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Supreme Court issues notice in plea seeking adaption of EMAS technology to avert flight mishaps

The plea seeks for an enquiry into why EMAS i.e. technology, which can be used to prevent aeroplanes from overshooting the runway, has not been installed earlier, despite specific knowledge regarding the same.

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the DGCA on a plea seeking the adoption of a technology known as Engineered Materials Arrestor System (EMAS) which can be used for aircrafts that overshoot the runway or to abort the takeoff in such a scenario.

Notice has been issued by a Bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The plea filed by Advocate on Record Shohit Chaudhry states that the EMAS technology arrests the aircraft where it is at risk of overrunning the runway, thereby preventing the loss of life or damage to the aircraft.

"This technology has already been deployed in over 125 runways across the world," reads the plea.

The petitioner is a mechanical engineer by profession. He states that Airport Authority of India was inclined to install EMAS in the airports in Calicut initially, and in Mangalore subsequently.

To this end proposals for both the airports we also invited. However, in 2008, due to the extreme economic crisis, the Calicut EMAS project was put in abeyance.

The petitioner prays for the installation of EMAS in the airports located in Mangalore, Karnataka and Calicut, Kerala. Further, it is urged that the Centre be directed to examine which other runways and airports in the country require the same and to pass directions for installations of the same.

"EMAS system is an arrestor bed which uses crushable material placed at the end of a runway to stop an aircraft that overruns the runway. This crushable material generally consists of concrete blocks. - It easily stops / arrests aircraft going at the speed of 70 knots or less. This is when no braking contribution from aircraft reverse thrust is considered."

reads the plea

Further the plea avers that EMAS is installed in approximately more than 125 airports across the world, with more than 100 in the USA itself.

"The installation of EMAS would not only have saved hundreds of lives, but would have also save crores of rupees in aircraft and aircraft equipment. There have at least been 15 incidents in the USA itself, where the EMAS has come into play and has prevented accidents," the petitioner submits.

The petitioner also seeks an enquiry to be conducted as to why the EMAS has not been installed earlier, despite specific knowledge. The Court has been urged to issue directions for taking appropriate action against the officials responsible under criminal law or any other law.

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