Airfield management: More than FOD
Staff Sgt. Sara Piper, 56th Operations Support Squadron Air Field Management Operations, checks for foreign object debris on the Luke Air Force Base flightline to prevent damage to aircraft. The unit conducts FOD checks every morning around 5:45 a.m. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Sandra Welch)
FOE Foreign Object Elimination
Airmen from the 425th Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base prepare F-16 Fighting Falcons to participate in Maple Flag 42 at Cold Lake, Canada. (Photo courtesy of Neil Pearson, www.imageaviation.com)
Foreign Object Debris
Team Moody Airmen grab debris off of the flight line during a foreign object debris (FOD) walk, Jan. 2, 2018, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The FOD walk was performed following the winter holidays to remove any debris that could potentially cause damage to aircraft or vehicles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Eugene Oliver)
Foreign Object Debris (FOD) is the stuff you see lying on the pavement of a road or a parking lot that most folks would never really pay much attention to. It’s the rocks, roots, sticks and leaves that are part of our everyday lives. FOD poses few problems on the roads and highways, and we’ve all had flat tires from punctures and cracked or chipped windshields from rocks tossed up by the car or truck ahead. While frustrating to pull over to change a tire or call to have a windshield changed, FOD can have a devastating impact on on aircraft of any size.
FOD is estimated to cost the aerospace industry $12 billion per year. $4 billion is the direct cost for damaged parts; however, another $8 billion is consumed in indirect costs such as delays, plane changes, fuel costs, significant damage to aircraft and parts and death and injury to workers, pilots and passengers. (Source: The Economic Cost of FOD to Airlines, Insight SRI Ltd., UK 2008.)
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Lost Tool FODs Propeller Blade, Penetrating Turboprop’s Fuselage (SA226 N158WA)
On 20 March 2017, during a pre-dawn take off for a single pilot positioning flight from Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field (BOI), Idaho, Western Airlines Swearingen SA226TC Metro II N158WA suffered substantial foreign object damage due to a forgotten tool.
According to the safety investigation report from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):
…the pilot reported that prior to departing on the repositioning flight, he reviewed the maintenance data [sic] and found everything to be up to date. The subsequent preflight inspections, inclusive of the interior and exterior of the airplane revealed no anomalies.
The pilot stated that at 0400 he called BOI ground control, obtained taxi clearance, and taxied to runway 10L where he began the takeoff roll. The pilot reported that everything was normal, rotated at 105 knots; shortly thereafter he heard a “pop”, followed by a vibration. Thinking that he had a blown tire, he waited a few seconds to see if the frequency of the vibration would change as the tire rotation slowed. However, the vibration remained the same, which led him to think that there might be an issue with the propeller. The pilot radioed the BOI tower controller, advised him of his intension to return to the airport… The pilot stated that on the downwind leg he thought there might be a problem with a propeller.
The pilot then landed uneventfully, taxied to parking, and shut the right engine down first. The pilot then shut the left engine down. During the last few rotations of the propeller he observed the spinner wobble slightly; he then noticed that the tip of one of the blades was missing.
About four inches (100 mm) of one blade was missing and there were three holes in the fuselage.
Airport operations personnel recovered another piece of propeller blade debris from the runway and “what appeared to be the blade of a screwdriver and two pieces of a screwdriver handle”.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector reported to the NTSB that maintenance had been performed on the aircraft prior to that flight, and…
…the mechanic was called away from the task he was performing prior to it being completed. The inspector stated that a screwdriver was left on the nose of the airplane under the windshield wiper and out of sight of the pilot.
Subsequently, on takeoff roll the screwdriver became dislodged and impacted the left propeller.
Disappointingly, the NTSB investigation reveals no further information on the circumstances of this uncompleted maintenance or the tool control procedures that were in use.
Forgotten Tools Equal FOD Accidents, SA226 N158WA Click To Tweet