American Airlines has decided to equip all of its A320 Family fleet with Airbus’ innovative Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) technology. This on-board 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 per cent 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 equip our entire A320 family aircraft fleet with this state-of-the-art ROPS 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 for aircraft from other manufacturers. The system will be coupled to the mandatory Terrain Avoidance Warning System already fitted and will utilize an enhanced and specially developed version of its worldwide runway database.
The Airbus-patented ROPS computes minimum realistic in-flight landing and on-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 also the timely application of retardation/stopping means on touchdown.
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 9,150 A320 Family aircraft have been ordered and around 5,460 delivered to over 385 customers and operators worldwide – reaffirming its position as the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft Family.