People can save aircraft, lives by picking up FOD

Master Sgt. John Smith
86th Airlift Wing Safety Office

***image1***FOD – three letters that spell a lot of trouble.
What is FOD? It is Foreign Object Damage caused to an aircraft engine by a foreign object, and it contributes to dozens of aircraft mishaps annually.
Foreign objects that could potentially cause damage can be anything ranging from a piece of paper to a small rock. A foreign object in a critical area can cause aircraft damage or cause it to crash. Foreign objects are one of the most abundant hazards out on the flightline and can come from anywhere – a forgotten tool or rag, trash blowing across the flightline, rocks and dirt blown onto a taxiway by another aircraft.
Worldwide, FOD costs the aviation industry more than $4 billion annually, said Capt. Scott Kadar, 86th Airlift Wing chief of flight safety.
“Foreign objects and debris like rocks, nails, screws, tools and trash can find their way into the strangest places and do considerable damage to an aircraft,” Captain Kadar said. “Damage to aircraft caused by FOD ingestion can be very expensive and could possibly cost lives. We must do all we can to prevent and control it.”
So how is FOD controlled? There are several ways to control FOD, including walks that are performed by maintenance weekly, and tool and rag accountability. Each time a job is completed, aircraft maintainers must inventory toolboxes and rags to ensure they are accounted for and turned back in, and also check their work area for FOD.
People don’t have to work on the flightline to assist the fight against FOD. It’s as easy as picking up a piece of trash on the street so that it doesn’t find its way into the flightline area.
“The Project SMART theme for March is Fly SMART. Wing safety placed extra emphasis on FOD, since it’s an aspect of safe flying operations that a broad spectrum of people can affect,” said Lt. Col. Vincent Jovene Jr., 86th AW chief of safety.
People who drive in flightline areas can also help. According to Ramstein Instruction 13-201, “A FOD check is required anytime you enter the ramp area or a taxiway.” Drivers must do a proper FOD check when they reach one of the checkpoints. Drivers should first turn the vehicle engine off, get out and take a look at the tires for any rocks stuck in the treads, or any other foreign objects that are stuck to the tires. People should remove any foreign objects and dispose of them in a FOD can or throw them away at their earliest convenience.
The 86th AW Safety Office spent an hour at the airfield monitoring the FOD check areas on the crash access road recently. After observing vehicles in that area, they found that 19 percent failed to perform a FOD check. FOD prevention is everybody’s responsibility, and a simple two-minute FOD check could make the difference in saving money, aircraft – and ultimately lives.
“People can do their part by picking up trash around the base so it doesn’t end up blowing out on the flightline. People should also check their vehicles at FOD checkpoints,” Lieutenant Colonel Jovene said. “We cannot accept the risk of roughly 19 percent of vehicles that do not stop and conduct these checks.”