(Memphis) Something on the airport runway at Memphis International is making things a lot safer for plane passengers and drivers on the road.
You may have seen it inside the airport grounds at Shelby Drive and Airways, but you may not know it could be a lifesaver in case of an airplane emergency.
“If an aircraft does land long and run beyond the length of the runway, then the material would stop them and prevent a more serious accident from occurring,” says Airport Vice President of Operations John Greaud.
He says the gray-colored runway extension is called EMAS or Engineered Material Arresting System.
The FAA is asking all airports to install it on runways that run short of the extra 1000 feet needed in case landing planes have an emergency and over-run the runway.
At the Memphis Airport, only one of four runways didn’t have the 1,000-foot barrier, the one closest to Shelby Drive and Airways.
Before a few weeks ago, if a plane had an over-run, it could have crashed onto busy Shelby Drive.
“Since the airport has been open, I am not aware of an aircraft that has over-run the runway where they would have needed this, but it’s a very good safety system to have in place in case this does occur,” says Greaud.
The company that created the thick foam like blocks of crushable concrete that make up the EMAS system say they act like quick sand on a fast-moving plane.
”The additional friction on the tire slows the aircraft down,” says Greaud.
Travelers say it’s a safety precaution that’s worth its weight.
“More is better. If they want to add more safety without compromising cost, then fabulous. Let’s go for it,” one passenger told us.
Before this system was installed, the airport got a waiver from the FAA that allowed the shorter runway.
The new system costs around $11 million and the FAA paid 75 percent of that cost.