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Airports – Dealing with FOD

Published: August 1995

The Dreaded Menace to Jet Aircraft

As PT Jones, Senior Director of Maintenance Operation, surveys the runways and flight lines around Elsinore Airframe Services, Inc., there is a definite seriousness in his voice as he talks about foreign object damage (FOD) and the aircraft that frequent the Waco, Texas, maintenance and modification center.

Jones is referring to foreign object damage to aircraft jet engines. “Jet engines can be severely damaged by even very small objects sucked in by the high volume of air going through the engines during takeoffs, landings, and taxiing. The cost of foreign object damage to a jet engine can be significant, but more importantly, there is the human safety factor. Keeping runways and flight lines free of foreign objects such as small nuts and bolts, and similar items isn’t easy.”

To efficiently and economically stay on top of runway and flight line cleanliness, Elsinore recently purchased an HSP Runway Sweeper designed and manufactured by TYMCO. Powered by a John Deere 4045D engine, the HSP Runway Sweeper is the latest innovation from the world’s premiere producer of Regenerative Air Sweepers. “Our customers demand performance and dependability from our sweepers; we demand the same from the engines that power the units,” says Kenneth Shier, head of military sales and service for TYMCO. “The 276-cu.-in., 80-hp John Deere diesel engine does an excellent job of providing the power and dependability we need for our 350, 600 and HSP Series Sweepers.”

The TYMCO Regenerative Air Sweepers are as equally at home on city streets, parking lots, and other areas as they are on runways and flight lines. TYMCO sweepers are unique in their use of a continuous blast of air, rather than main brooms, to loosen dirt and debris and move it to the unit’s suction inlet. The U.S. Air Force, like Elsinore Airframe Services, has found the Regenerative Air Sweeper concept very effective. “TYMCO sweepers are now on U.S. Air Force bases throughout the world, and recently the U.S. Marine Corps began placing orders for the sweepers,” says Shier.

Ridding acres of runways and flight lines of foreign objects is a formidable task. “If we didn’t have an acceptable method of sweeping, like the TYMCO sweeper, we’d be forced to shut down our operation for hours and ‘walk’ the area,” notes Jones. “Obviously the latter solution is not acceptable for any number of reasons. The power of the TYMCO sweeper with its John Deere engine lets us do an excellent job of cleaning runways and hangar areas — right down to the joints and tie-downs.”

From Jones’ perspective, the TYMCO sweeper and John Deere 4045D engine complement each other very well. “Both feature good, solid construction, easy access and maintenance, and plenty of adjustment capability,” he says. When it comes to getting the upper hand on FOD, Jones and his staff look for one thing from their sweeping equipment — unquestioned performance. And they get it.