Chicago Airports to Install First-Ever Sustainable EMAS Solution at Midway and O’Hare

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Chicago Department of Aviation Approves Installation of Runway Safe greenEMAS

Chicago Midway International Airport Runway Safe greenEMAS

“The FAA commissioned us to come up with alternative systems... we created Runway Safe EMAS. It is environmentally sustainable," stated Kirk Marchand, Runway Safe CEO.

Runway Safe ( announced today that it will install five additional greenEMAS (Engineered Material Arresting Systems) at Chicago Midway and O’Hare International Airports, making these airports the first in the world to exclusively use the Runway Safe greenEMAS systems. The first Runway Safe greenEMAS was installed in November 2014 at Midway and is a specially designed system that uses lightweight aggregate silica foam made from recycled glass to arrest aircraft should they overrun the runway.

The contract between Runway Safe and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), which operates both Chicago O’Hare International (ORD) and Midway International (MDW) Airports, has been crucial in the successful launch of the Runway Safe greenEMAS. The CDA plans to install three more Runway Safe greenEMAS systems at Midway by the end of 2016 and two additional at O’Hare shortly thereafter.

“We are excited to further our partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation. We realize airports are looking for cost effective options, something we are proving through the performance of our first installation on Runway 22L at Midway. The ease of repair and the fact that the materials can be again recycled are additional benefits to using this system,” stated Kirk Marchand, Runway Safe CEO.

Per federal mandate, by the end of 2015, US airports are required to comply with the standard 1,000 feet (300 m) end of runway safety area (RSA). For airports built before these standards were put into effect, the FAA has begun funding the installation of EMAS beds at the ends of the main runways to mitigate the non-standard RSA. Standard arresting systems are designed to stop aircraft in an overrun situation traveling at 70 knots (80 mph).

"The FAA and National Academy of Sciences commissioned us to come up with alternative systems,'' stated Marchand. "Through this research, Runway Safe EMAS was created by researchers at Protection Engineering Consultants, the authors of the research, led by principal investigator, Matthew Barsotti. The system is built from recycled materials. We view the first installation and application at Midway as the poster child for all future applications.”

The primary construction material is a lightweight aggregate silica foam (or “foam glass”) made from recycled glass. Rather than using cement or polymer based foams, the Runway Safe greenEMAS uses recycling streams that often go underutilized. As a silica product, silica foam is environmentally safe, non-flammable, and insoluble. The silica foam can be brought to the site loose, poured in place, leveled to the right height, and covered with a permanent cover layer. The loose fill properties of the material allows for monolithic installation, promising the customer a significant cost savings in installation and maintenance.

While it was first installed in the U.S., Runway Safe meets compliance standards to be used at airports around the world.    

About Runway Safe
In 2007, Protection Engineering Consultants was tasked by the FAA and National Academy of Sciences with researching new options for EMAS due to lack of competition, as well as the cost and maintenance needs of the existing system. Based on this research, the Runway Safe greenEMAS was developed.

The patented design utilizing silica foam layered with a durable polymer concrete cover makes the Runway Safe greenEMAS more resistant to the harsh elements of a runway’s environment. Runway Safe’s robust design results in a durable product that promises reduced maintenance costs and a longer life of the arresting system.

Every Runway Safe greenEMAS is tailored to the needs of the environment. The engineering team works with the airport to ensure government compliance, system familiarization, site survey work, site design, production of detailed construction specifications, cost estimating, scheduling and/or constructability.

The Runway Safe greenEMAS promises a lower total cost of ownership due to the robust design, ease of installation and maintenance, and first-class customer service. With its unprecedented five-year warranty, Runway Safe will ensure that every customer receives the highest level of support.

The Runway Safe EMAS has been certified as compliant with the United States FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-22B.

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Jennifer Fortney
Runway Safe
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