouble stopping his aircraft as he landed to the south from over Wheeling.

As the pilot approached the crushable EMAS blocks at the south end of the airport near Palatine Rd., the barrier performed precisely as it was designed. The blocks began to crumble under the weight of the 20,000 lbs. airplane and halted the aircraft in about 150 feet, preventing it from entering nearby Palatine Road. Neither of the two pilots was injured and damage to the aircraft was minimal. The aircraft has since flown out of the airport and back to its home base in Michigan. The reason the pilot was unable to stop is still under investigation by the FAA.EMAS still

What’s really important about this story though is that the EMAS worked perfectly in January and brought the airplane to a safe stop with only minor damage. While an EMAS installation is not cheap, the Falcon pilots, as well as everyone in the community can rest easier knowing that the large aircraft that use runway 16/34 can indeed be stopped within the airport boundary in an emergency. Until repairs – estimated to cost about $396,000 – the barrier is still operational, except for the few blocks damaged by the Falcon that were removed. And in case you’re wondering, the airport doesn’t have to pay for the repairs. That bill gets sent to the insurance company of the Falcon’s operator.

Other business aviation airports that also thought ahead enough to install EMAS include, Greenville Downtown SC, Hyannis Barnstable MA. Dutchess County NY, Teterboro NJ, St.Paul Downtown MN, Kansas City Downtown MO, Newcastle Wilmington DE, Telluride CO, Martin County MD, Republic airport NY, Groton New London CT, Cleveland Burke Lakefront OH, Addison TX, and Monterey CA.

Runway 34 EMAS Enhances Safety at Chicago Executive Airport

Chicago Executive Airport’s main runway, 16/34, is 150 feet wide and 5,001 feet long. Constrained by Hintz Road to the north and West Palatine Road to the south, it will not grow any longer. But it will soon be safer, when the installation of the engineered material arresting system (EMAS) is completed at the departure end of Runway 34. If you’ve driven Hintz Road lately, you’ve seen the work on the other side of the airport fence.

Runway 16/34 safely serves the aircraft that call Chicago Exec home, but when the weather is bad, or there’s a rare problem with an airplane, safety is enhanced by an overrun area at each end of the runway. The FAA calls them a runway safety area, and it recommends 1,000 feet. In cases where that isn’t possible because the necessary real estate isn’t available, the FAA offers federal Airport Improvement Program grants to fund the installation of EMAS, which quickly and safely stops an airplane in much shorter distances with little or no damage to the airframe.

To date, EMAS is installed at more than 100 runways at 60 airports worldwide. Chicago Exec is one of the rare general aviation airports that not only have EMAS—the system is generally found at airports that serve commercial operations—it will have EMAS at both ends of its main runway. The airport completed the EMAS at the departure end of Runway 16 around this time last year, said Jamie Abbott, airport director. And before this year ends, the bookend system will be complete on the departure end of Runway 34.

As of this week, the contractor has finished the 170-foot wide, 231-foot long foundation that will connect the EMAS blocks to the runway’s threshold. The EMAS at the other end of the runway is of equal width, but it is 243 feet long. In the coming weeks, workers will begin placing the EMAS blocks. From Hintz Road they may look like large, heavy concrete cubes, but the arresting secret of their contribution to safety is hidden within. Continue reading