Sunday, August 09, 2020

Ground arrestor system: Avoiding runway overshoot disasters

Dubai: In recent years, aviation authorities have recommended that "table-top" airports should adopt ground arrestor at the end of the runway.

The life-saving value of such a system was highlighted following the deadly runway overshooting incident that killed at least 18 people at the Kozhikode airport in India on Friday night (August 7, 2020).

Kozhikode airport's two runways, 2,700 metres in length, sit on top of a hill in India's Kerala state.

Aircraft can and do overrun the ends of runways — sometimes with disastrous consequences. To minimise the hazards of overruns, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires a safety area 1,000 feet in length beyond the end of the runway.
This "safety area" is now an FAA standard. Many runways were built before its adoption. For those locations that do not have the space for a full safety area, "soft ground arrestors" provide an engineered solution to restore a margin of safety.

"Soft ground" of an "arrestor bed" means any material that will deform readily and reliably under the weight of an aircraft tyre. As the tyres crush the material, the drag forces decelerate the aircraft.

It's a form  of crushable concrete used to stop aircraft that overrun a runway.
Civil aviation industry experts have developed mathematical models that aid in the design of these arrestor beds and predict aircraft stopping distances.

Full-scale aircraft testing validated the models and set the stage for installation of these arrestor beds at major airports. The US has mandated it for all airports. It has at least three airports listed as having "table-top" runways.
Made out of "engineered materials", an arrestor (also "arrester") bed is a surface made of special materials — a type of "soft" concrete used to stop aircraft that overrun a runway — designed to reduce the severity of the consequences of a runway overshot.

Arrestor beds had already proven their worth on a number of accassions.
In the past decade, experts have recommended the installation of such a safety system on India's so-called table-top runways. It's been reported that Indian authorities "ignored" at least two such recommendations, made following an investigation report into the 2010 crash of another Air India Express jet, also on another table-top runway.
09/08/20 Jay Hilotin/Gulf News
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