Airbus says it has decided not to keep its patented runway overrun prevention system (ROPS) as a "product differentiator", but to release it to competing aircraft builders. The manufacturer says its decision has been spurred by the fact that runway excursion is by far the air transport industry's most common serious accident category, and the occurrence rate is increasing faster than the world fleet is expanding.
Airbus' executive vice-president strategy and future programmes Christian Scherer says that it has received "a very positive reaction" from Bombardier, Embraer, Dassault Aviation - and from the aviation insurance industry - to the proposal to make ROPS commercially available to other manufacturers. Scherer says that the idea was also well received at last month's International Civil Aviation Organisation's Global Runway Safety Symposium, and that the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations backs the manufacturer's move.
At present ROPS, which consists of a software upgrade to existing aircraft systems, is being chosen by customers on all A380s that come off the line, having been certificated by EASA in October 2009, and it is installed on more than 60% of the in-service A380 fleet. It will be in all A350s, and from next year it will be available on the other new-build Airbus types or for retrofit.
ROPS is integrated with the aircraft's flight management and navigation systems, and provides the pilots with a real-time constantly updated picture in the navigation display of where the aircraft will stop on the runway in wet or dry conditions. If the approach profile varies, so does the stopping point. If it will not be possible to stop on the runway, the system provides the crew with a written and spoken "runway too short" warning.