American Airlines selects Airbus Runway Overrun Prevention System for A320 family fleet

FORT WORTH, Texas, 29 March 2013. American Airlines officials have elected to equip the company’s entire A320 family fleet with Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) technology from Airbus.

The onboard cockpit technology increases pilots' situational awareness during landing, reduces exposure to runway excursion risk, and if necessary, provides active protection.

"We are proud to be the first airline to equip our entire A320 family aircraft with this state-of-the-art technology," says 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, first approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the A380 in October 2009, is currently in service or ordered on roughly 70 percent of the A380 fleet. ROPS is part of the A350 XWB's basic configuration and is being applied on other Airbus types being produced, starting with the A320 family.

"ROPS is the result of years of continuing research by Airbus," explains 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. Various industry bodies including the EASA, NTSB, Eurocontrol, and FAA recognize this and are behind the introduction of effective measures by commercial aviation stakeholders not only to mitigate, but also to eliminate the risk of runway excursions.

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.

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