I've only performed high speed aborts in the sim. They can be very intense. The most difficult abort was done on a snow covered runway with a stiff crosswind. The plane ended up off the runway. Cudos to this crew and to the party responsible for getting the money to install an EMAS.
Follow this link for a photo of the CRJ-200 in this story after being stopped by the EMAS. I respect the work of photographers which is why I didn't copy and paste the photo on my blog.
January 19, 2010
Plane skids off runway at Yeager; airport reopens
Safety zone system stops US Airways jet 100 feet from edge of hilltop airport
Emergency crews respond to the aborted takeoff of a Charlotte-bound US Airways Express jet that came to rest in a safety zone at the end of Yeager Airport's main runway on Tuesday.
By Rick Steelhammer
By Kathryn Gregory
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A US Airways Express regional jet carrying 30 passengers and three crew members aborted its takeoff at Charleston's Yeager Airport on Tuesday, rolled onto an overrun area at the end of the main runway, and came to a stop in a specially designed safety zone about 100 feet from the edge of the hilltop airport.
No one was injured in the incident, which took place shortly before 4:30 p.m. The airport remained closed until the 50-passenger Bombardier CRJ200 regional jet, which was bound for Charlotte, N.C., could be removed from the safety zone.
The safety zone contains a runway-wide Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS), comprised of concrete blocks designed to collapse under the weight of an airplane and bring it to a safe stop. It was installed in 2008 for $5 million as part of Yeager's new runway extension project.
The jet's wheels were buried in the EMAS material, with its fuselage coming to rest only a few feet above the specially engineered pavement.
A crane was brought in and used to remove the aircraft from the safety zone. The airport reopened shortly before 10 p.m.
"The EMAS system did exactly what it was supposed to do," said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper. "My understanding is that the US Airways plane rolled through about three-fourths of the EMAS at the Charleston end of the runway.
"If it hadn't been for the EMAS, I'm convinced a catastrophic accident would have occurred."
Passengers were taken off the plane and back into the terminal.
"It was a little scary, but everyone remained calm," said Julia Shaffer of Valrico, Fla.
"We were going pretty fast down the runway and then all of a sudden we started to slow down and it started to get bumpy. Then we completely stopped," said her 14-year-old son, Jonah. "I thought the tire had shredded or something.
"But when we stopped it seemed like the wing was a little lower to the ground than it should be," he said. That was due to the plane sinking into the EMAS.
"We sat in the plane for a little while until the firemen came, and then we just went down the ladder and walked out," he said.
After the aircraft came to rest, "The pilot said he decided to stop because he was getting some kind of a warning signal," said Julia Shaffer. "He said he thought it was better to stop on the ground than in the air.
"He had to make a split-second decision, and I'm glad he decided to stop. Everyone's safe -- that's all that matters. It all happened pretty fast. No one was panicky."
"It was kind of alarming -- kind of a jerky ride before we stopped really close to the end of the runway," said Lindsay Robinson of Charleston, who was among the Charlotte-bound passengers. "But everyone seemed really calm."
Julia and Jonah Shaffer, along with Julia's husband Steve and Jonah's sister Hannah, had spent the past several days skiing with relatives at Winterplace.
"I think Jonah's hoping this means we can stay here and keep skiing," said Julia Shaffer.
Authorities did not immediately know what warning signal prompted the pilot to abort the flight.
"The cost to repair the EMAS area will be enormous," said Carper. "But when you have everyone walk away uninjured from something like this, the cost is insignificant."
Staff writer Kathryn Gregory contributed to this report.