American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) has decided to equip all of its new A320 Family fleet with Airbus’ innovative Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) technology. This onboard cockpit technology, which Airbus has pioneered independently over several years, increases pilots’ situational awareness during landing, reduces exposure to runway excursion risk, and if necessary, provides active protection.
ROPS was first approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the A380 in October 2009 and to date is currently in service or ordered on around 70 percent of the A380 fleet. ROPS is part of the A350 XWB’s basic configuration and is also being applied on the other Airbus types being produced today, starting with the A320 Family, with certification on this type expected later this year.
“We are proud to be the first airline to equip our entire A320 family aircraft with this state-of-the-art technology,” said Capt. John Hale, Vice President – Flight for American Airlines. “Our pilots appreciate the operational benefits that this industry-approved cockpit technology will bring to their daily work.”
“ROPS is the result of years of continuing research by Airbus,” said Yannick Malinge, Airbus’ Senior Vice President and Chief Product Safety Officer. “Its selection by American Airlines for its A320 Family fleet underscores the value and significant contribution that ROPS brings to aviation safety. Airbus is proud to be on the leading edge of this technology for our industry – where safety is the universal priority.”
Runway excursion – meaning either an aircraft veering off the side of the runway, or overrunning at the very end – has become the primary cause of civil airliner hull losses in recent years, particularly as other formerly prevalent categories of aircraft accidents have now largely been eliminated. Furthermore, various industry bodies including the EASA, NTSB, Eurocontrol and FAA recognize this and are fully behind the introduction of effective measures by commercial aviation stakeholders to not only mitigate, but eliminate the risk of runway excursions.
In line with this, Airbus is working to make ROPS commercially available to other aircraft manufacturers’ aircraft. The system could be coupled with the mandatory Terrain Avoidance Warning System already fitted on Airbus aircraft and will utilize an enhanced and specifically developed version of its worldwide runway database.
The Airbus-patented ROPS computes minimum realistic inflight landing and ground stopping distances while comparing them to available landing distances in real time. The analyses take into account factors such as runway topography, runway condition, aircraft weight and configuration, wind, and temperature. The resulting outcome produces audio callouts and alerts for pilots, making ROPS an awareness tool to assist the crew in the go-around decision making process and the timely application of ground stopping means.
To regularly enhance the A320 Family’s capabilities and performance, Airbus invests approximately 300 million euros annually in keeping the aircraft highly competitive and efficient. More than 9,400 A320 Family aircraft have been ordered and around 5,400 delivered to more than 380 customers and operators worldwide – reaffirming its position as the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft Family.
Images: Airbus. Of course the new A319s and A321s will not appear in this old 1968 livery.