LaGuardia Airport getting more arrestor beds

The Engineered Materials Arresting System at J. F.

The Engineered Materials Arresting System at J. F. Kennedy International Airport successfully stopped this cargo plane on May 30, 2003. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's board authorized $203 milion in spending for runway improvements at LaGuardia, with the bulk of that money going for the arrestor beds. (Credit: Port Authority)

LaGuardia Airport will get a safety upgrade to slow and stop planes that overshoot the airport's two runways during landings or aborted takeoffs, the Port Authority announced yesterday.

The work will involve the installation of "arrestor beds," sometimes referred to as "flypaper for planes," that act like the "runaway truck ramps" seen on some steep highways. The beds consist of air-filled blocks of concrete that crumble under a plane's wheels and slow it.

The authority's board voted to authorize $203 million for runway improvements at LaGuardia, with the bulk of that money going for the arrester beds, agency officials said in a news release.

Two new beds will be installed at the northern runway ends, facing the East River and the Bronx, by the end of 2015, the agency said. The Queens-facing southern ends of the two runways are already equipped with beds.

One of the existing arrestor beds was installed near the airport perimeter road just north of the Grand Central Parkway, but is not visible to motorists.

The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring airports to improve runway safety. Some localities with vacant land are simply extending the runways. But the airports run by the Port Authority have little or no room for expansion and instead are installing the arrestor beds, Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said.

Arrestor beds also are in use at Kennedy, Newark Liberty and Teterboro airports, according to the Port Authority.

Kennedy Airport is bounded largely on the south and east by Jamaica Bay and its marshlands, on the west by the Howard Beach section of Queens and on the north by the Nassau Expressway and Belt Parkway. LaGuardia Airport is bordered on three sides by the waters of the East River and by Flushing and Bowery bays, and on the south by the Grand Central Parkway.

Both facilities are on the U.S. Department of Transportation's list of 11 airports that are struggling to meet federal requirements for runway safety.

In 1992, 27 people died when USAir Flight 405 crashed into the water off LaGuardia after aborting a takeoff during a snowstorm. In another halted takeoff at LaGuardia in 1989, two passengers were killed when USAir Flight 5050 plunged off the runway.

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