Change of Heart?

Paul Bowers
July-August
2019

The runway story about DeKalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK) that ran in our May/June issue was tough to publish. Yes, it contained valuable details about how the successful runway project was accomplished. But it also noted that PDK’s new engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) would likely be one of the last installed at a U.S. airport for quite some time. And that was difficult for us to report.

You see, the EMAS provider, Zodiac Aerospace, had merged with Safran; and soon after, Safran announced it would no longer sell EMAS in the U.S. It planned to supply replacement blocks for existing systems, but the company would not be installing new arrestor beds. Because Zodiac was the only FAA-approved system eligible for FAA funding, most of the U.S. airport market was essentially going to be left high and dry.

The announcement that Zodiac/Safran was leaving the U.S. market as an active participant was a stunner, and, quite frankly, disappointing. After all, Zodiac had been an integral, decades-long partner with FAA and our airports to develop the game-changing product in the first place. It had installed more than 100 systems at nearly 70 U.S. airports!

Fortunately, something changed. In mid-May, shortly after our story about PDK was released, we received a letter from Safran saying that it was re-engaging in the EMAS marketplace—both in the U.S. and internationally. “We are pleased to inform you that Safran has signed a multi-lease extension for our EMASMAX production and R&D facility. The lease extension ensures that the business is able to provide blocks and all other services throughout our ongoing divestment process…This includes all our original capabilities such as: design of EMASMAX beds for new and replacement installations, maintenance/repairs, inspections, training and field strength testing.” 

This is welcome news, and reason to celebrate! Despite the heartburn caused by earlier announcements about Zodiac/Safran leaving the market, it’s reassuring to know that a product that has proved successful saving aircraft and lives will still be available.

For the latest details about Zodiac, Safran and/or PDK, visit our website: airportimprovement.com and type EMAS or any of the three names into the search field.

Cheers!

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