Air Canada Pilots Association

Air Canada Pilots Association

December 12, 2007 12:23 ET

Air Canada Pilots Call for Safety Enhancements at Pearson Airport Following Release of TSB Report on Air France Crash

Investment in technology can provide safety net for airport's shortest runway

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 12, 2007) - The Air Canada pilots say that there is a technological solution that may prevent another aircraft from over-running Pearson's shortest runway like the Air France aircraft did in August 2005.

"An Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) could prevent future aircraft over-runs which put the lives of passengers and crew at risk," says Air Canada Pilots Association President Capt. Andy Wilson. "We are thankful that no lives were lost, but we need to learn from this accident and act to prevent similar incidents in the future."

EMAS is a bed of lightweight, crushable concrete built at the end of a runway to stop an overrun aircraft with no human injury and minimal aircraft damage. The aircraft is slowed by the loss of energy required to crush the concrete blocks. A typical installation costs between $2-million and $5-million US, depending on how large an aircraft it is designed to stop.

There are 34 airports in the United States that use EMAS, but none in Canada. The EMAS installed at JFK in 1999 has successfully stopped three aircraft, including one Boeing-747. An installation to stop a Boeing-747 over-running the runway at 50 knots is approximately $9-million US.

"Pearson is our home airport and our pilots operate with more frequency there than any other pilot group," says Wilson. "EMAS or anything else that can be done to improve the safety of this runway is strongly encouraged."

The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) is the largest professional pilot group in Canada, representing the 3,200 pilots who fly Air Canada's fleet.


"As early as 1989, the FAA established airport design criteria that included a requirement for a RSA length of 300 m (1000 feet). By 1999, in recognition of the enhanced safety of a longer RESA, ICAO recommended that a RESA should extend at least 240 m beyond the end of the runway strip. Had a RESA been designed and published for Runway 24L in accordance with the ICAO recommended practice, an obstacle-free overrun area, free of hazardous ruts, depressions, and other surface variations, would have extended to a distance approximately 75 m beyond Convair Drive.

As stated in Section 1.10.11, alternative solutions do exist for runways that cannot meet the RESA standard or where the area beyond the RESA does not meet the recent ICAO recommended practice of a 240 m overrun area beyond the 60 m runway strip. The EMAS technology is designed to stop an aircraft where it is not possible to construct a 300 m (ICAO 60 m + 240 m) or FAA 300 m overrun. This technology has demonstrated that it provides an alternative for runways where natural obstacles, such as bodies of water or sharp drop-offs, as in the case of Runway 24L, make the construction of a standard safety area impracticable. Had Runway 24L been designed with a RESA built to ICAO recommended practice, the FAA standard, or the FAA alternate means of compliance, the damage to the aircraft and injuries to the passengers may have been reduced."

- Transportation Safety Board of Canada Report on Air France 358 Accident

Contact Information

  • ACPA Media Contacts:
    Capt. Steve Guetta
    Acting Chair, Technical and Safety Division
    (613) 257-7761
    Capt. Serge Beaulieu
    French-language Spokesperson
    (514) 236-2243
    Carl Mavromichalis
    Director of Communications
    (416) 578-2272