WARWICK, RI – As the work upgrading T.F. Green Airport continues, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regional Administrator Amy Corbett, Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) President and CEO Kelly J. Fredericks, and airport officials to celebrate a new milestone in the airport’s modernization. 

A major project to improve the runway safety areas on Runway 16-34 has been completed and brings the runway into compliance with federal safety standards.  Workers added an engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) to each end of the runway.  EMAS is a bed of high-tech, energy-absorbent blocks that are designed to help safely stop a plane that overshoots the runway on an aborted takeoff or landing.  The EMAS beds are comprised of a total of 7,662 individual, crushable blocks.

Additionally, the project, which cost about $40 million, includes reconstruction of approximately 1,650 feet of Runway 16-34 and a portion of Taxiway “C,” as well as improvements to navigational aids and construction related to wetlands mitigation.

“Safety is our top priority and these new high-tech buffers will enhance safety, particularly for larger planes.  I commend RIAC and Rhode Island workers for making these important safety upgrades on time and on budget.  The extension of the runway can have a positive impact on job growth and attracting new businesses and visitors to Rhode Island.  With this important safety project complete, our attention now can turn to making sure the runway extension project stays on target for completion by the end of 2017,” said Senator Reed.

In 2011, the FAA approved plans for T.F. Green to extend the primary runway, Runway 5-23, to the south by 1,530 feet to a total length of 8,700 feet.  The longer runway will allow for larger, heavier planes which could mean enhanced West Coast and international flight options for travelers.

“We are grateful to Senator Reed and the Federal Aviation Administration for their steadfast support of T.F. Green Airport and the Airport Expansion Program.  Today marks an important milestone in the project with the completion of the runway safety areas and reopening of runway 16-34.  Now we look to the future as we work toward December of 2017 and the opening of an extended runway,” said Kelly J. Fredericks, President & CEO, Rhode Island Airport Corporation.

With strong support from state and local officials, the business community, and labor, the T.F. Green runway expansion project has taken off and is well under way.  Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, has led efforts to work with the FAA on plans to invest approximately $110 million in upgrading T.F. Green Airport and expanding the runway.  Last week, he helped pass an Omnibus Appropriations bill to provide $16.28 billion in total budgetary resources for the FAA, an increase of $564 million above fiscal year 2015.  This level of funding for the FAA should help keep improvements for T.F. Green on schedule.

Other work on the airport modernization project -- including building a new de-icing treatment facility and the relocation of athletic fields – are complete and operational bringing immediate environmental and recreational benefits to Rhode Island.  Construction now focuses on the relocation of Main Avenue and the runway extension, with final completion scheduled for December 2017.

During the event, Reed also noted that all of these efforts are starting to pay off with the successful launch of seasonal international service to Germany and Cabo Verde.  Domestic carriers are also increasing frequency and routes and T.F. Green continues to be recognized by travelers as one of the best airports in the country for its easy accessibility. 

According to Aviation Week: “The case for improving runway safety areas (RSAs) is evident in safety data.  The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board say that, in the U.S., overruns account for “approximately 10 incidents or accidents every year with varying degrees of severity,” while an FAA study found that 90% of overruns result in an aircraft coming to rest within 1,000 ft. of the runway end.  Boeing data show that landing-phase accidents accounted for 18 fatal commercial airline accidents globally from 2004-13, more than any other flight phase.  Those accidents killed 796 people, third-most behind loss-of-control and controlled-flight-into-terrain mishaps, and more than the next eight categories combined.”