What is Foreign Object Debris (FOD) in Aviation? Part 2

All You Want to Know About Foreign Object Debris

From the first part, we familiarized with FOD, related accidents, and the cost incurred with FOD related accidents. From the second and final part, let us have a look into the ways and means to control FOD in airfields. 

FOD Control: Removal and Detection  

There are a few implementations implemented to fight against the FOD, such as, 

  • Airport Runway Sweepers: sweeping can be performed either manually by brooms or by airside sweepers. So far, airside sweepers are the most effective way of removing FOD; they are easy to deploy in any area: runways, taxiways, apron areas, and bridge areas. Apron and bridge areas are more vulnerable to accumulate FOD as more Ground Support Equipment (GSE) are positioned. Apart from that, minor maintenance activities and aircraft servicing activities are undergoing in these areas. 
  • Magnetic Bars: A suspended magnetic bar fitted to a towing vehicle can be used to collect metallic FOD. 
  • Rumble Strips: When a vehicle is driven over a rumble strip, it can dislodge metallic FOD adhered to the vehicle undercarriage. Rumble strips are placed in transition areas from landside to airside.
  • Automatic FOD Detection Systems: Methods such as automatic FOD detection utilize state-of-the-art technologies to detect FOD automatically and to generate alerts. They have high-resolution cameras, thermal detectors, and millimeter-wave radars to detect FOD on runways and critical operating areas. Automatic FOD detection plays an imperative role in identifying FOD in low visibility conditions and deteriorating weather conditions. Automatic detection can minimize the risk of runway incursions by lowering the use of external vehicles on runways.  
  • Wildlife Management:  Measures such as mitigating wildlife attractants within the airport; installing wildlife chase away systems using audio deterrents: propane cannons, Ultra-Sonic devices; and visual deterrents: different shaped objects, laser beams can be used to mitigate wildlife-related FOD damages. 
  • Fencing: A perimeter fence to minimize the entrance of wildlife into the airport premises. Wind barriers and netting are also effective with containing airborne FOD. 
  • FOD Containers: FOD containers placed at each gate can be used to dispose of any foreign object debris. Apart from that, a waist pouch is also a good way to collect FOD on the apron and engine run-up areas. Uncontrolled FOD containers could be a FOD source of themselves. A proper analysis of collected FOD could give valuable directions on the FOD sources. 
  • Awareness Programs for the Airside Workers: All the employees attached to the airside should undergo a proper training program on FOD. Identification of FOD, proper disposal of FOD, and FOD generation mitigation are the key areas of a training program. 

Construction activities taking place within the airport can generate various types of foreign object debris. Outside contractors working on the site can be FOD themselves as they lack awareness of airside operations. Raw materials and construction equipment should be placed covered or tangled to avoid become airborne due to wind.

What Should You Do if You Find FOD?

Keeping an eye out for FOD is a responsibility of all personnel working in an airport. If you happen to find FOD, dispose it immediately and inform the relevant authorities to look further for FOD generating sources. When disposing of, make sure to dispose it correctly; incorrectly disposed FOD can create more danger.

It is quite clear that Foreign Object Debris is a key concern in aviation, and damages caused by the FOD can cost lives and millions of dollars. Even though dedicated people are assigned to fight with FOD, it is everyone’s responsibility to keep an eye on the FOD during work.

Keywords: Foreign Object Debris, Foreign Object Damage, Foreign Object Debris in Aviation, FOD, FOD in Aviation

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