Avianca, an all-Airbus operator, will equip 21 of its A320 Family aircraft with the Airbus Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS). This on-board cockpit technology increases pilots’ situational awareness during landing, reduces exposure to runway excursion risk, and, if necessary, provides active protection. Avianca, which merged with TACA in 2010, was rebranded as Avianca last year. The Colombia-based airline group is also made up of Tampa Cargo and Aerogal.
Runway excursions are the number one cause of commercial aviation accidents in the world. The patented Airbus ROPS system computes minimum realistic in-flight landing and on-ground stopping distances and compares them to available landing distances in real time. The system combines data on weather, runway condition and topography, and aircraft weight and configuration. Depending on the resulting analysis, ROPS may prompt immediate callouts and alerts for pilots, assisting the crew in the go-around decision-making process and/or the timely application of stopping means on touchdown.
In November, Airbus achieved Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of ROPS for the Airbus A320 Family. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified ROPS on the A320ceo (current engine option) Family in August. American Airlines became the first ROPS customer for the Americas when it has elected to equip all of its A320 Family fleet with Airbus’ ROPS.
The President of Avianca, Fabio Villegas, noted that: “The incorporation of the Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) in 21aircraft in Avianca's Airbus fleet, will give pilots the information they need to take the best decisions for a safe landing in the minimum time possible. As a company this will allow us to stay at the vanguard of technology for safety.”
“Airbus applauds Avianca for being an industry pioneer in Latin America. They will be the first in the region to implement the latest cockpit technology to increase their pilots situational awareness and reduce exposure to runway excursion risk,” said Yannick Malinge, Airbus’ Senior Vice President and Chief Product Safety Officer. “We are confident that authorities and customers are quickly going to measure the great advantages ROPS brings to commercial aviation in offering a design solution to address the risk of runway overrun.”
Avianca based its fleet modernization and expansion programs on Airbus aircraft. In early 2012, Avianca ordered 51 A320 Family aircraft including 33 eco-efficient A320neo. In December of 2012, Avianca Cargo, formerly known as Tampa Cargo, became the first operator of the A330-200 Freighter in the region with the first of four deliveries. Avianca has ordered 190 aircraft, operates more than 100 Airbus aircraft and has a backlog of more than 60 Airbus aircraft.
ROPS was first approved by EASA on the A380 in 2009 certified for the A320 Family in 2013 and to date is currently in service or ordered on most of the worldwide A380 fleet. In 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended to the FAA that it “actively pursue with aircraft and avionics manufacturers the development of technology to reduce or prevent runway excursions and, once it becomes available, require that the technology be installed” (A-11-28). ROPS is part of the A350 XWB’s basic configuration. In addition, Airbus is working to make ROPS commercially available for aircraft from other manufacturers. Yet another benefit of the system is one outside of safety – airlines save money by reducing their insurance premiums for all aircraft featuring ROPS.
In November it was announced that the Airbus team responsible for the design and implementation of ROPS was nominated as a finalist for an Aviation Week Laureate Award, with the winner to be named in March 2014.