The presence of foreign object debris (FOD) near aircraft poses a number of risks. So careful mitigation of FOD is crucial to safe aircraft movements.
Among other inspection advice, the FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC) No: 150/5200-18D - Airport Safety Self-Inspection, addresses the importance of checking for FOD. Specifically, the AC states an “inspector must continuously check for and remove any debris in movement areas, non-movement areas, aircraft parking areas, and loading ramps.”
Specialized equipment is utilized at airports to remove FOD from paved surfaces an airport.
Additionally, a FOD walk is an effective way to ensure foreign materials are cleaned. During a FOD walk exercise people walk side-by-side to perform a sweep of an area and remove any objects found.
According to The FOD Control Corporation, FOD walks are an important practice because it provides an opportunity for objects to be removed, and serves as an educational experience for those unaware of the dangers posed by FOD.
“The purpose of a FOD walk is two-fold. First, it is clearly an exercise to collect FOD materials that have accumulated. Second, and equally importantly, it is an effort to raise awareness amongst the participants of the kinds of FOD that can accumulate and the challenge of staying on top of FOD prevention,” company officials note.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) offers suggestions for aircraft maintenance personnel to reduce the likelihood of FOD.
This procedure includes performing an inventory of tools and other items before and after performing maintenance tasks; preparing the workspace with protective materials to mitigate FOD migration; and keep tools and other work material in proper storage containers to prevent them from being left behind. The NTSB also recommends maintenance personnel clean as they perform the task so it is less likely for FOD to be left behind.
Proper working conditions are also important to ensure FOD mitigation procedures are followed. The NTSB recommends utilizing proper lighting in low-visibility settings and following task cards and checklists to verify work is performed.
“Recognize that human factors issues such as complacency, fatigue, pressure, stress and a lack of situation awareness can contribute to FOD,” NTSB officials say, advising that another team member be asked to double-check a work area for any FOD that may have been missed.
Additional details about FOD procedures can be found in the FAA’s AC 150/4210-24 – Airport Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Management.