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Rocks, paper, scissors: FOD

By Airman 1st Class Caitlin Russell | 673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Nov. 9, 2018

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson has several programs in place to ensure foreign objects debris are something in people’s heads and not in the engines.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, FOD creates safety hazards and can impact safe operations by damaging aircraft. The main purpose of conducting a FOD walk is to help prevent damage to aircraft and maintain safety and mission readiness.
FOD refers to the objects of debris that if left on an airfield could be sucked into a jet engine and damage aircraft.
The causes of FOD are due to poor awareness of the actual hazard, failure to do rollover FOD checks at entry control points leading onto the airfield, breaking and chipping of pavements, mowers on the infield and leaving tools on the ground after working on equipment.
Performing a tire rollover FOD check only a few minutes, but can prevent catastrophic damage.
To properly perform a vehicle FOD check, personnel must stop at the designated FOD check point, and exit their vehicle. Personnel must walk around the vehicle inspecting the tires and entire vehicle for debris. After the first inspection, drivers should move the vehicle forward approximately one foot. Finally, personnel will re-inspect the vehicle and tires before proceeding onto the airfield.
In addition to vehicle FOD check points, FOD walks are required to be performed before the beginning of the day's flying operations.
Weather can also produce FOD — hail, winds blowing debris around the airfield, and lightning striking the pavement are all examples of weather induced FOD.
Operations in the winter don’t change, however Airmen are limited to the tools available to pick up debris.
“During the winter, Airmen aren’t able to use tools such as a FOD boss or magnetic sweepers, so they are depending mostly on picking it up by hand or by snow plows,” James said.
The FOD boss is a towable friction mat that can sweep and clear ramps and runways of debris as small as a pebble. Magnetic sweepers are used to remove nails, screws, bolts and other metal objects.
Although the Airmen use fewer tools, James said the importance of prevention stays the same. Understanding the importance of prevention and knowing how to eliminate the threat can prevent a major mishap or loss of life.
By following the proper procedures everyone can help the Air Force focus its manpower and money on the mission.
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