Understanding Foreign Object Debris

What is foreign object debris?

 Foreign object debris (FOD) comprises small debris, animals, objects or even human beings that may be in an unwanted area in an airport. Airport authorities and airlines worldwide have consistently incurred billions worth of losses related to FOD annually.

 Of what harm are is foreign object debris?

 The aviation industry lays a lot of emphasis on FOD check because of the potential harm they can cause. There are dozens of accidents that have been influenced to some extent or entirely by FOD. The debris could also cause malfunctioning of critical aviation equipment. The cargo carried in some aircraft could also be damaged as a result of an airplane running into debris or lose objects. In the manufacturing sections of airports, they could result in the contamination of the products as well as compromising the quality standards and provisions. They may cause bodily harm and injury to the staff and workers onsite.

 What are the examples of foreign object debris?

Some of the most common examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Construction tools and materials
  • Birds and wildlife
  • Broken tile and pavement sections
  • Trash and food remains
  • Loose vegetation and rocks
  • Pieces of luggage
  • Humans

 What are the significant factors contributing to the presence of FOD?

Several factors may contribute to the presence or absence of these objects in the airport, for instance;

  • Substandard maintenance of the airport equipment and buildings
  • Severe weather conditions such as strong winds may blow FOD into an airfield. The adverse weather conditions may also hinder efforts to remove or site some FOD
  • Hurried FOD checks due to running late or performance pressure in case of emergency situations
  • Insufficient or poor staff training standards

What precautions can be taken?

Most airports have precautions put in place to minimize debris related incidents and accidents. Some of the most fundamental provisions include:

Frequent and thorough FOD checks and inspections. The runway and other aircraft movement areas and open spaces around those areas should be of central focus.

Regular inspection of the buildings inside and neighboring the airfield. Service of items that are likely to lead to accumulation of FOD in the airport should be stopped upon notice.

Termination of all runways activities in the particular airfield immediately the airport staff notice even minimal FOD in the runway. A full fledge inspection should be done to ensure there are no more objects before the resumption of the normal operation of the aircraft.

The aviation industry is one that requires a high level of responsibility and precaution since a slight hitch may lead to loss of billions of dollars in minutes and can endanger the lives of passengers and staff.