PICTURES: Crushable concrete cushions CRJ overrun at Yeager

Washington DC
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A crushable concrete arresting system designed and installed by Zodiac subsidiary ESCO prevented a PSA Airlines Bombardier CRJ200 from plunging down an embankment at the Yeager airport in Charleston, West Virginia on 19 January after a high-speed rejected takeoff.

According to airport and airline officials, US Airways Express Flight 2495, en route to Charlotte with 31 passengers and three crew, came to rest approximately 46m (150ft) into the 123m engineered material arresting system (EMAS) bed at approximately 16:20EST. There were no injuries to the passengers and crew, who deplaned on the arresting bed.

 ©Charleston Yeager Airport

The airport installed the system at the end of Runway 23 in May 2007 to prevent aircraft from descending a steep hillside directly behind the runway. The 123m EMAS bed provides the equivalent of an FAA-required 305m (1,000ft) runway safety area for the types of aircraft using the airport. The system is designed to stop an aircraft the size of a CRJ travelling at 70kt (130km/h) with no reverse thrust and poor braking when it leaves the runway.

 ©Charleston Yeager Airport

ESCO has installed more than 44 systems in the USA and four beds internationally since 1996, and has 16- to-20 additional beds under contract, says ESCO spokesman Kevin Quan. EMAS is credited with six saves to date, including the Charleston overrun this week and the capture of a Mexicana Airlines A320 at Chicago O'Hare after a landing excursion in 2008.

The CRJ200 (N246PS) was removed and the runway reopened within 6h of the incident, according to the airport. The NTSB has launched an investigation into the rejected takeoff and overrun, says the FAA. PSA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Airways.