Case Study on Standards: Aircraft Braking Measurements

As part of its 125th anniversary celebration, ASTM International invited case study submissions from committee members around the world, highlighting standards that have made a significant impact in society – and that have bettered the world around us. Numerous exceptional submissions were received, making the work of ASTM’s panel of judges even more difficult in narrowing down the list to eight winners.

Standardization News is publishing all eight winning entries in 2023. We continue the series with a standard for aircraft braking measurements from the committee on vehicle pavement systems (E17): Standard guide for friction-limited aircraft braking measurements and reporting (E3266).

Identify the need for the development of this standard: What problem is this standard trying to solve? Who initiated the development of the standard?

The standard guide for friction-limited aircraft braking measurements and reporting (E3266) directly addresses open-safety recommendation A-16-24 from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which calls for industry collaboration “to develop procedures that ensure that aircraft-based braking ability results can be readily conveyed to and easily interpreted by arriving flight crews, airport operators, air traffic control personnel, and others.” This recommendation originated from a 2005 fatal aircraft accident at Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) and was republished after a 2015 runway excursion at LaGuardia International Airport.

This is the world’s first engineering standard for defining aircraft-based braking ability and has been specifically referenced in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada regulatory guidance as the only standard to be referenced in defining this new capability.

Identify the interest groups that participated in the development and/or revision to the standard.

This project originated as a partnership between ASTM and the Society of Aircraft Performance and Operations Engineers (SAPOE). SAPOE formed a subject matter expert task group to ASTM’s aircraft friction subcommittee (E17.62). The task group was comprised of members from Boeing, Airbus, NAVBLUE, the FAA, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Aviation Safety Technologies, and Four Winds Aerospace Safety Corp. Review and approval of the standard was provided by a wide range of industry stakeholders to include major airports, pavement-testing manufacturers, and academics. The purpose of this collaboration was to take the unique knowledge of large-aircraft certification and present it to an audience with experience in pavement friction to achieve the widest possible industry buy-in and acceptance.

How is this standard commonly used by industry?

Braking action reports are currently reported by flight crews. However, until recently, there has been no connection between the engineering definitions of aircraft performance and the flight crew reporting. E3266 is now being incorporated to close that large gap in risk management.

The standard has now been incorporated into government regulatory guidance with the Canadian Advisory Circular 700-060 “Braking Action,” as well as draft FAA advisory Circular 91-79B, “Aircraft Landing Performance and Runway Excursion Mitigation.” The ASTM standard has fundamentally changed the way aircraft braking action reports are incorporated into the National Airspace System by introducing two new terms based on the ASTM guidance. The aircraft braking action report (ABAR) and pilot braking action report (PBAR) will both use E3266 concepts for reporting content, precision, accuracy, and quality assurance.

How has the standard impacted health and safety?

Aircraft have been operating on contaminated runways without a having a sensor to communicate the true condition of the pavement. This lack of information from the aircraft could result in runway excursions, a veer off, or overrun from the runway surface. Runway excursions related to unexpectedly poor friction have been a top safety priority for the past 20 years with the FAA, NTSB, European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Since publication, the standard has enabled a process that will significantly reduce this risk. AC 700-060 from Transport Canada is now currently in effect and will greatly increase the confidence of braking action reporting in the future.

The FAA guidance will be even broader, enabling new technologies in aircraft flight data sensing and analysis to be formally recognized and approved for air-carrier operations.

How do consumers and the public benefit from these standards?

Airline passengers’ safety increases when aircraft sense and communicate to the crew when a runway has become too contaminated to allow a safe landing. In the 2005 MDW overrun, three aircraft landed before the accident aircraft and experienced poor braking. Of all the other decelerating forces of an aircraft, discriminating wheel-braking forces can be quite difficult for pilots. For this reason, the danger was not observed nor reported, resulting in a fatal accident. 
New technologies such as terminal collision avoidance (TCAS), onboard weather radar, enhanced ground proximity warning systems (EGPWS), and cargo fire-detection systems have all been developed to address dangers unseen by the flight crew that resulted in fatal accidents.

This standard will be the first to address the hidden danger of unexpectedly slippery runways and enables new aircraft braking reporting technologies already developed to be operationally deployed.

Can you provide data to support the safety, economic, or other impacts of the standard? If yes, please summarize the data and provide citations.

In the 2020 ICAO Safety Report, runway excursions were listed as one of the leading accident categories worldwide.

As of June 2022, the Flight Safety Foundation lists the total number of runway excursions as 548, with the majority being related to landings by passenger aircraft. 

The Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Runway Excursions, as validated by CANSO, EASA, IATA, and ACI, lists several recommendations to aircraft operators that address technical solutions, training, and aircraft data solutions to mitigate runway excursion risks. These recommendations are addressed by E3266.

Are you aware of any regulatory adoption (domestic or international) or broad international use of the standard? If yes, please provide details.

E3266 has been formally adopted by the Canadian Government in AC 700-060, Braking Action Reports, and will be formally adopted by the FAA in AC 91-79B, Aircraft Landing Performance and Runway Excursion Mitigation. This AC was formally submitted in March 2022 and is undergoing formal review by AFS-800.

Does this standard address any of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

This standard addresses SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: The airline industry is still challenged to recoup catastrophic losses since the pandemic. Enabling a higher degree of operational risk management will be critical to ensuring financial resilience, especially as climate change produces more severe weather and harsher runway conditions. The ability to use aircraft data to enable braking action sensing brings with it the possibility for new flight-crew alerting capabilities, new sensing technology, and enhanced communications capabilities such as the integration of electronic flight bags.

This standard addresses SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals: Aviation has always involved a large number of global partnerships. The technical working group and subsequent regulatory guidance involved a collaborative effort to include France, Canada, and the United States. Future implementation of ASTM guidance is expected to include ICAO participation as well as EASA regulatory acceptance.

As the constraints for commercial lift become tighter, so too must the ability of aircraft operators to sense, measure, define, and manage risk. This standard provides a world-leading path toward all weather runway operations with clearly defined parameters and engineering methods that connect certification standards to operational observations.

To accommodate the truly global nature of aviation, these capabilities have and will continue to foster global partnerships and collaboration in technical development and safety analysis.

Please provide any additional information not provided here.

Further information about safety management systems, safety assurance processes, human factors considerations, regulatory approval processes, and safety analysis initiatives can be found by contacting Capt. John Gadzinski, FRAeS and subcommittee on aircraft friction (E17.62), ■

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