Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson stood with FAA officials and other local dignitaries in driving rain and heavy winds for the grand reopening of Runway 10-28 at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
The ceremonial ribbon cutting on Thursday morning marked a new day at Hopkins where a new safety system has been installed to protect passengers and planes.
Airport Director Ricky Smith told several dozen onlookers a bed of energy absorbing materials called EMAS, or Engineered Materials Arresting System, are now in place at both ends of the runway to ensure planes that overshoot the pavement will have a soft landing.
"It minimizes the damage to the aircraft, and it also minimizes the loss of life," said Smith.
The $10 million system was installed on the least used of the three runways for moments like the one that happened at Hopkins back in 2007. A Delta commuter plane was unable to maintain control during a snowy landing, and crashed through a fence near NASA's property.
"It shows that we are competitive. We want to be, as always, competitive as an airport," said Mayor Jackson.
The material will give under the weight of a plane; its tires will sink into the crushable concrete, and that will slow down the aircraft.
The airport director told Fox 8 News that Hopkins' new safety system was money well spent.
"It's at several airports across the country, in those cases where EMAS had to be used, it's worked," said Smith. "We have not had an incident where it has not worked, so its success rate is very high."
A spokesperson for Hopkins said a 2005 accident at Chicago Midway, involving a Southwest Airlines jet, prompted the FAA to require commercial airports to have a runway safety area of 1,000 feet at each end of the air strip.