Emirates acts to stop runway incursions

 - November 11, 2007, 7:51 PM

Emirates Airlines has decided to add a Honeywell safety upgrade intended to prevent runway incursions to its fleet of more than 100 airliners. The Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS) is a software upgrade of the airplanes’ existing ground-proximity alerting system that warns pilots of potentially dangerous situations on runways and taxiways.

Using GPS position information and a detailed database of airport runways, RAAS issues aural advisories that cover a variety of situations. For example, the system will tell the crew how much runway distance remains during rejected takeoffs or long landings and warns them if they inadvertently try to take off from a taxiway or a runway that is too short.

Tim Jenkins, Emirates’ senior vice president for safety, said RAAS is “like having an extra pair of eyes in the cockpit.” Runway incursions are among the top safety threats facing aviation and are gaining increased attention from safety agencies seeking to prevent them. After saying the situation had reached the crisis level earlier this year, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reported “significant short-term” actions have improved safety on the ground at busy airports in the U.S. Those actions included pilot training initiatives and improved incursion warning systems for ground controllers.

The parties didn’t reveal terms of the deal, but RAAS as a stand-alone option sells for around $15,000. The software package comes as part of Honeywell’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), onboard gear that warns pilots of imminent terrain threats by providing aural callouts such as “Too Low!” and “Pull Up!” if they unintentionally fly too close to the ground. Emirates will begin installing RAAS software in its fleet of 107 airplanes including its Boeing 777 and Airbus A330, A340 and A310 fleets.