Runway Safety Area (RSA)

A defined surface surrounding the runway prepared, or suitable, for reducing the risk of damage to airplanes in the event of an undershoot, overshoot, or excursion from the runway. The dimensions of the RSA vary and can be determined by using the criteria contained within AC 150/5300-13, Airport Design, Chapter 3. Figure 3-1 in AC 150/5300-13 depicts the RSA. The design standards dictate that the RSA shall be:
  1. Cleared, graded, and have no potentially hazardous ruts, humps, depressions, or other surface variations;
  2. Drained by grading or storm sewers to prevent water accumulation;
  3. Capable, under dry conditions, of supporting snow removal equipment, aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, and the occasional passage of aircraft without causing structural damage to the aircraft; and,
  4. Free of objects, except for objects that need to be located in the runway safety area because of their function. These objects shall be constructed on low impact resistant supports (frangible mounted structures) to the lowest practical height with the frangible point no higher than 3 inches above grade.

Source: Pilot Contoller Glossary (PCG)


  • AC 150/5300-13, Airport Design, Chapter 3