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Runway safety improvements under way at SFO (pictures)

Two of four runways will close as part of federally mandated improvements. CNET takes a look at the technology and gets a tour of SFO's runways.

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James Martin, Kent German
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1 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Now arriving

Two commercial passenger jets prepare to land on parallel runways 28L and 28R at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday, March 20, 2014.

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2 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Under construction

Construction work has already begun on the Runway Safety Area (RSA) at one end of Runway 1 Left, though the heavy work will begin when the runways are closed in May.

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3 of 21 Kent German/CNET

Lining up

An aircraft lines up for departure on 1 Right, which will also close until September. In the background is SFO's new control tower.

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4 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Close to your car

Here you can see just how close the affected runways are to the 101 freeway that borders the airport.

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5 of 21 San Francisco International Airport

Airport overview

A map of of SFO showing runway locations and the new taxiways. The new EMAS materials will be installed in the green areas.

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6 of 21 Key West International Airport

For your safety

The EMAS technology works like a runaway-truck ramp for airplanes, collapsing to assist in the slowing of planes that might overshoot the runway.

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7 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Engineered Material Arresting System

The EMAS material that will be installed collapses on impact, slowing a plane that has gone off the runway.

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8 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Installation areas

The EMAS tiles will line the beginning and end of Runways 1 Left and 1 Right. Here you can see where they will be installed next to San Francisco Bay.

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9 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Arriving from Amsterdam

Across the field, a KLM MD-11 arrives from Amsterdam.

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10 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Stop!

As we toured the airport's perimeter, signs like this one warned us when we were about to cross a runway's end.

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Air China Boeing 777

An Air China Boeing 777 passes over the Runway Safety Area at the end of Runway 28 Right just before touchdown. The installation of these RSAs was completed last year.

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12 of 21 Kent German/CNET

Side by side

As an ANA Boeing 777 awaits takeoff clearance on 28 Left, a small private plane arrives on 28 Right. The construction closure means that all departing and arriving traffic will be restricted to these two runways. Close operation like this, however, will be permitted only in good weather.

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13 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Jet blast warning

Mind the jet blast.

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Heading for Portland

A Portland, Ore.-bound Alaska Airlines Bombardier Q400.

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15 of 21 Kent German/CNET

On its way

Virgin America maintains its hub at SFO.

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AA retrojet

American Airlines' retrojet pays a visit to SFO.

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17 of 21 James Martin/CNET

United Express Embrarer 120 Brasilia

A United Express Embrarer 120 Brasilia climbs out on a short-haul flight.

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18 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Boeing 777

A Boeing 777 taxis for departure to Korea.

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19 of 21 James Martin/CNET

Looming large

The 777 is one of the largest aircraft to operate at SFO.

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20 of 21 Kent German/CNET

New in town

Qatar Airways doesn't serve SFO, but one of its Airbus A340s was parked in a remote area.

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21 of 21 Kent German/CNET

Dreamliner

A United Boeing 787 Dreamliner parked at its gate at SFO's International Terminal.

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