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Queenstown Airport to install pioneering runway safety system

written by Newsdesk | July 4, 2024

Queenstown Airport is set to become the first in Australasia to install an advanced runway safety system, with work scheduled to begin this spring.

The airport will invest over $20 million to install engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) beds at both ends of its main runway.

EMAS technology is designed to safely stop aircraft that overshoot the runway, minimising potential damage and increasing overall safety.

Adrienne Young-Cooper, Board Chair of Queenstown Airport, said: “Our decision to use this innovative technology is evidence of our proactive approach to risk management.”

The project is the first to arise from the airport’s Master Plan completed last year, which outlines significant infrastructure investments for the coming decade.

Todd Grace, Acting Chief Executive of Queenstown Airport, explained: “Runway overruns are rare, but the consequences can be catastrophic, so we want to do everything possible to mitigate that risk here.”

The EMASMAX system uses energy-absorbing cellular cement blocks that crush under an aircraft’s weight, bringing it to a controlled stop. It will provide equivalent protection to a 240-metre runway end safety area, a substantial increase from the current 90-metre minimum.


Globally, 128 EMASMAX beds have been installed, with a 100% success rate in safely stopping 22 aircraft ranging from business jets to a Boeing 747.

Runway Safe, a global supplier, has been contracted to install the technology. Work will be carried out at night and is expected to be completed by the end of summer, with no disruption to flight schedules or changes to aircraft types permitted to land at the airport.

This investment demonstrates Queenstown Airport’s commitment to maintaining high safety standards while prioritising operational efficiency, resilience, customer experience, and sustainability.

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