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Mon, Nov 27, 2006

EMAS System Installed At Chicago's Midway

In Response To Overrun Last Year

Runway 31-C at Chicago's Midway Airport -- the same runway a Southwest Airlines 737 overran during a snowstorm last December, striking a car and killing a six-year-old boy -- is the first at the airport to have a concrete arrestor bed installed at its departure end.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports officials at Midway plan to eventually install Engineered Material Arrestor System (EMAS) beds at the departure ends of four runways at the busy downtown airport.

As Aero-News reported in June, the FAA authorized funding for the project in response to growing concerns about the lack of adequate safety zones at Midway. Federal standards call for 1,000-foot buffer zones at the ends of commercial runways -- a regulation many airports don't meet.

The Sun-Times states runway 31-C, Midway's longest runway, doesn't have enough room at the end for the standard 600 foot EMAS pad... but the system in place should still be enough to stop a Boeing 757 traveling at 41 knots, according to city officials.

Additional crushable blocks will be added to the structure next spring, with construction on the remaining three runways to begin then as well. The FAA needs to relocate some navigational equipment before construction can begin.

The decision to install EMAS at Midway marked a departure from the city's previous position -- espoused by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and others -- that major changes weren't needed at Midway.

FMI: www.chicago-mdw.com/, Read The FAA Fact Sheet On EMAS

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