FOD contributes to billions of dollars in aircraft damage every year, so FOD control is crucial. Although it is not entirely avoidable, there are ways to control it, including using the proper ground support equipment such as FOD sweepers and conducting daily inspections. Here is a more profound overview of airport FOD and how to control it.
So, what is FOD, and where does it come from? Foreign object debris (FOD) refers to any objects or debris found in the airside of the airport which can damage aircraft and personnel. The airside of the airport includes all the buildings and the areas surrounding a plane that are accessible to passengers and airport personnel. The airside is prone to lots of debris daily, including washers, nuts, rivets, bolts, screws, pavement fragments, pieces of luggage, tire rubber, rocks, etc., and it only takes one of these FODs to damage an aircraft.
Suppose the aircraft wheel runs over a sharp object on the runway and takes off. In that case, the tire continues to lose pressure while in the air, which could result in disaster when the aircraft lands. The following areas require extra attention when dealing with FOD.
- Runway FOD includes various objects in the runway that could adversely impact a fast-moving plane during take-off and landing. It includes fallen objects from aircraft and vehicles, broken ground equipment, and even birds.
- Taxiway FOD includes any small objects on the runway. Even if they seem less harmful than runway FOD, jet blasts can quickly move these small objects onto the runway.
- Maintenance FOD involves maintenance equipment used in maintaining the aircraft. It includes small to large maintenance tools. When left inappropriately, they can easily damage an aircraft leading to other disasters.
The effects of FOD at airports
- It can damage the aircraft.
- It can lodge in an aircraft mechanism and prevent some parts from functioning efficiently.
- It can pierce or cut airplane tires.
- It can injure people after being pushed by a jet blast.
- It can cause an accident during take-off or landing.
- It can damage the aircraft engine.
What contributes to airport FOD?
- There are many contributory factors for airport FOD. They include:
- Poor staff training.
- Inadequate maintenance of aircraft, equipment, and buildings in the airport.
- Extreme weather, such as windy conditions, may push FOD to the runways.
- Presence of uncontrolled cars in the airside.
- Pressure on airport staff not to delay movements for inspection; therefore, they don’t have ample time to clear FOD.
How to control FOD efficiently.
Airport FOD control is the responsibility of everyone who uses the airport. However, specific responsibilities should be allocated to trained staff, and there should be a quality assurance to ensure every team completes their assigned tasks efficiently. Some of the ways to control FOD include:
- Conducting regular inspections.
- Proper employee training.
- Employing efficient FOD maintenance systems, including sweeping (manually or automatically), FOD containers, magnetic bars, netting, and fencing.
FOD in airports can be very dangerous, which is why FOD control is critical. Training employees and choosing the right FOD control equipment can reduce FOD and consequently minimize the costs associated with repairing aircraft due to damage by FOD. Proper FOD control ensures the safety of passengers and employees.