-By John Lynds
Massport officials were at the Orient Heights Neighborhood Council (OHNC) meeting Monday night to brief the community on the Boston Logan International Airport Runway Safety Area (RSA) Improvements Project.
Massport plans to enhance the runway safety areas at the ends of Runway 33L and Runway 22R at Logan. At Monday’s OHNC meeting Massport’s Flavio Leo explained that RSAs are safety improvements that do not extend runways or have any effect on normal runway operations, runway capacity, or types of aircraft that can use the runways. leo said Massport is required to enhance the RSAs, to the extent feasible, to be consistent with current Federal Aviation Administrations airport design criteria, and to enhance rescue access in the event of an emergency.
Typical RSAs at the end of a runway are level areas 1,000 feet long by 500 feet wide but may be shorter in length if an Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) is installed at the runway end, a kind of gravel intended to slow down the plane’s forward motion.
Runway 33L, Logan’s longest runway is 10,081-foot runway and already has a 190-foot safety area, but that will be extended to meet the requirements set by the FAA.
This would require Massport to extend the RSA on Runway 33L by 600 feet and not the 1,000 feet usually required by the FAA because of the EMAS the Port Authority plans to use at the end of the runway. This would reduce harbor intrusion by 400 feet according to Leo.
On Runway 22R, Massport plans to simply enhance the current RSA with an inclined safety area.
The FAA requires airports to provide a safety area at runway ends and on the sides of a runway to reduce the risk of damage to aircraft in the event of an unintentional “excursion” from the runway in an emergency situation. An excursion from the runway can include an overrun (an arriving aircraft fails to stop before the end of the runway), an undershoot (an aircraft arriving on a runway touches down before the start of the paved runway surface), or a veer-off to one side of a runway.
On January 23, 1982, World Airways Flight 30 from Newark to Boston made a non-precision instrument approach to Runway 33L/15R and touched down 2,800 feet past the displaced threshold on an icy runway. When the crew sensed that the DC-10 couldn’t be stopped on the remaining runway, they steered the DC-10 off the side of the runway to avoid the approach light pier, and slid into the shallow water of the Boston Harbor. The nose section separated as the DC-10 came to rest 250 feet past the runway end, 110 feet left of the extended centerline. Two passengers, a father and son, were never found and are presumed to have been swept out to sea.
Since the accident, Massport has been working hard to meet federal requirements for safety areas at the ends of its runways.
Leo said construction on the $73 million project would begin June 1 and go until November 20. Construction would resume after the winter on May 1, 2012 and end on November 20, 2012.
Leo said Massport would completely close the two runways from July to October in both 2011 and 2012 so work at the end of the two runways could be completed.
Construction mitigation includes no overnight construction and time restriction on the work being done limited to 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Leo said most activity and materials delivered to the two work sites would be shipped in by barge to minimize the use of local streets in Eastie.
Also, to minimize noise Leo said concrete piles would be used instead of steel, hydraulic drivers instead of diesel drivers would be used for the piles and Massport would construct pile driver enclosures around the work site.
However, Massport admits that the closure of the two runways may cause an increase in air traffic noise but pledged to work with air traffic controllers to minimize persistent use of available runways over the neighborhood.