Foreign object debris (FOD) comprises objects, particles or substances unintentionally left in airport areas. Debris can include anything from tools and loose hardware to pens, badges, baggage tags and beverage containers.
Pictured here is debris collected from a FOD walk—crew removing debris from the tarmac before takeoff—at Kadena Air Base in Japan.
One of the worst FOD-related accidents happened in 2000, when a small piece of metal on the runway at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport ruptured the fuel tank of the Aerospatiale-BAC Concorde operating as Air France Flight 4590, causing a fatal crash.
According to fodprevention.com, FOD can cost the aerospace industry up to $12 billion per year. The direct cost for damaged parts adds up to $4 billion. Indirect costs include flight delays, fuel expenses and damages awarded to injured or deceased workers, pilots and passengers.
The FAA created a FOD reporting system, enabling single/multiple and bulk collection FOD incidents to be reported online at anytime. The tool is intended to raise awareness about FOD events and potentially isolate problem areas in U.S. airports.
The FAA also provides published papers, technical notes and additional programs to address FOD.
Here are a few tools intended to decrease FOD. One is safety cable, developed by Bergen Cable Technology as an alternative to traditional lockwire. Essentially, operators install the cable through fasteners, insert a loose ferrule on the cable and string the cable through a specific Bergen tool, which crimps the ferrule and cuts the cable in one motion.
Ultimately, two pieces of scrap are created instead of multiple pieces. This reduces the potential of debris and therefore the possibility of damage.
Companies that have OEM and MRO provider approvals for the system include Air Canada, Air France, Lockheed Martin, GE Aircraft Engines, Pratt & Whitney and American Airlines.
To reach into small or tight spaces, the Terminator Tool is a smaller alternative to use with Bergen's safety cable system. Cable diameters range from 0.02 to 0.032 in. and 3-7-in. nose lengths.
Joe Ciancimino, outside sales and marketing manager for Bergen Cable Technology, says this type of cable technology hasn't completely replaced traditional lockwire systems primarily because some mechanics have an emotional attachment to the original way of completing a task. However, he says: "Once those mechanics get their hands on it, use the tool and see how the system works, most of them tend to like it."
The F.O.D. Control Corp.'s FOD-Razor measures 8 ft. for a single assembly, 16 ft. for duplex assembly and 23 ft. for triplex assembly. The system also meets the equipment specifications for friction mat airport runway sweepers by FAA Advisory Circular 150/5210-24.
When towed along the tarmac or any surface, bristles latch onto debris, which is then forced back into plastic scoops. It captures up to 98% of unwanted debris in one pass and is most efficient at picking up sand, safety wire, hand tools and pavement chunks.
This kit from The F.O.D. Control Corp. converts an existing 55-gal. drum to a gasketed and vented self-closing mechanism and complies with National Emissions Standards for Aerospace Manufacturing.
Fitting over the top of the drum, the kit prevents oxygen from entering and traps vapors already inside.