Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence was saved from disaster by a little known safety feature last night when his campaign plane skidded off the runway at New York’s LaGuardia airport.
Photographs showed the chartered Boeing 737-700, with Trump and Pence’s names painted on the fuselage, had sliced through concrete blocks adjacent to the runway upon landing in heavy rain.
While the damage on the ground appeared severe, that was by design. The material the plane cut through is called an arrestor bed. The four at LaGuardia are made with lightweight, easily crushable concrete, designed to collapse under the weight of the airplane and safely stop it if it skids or overshoots the runway.
Not including Thursday’s incident, the Federal Aviation Administration says there have been 10 reports of arrestor beds safely stopping aircraft.
FAA requires a buffer zone called a “runway safety area” that is usually 500 feet wide and 1,000 feet beyond the runway. But many US airports including LaGuardia were built before the 1,000 foot standard was established in the 1990s. That’s where the arrestor beds come into play. They are also useful for airports that lack available land, like LaGuardia, because they are built close to water or border residential areas or a busy highway like LaGuardia does.
LaGuardia is undergoing a $4 billion renovation that will completely remake the airport by 2019. US vice president Joe Biden, who was on hand for the announcement in 2015, has slammed LaGuardia as a “third world country.” At least it has one safety feature that both Republicans and Democrats can be thankful for.