Check tires at FOD checkpoints

Emily Reagan
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Ramstein drivers are reminded to check their tires when crossing the Taxiway Alpha on northbound Mitchell Avenue in front of the air traffic control tower.

Foreign object damage check points are normally posted at all areas where vehicles enter an airfield. The words “Check for FOD” are painted on the road adjacent to the stop sign. All drivers must physically inspect each tire and remove rocks and gravel from the tread before proceeding onto the airfield.

“It is also important to remove or secure any items that could fall from the vehicle, like items in truck beds,” said Master Sgt. Jason Schaefer, 86th Airlift Wing FOD manager. “Airfields must remain free of rocks, debris and any items that could be ingested into and destroy aircraft engines.”

Although most FOD check points are isolated to government vehicles, the northbound Mitchell Avenue check point is located on a public access road, which requires the Ramstein public to take on the responsibility. Southbound traffic does not have a check point because sweeper trucks keep the roads clean and there are no dirt access roads.

“FOD prevention is a constant battle in the aviation world,” said Sergeant Schaefer. “With Ramstein’s increased level of construction, keeping the airfield free of stones and gravel is more challenging then ever.”

One of the most essential and effective tools in combating airfield debris is the FOD check point, he said. In three years, FOD incidents cost the Air Force more than $163 million, and in the past two years they cost U.S. Air Forces Europe more than $335,000.

“This is money that could have been used to improve the quality of life for our servicemembers or increase the operational capability of the U.S. military,” said Senior Master Sgt. William McWhirt, 86th Maintenance Group

Quality Assurance superintendent. “Instead, the money was spent repairing damage to aircraft and equipment, which in most cases was completely avoidable. A FOD check is vital to the safety of our aircraft.”

Airfield Management and 86th MXG Quality Assurance will ensure vehicle operators are performing the checks. Violators will be reported to their unit’s supervisior, and penalties range from administrative action to loss of driving privileges.

“The two minutes you save by failing to FOD check the vehicle is not worth a citation, but more importantly, it is not worth damaging an aircraft or putting our flight crews in harms way,” said Sergeant McWhirt.