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Wed, Jun 07, 2006

FAA Agrees To $15 Million For Midway Improvements

Will Add EMAS To Two Runways

Six months after a tragic runway overrun at Chicago's Midway Airport, the FAA has authorized $15 million to be spent in an effort to ensure such an event will never happen again.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the money will be used to begin construction of soft concrete beds -- known as the Engineered Materials Arresting System -- at ends of two of Midway's four runways. The EMAS system consists of bricks designed to collapse under the weight of a speeding jet, slowing the aircraft down before it can run off the end of the runway.

In April, Chicago city officials submitted a $40 million proposal to the FAA to install the concrete beds at the ends of all its runways... and while Midway didn't get all the money requested, the FAA believes it will give Midway a good place to start.

"We wanted to get them started on it because the work is so important," FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said to the Associated Press.

Such a system may have been able to stop the Southwest Airlines jet that crashed through a perimeter fence and onto a nearby road on December 8, 2005, striking a passing car and killing a 6-year-old boy inside.

Midway is one of nearly 300 commercial airports nationwide that don't meet the FAA's requirement for 1,000-foot safety zones at the end of runways -- but the installation of EMAS will bring Midway into compliance.

Congress has said all affected airports need to either meet the 1,000-foot requirement -- or provide alternatives -- by 2015.

FMI: www.chicago-mdw.com, www.faa.gov

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