From private airports and heliports to the busiest international airports, it is very important for the airport runways, ramps, aprons and taxiways to remain clean and clear of any debris that could potentially be classified as Foreign Object Debris (FOD).
According to National Aerospace FOD Prevention, FOD is a substance, debris or article alien to a vehicle or system that has potential to cause damage.1 This means that FOD could potentially be any material and any size, sometimes smaller than what can be seen by just glancing out over an open airfield. Because of the potential of Foreign Object Damage (FOD), most airports conduct routine FOD checks where airport personnel will drive back and forth over the runways and taxiways looking for FOD. Many airports have personnel dedicated to operating sweepers on the airfield to sweep all debris while they perform their routine checks for larger FOD.
FOD costs the aerospace industry $1.1-$2 billion USD per year in direct costs, and as much as ten times that amount in indirect costs from delays, aircraft changes, incurred fuel costs and unscheduled maintenance for a total of $12 billion USD per year.2 Considering the high cost of damage that can be done by FOD that might not be any bigger than a piece of safety wire, not to mention any potential injuries from FOD, airport administration should seriously consider implementing routine sweeping as a Best Management Practice (BMP) to reduce FOD at their airfields.
- National Aerospace Standard (NAS) 412, maintained by National Aerospace FOD Prevention, Inc.
- “The Economic Cost of FOD”. Insight SRI Ltd. Retrieved 2009-12-09.