Foreign object debris (FOD) is a major concern at every single airport in the United States. FOD can lead to damage, which can cost airports, airport tenants, and airlines millions of dollars annually. FOD refers to any object that should not be in or near an airplane. In many cases, such debris can damage airplanes and injure airline or airport personnel. Therefore, airports and airlines make it a priority to inspect facilities, do maintenance, and train employees to minimize FOD as well as its effects. Here is some information about foreign object debris and the importance of FOD removal.

More About FOD

Any object that is discovered in an inappropriate area is considered a FOD. In some cases, an object is a FOD simply due to being in a certain location. As stated above, FOD can damage airplanes and other equipment as well as injure airport and airplane personnel. This damages costs the aerospace industry about $4 billion annually. Airports should focus on the removal of FOD to limit or eliminate this cost. Some examples of FOD include catering supplies, loose hardware, pieces of luggage, pavement fragments, wildlife, rocks, building materials, sand, and more. FOD can be found on runways, terminal gates, run-up pads, taxiways, and cargo aprons.

FOD can cause damage via direct contact with equipment like airplanes. For example, FOD can cut up the tires of airplanes. The engines may ingest FOD. The jet blast can throw FOD and injure people and damage airplanes.

Methods of FOD Removal

Some of the methods that airports and airlines use to control and remove FOD include the following:

  • Sweeping – Sweeping can be performed manually or with an airfield sweeper. In general, the airfield sweeper is considered the best equipment for removing FOD from the airsides. The airfield sweeper can remove debris from pavement joints and cracks. This sweeper should be used in all areas. The only exception is areas that can be reached with a broom.
  • Magnetic bars – Magnetic bars can be installed beneath trucks and tugs to remove metallic material. These bars need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Otherwise, the metallic bars will drop all the collected FOD. Vehicles that work on the airside need to be periodically inspected to make sure there are no loose items susceptible to falling off.
  • FOD containers – FOD containers should be located near all gates to collect debris. It is essential that empty the containers frequently to avoid overflowing. An overflowing container can become a source of FOD in an airport.

Undoubtedly, removal of FOD is essential for all airports and airlines. Otherwise, FOD can cause expensive damage to equipment like airplanes or even injure airport and airline employees. Therefore, all airlines and airports should carefully research their options when it comes to FOD removal.


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