American Airlines is going to equip its entire Airbus A320 Family fleet with Airbus’ innovative Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) technology and this new on-board cockpit technology will also become available to other manufacturers aircraft as well.
ROPS, 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.
Video demonstration of Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS)
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.