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.)


FOD Awareness Saves Lives and Money
FOD Awareness Saves Lives and Money

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NTSB Safety Alert Control Foreign Object Debris

Account for all items after performing maintenance tasks!

The problem

  • Mechanics, or others who help with aircraft maintenance, might leave items or residual debris behind after performing maintenance tasks that could become foreign object debris (FOD). Examples of FOD include tools, hardware, eyeglasses, keys, portable electronic devices (PEDs), paint chips, and metal shavings.
  • If mechanics and others do not account for every item that they use in or around an aircraft and clean as they go, this FOD can be ingested into the engine or interfere with critical flight systems, leading to an accident.

Related accidents

Since 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has investigated accidents involving FOD that was left behind after maintenance:

    • A Kitfox Series 5 airplane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean and sank after the pilot reported that the elevator control “bound up” during flight and that he could not regain elevator control. The seat pan panel and the dust boot at the base of the pilot’s side control stick were removed, and examination revealed a common hardware clamp and a leather work glove beneath the boot and between the tube seat structure and the control column bearing. This FOD impinged the elevator control, leading to the loss of control. (ERA12LA307)
    • A True Flight Aerospace (formerly Grumman American) AA-5B airplane lost engine power during cruise flight and crashed during a forced landing. Examination of the engine revealed that the fuel filter contained considerable debris that resembled paint chips. The pilot said that the airplane had recently been painted. The engine lost power because FOD obstructed the fuel filter, which lead to fuel starvation (CEN11LA084)
    • An Airbus (formerly Eurocopter) AS350 B3 helicopter was damaged during a post maintenance check flight. As the main rotor speed reached 100%, the pilot and the two mechanics heard a “bang.” After the helicopter landed, the mechanics discovered that they were missing the adjustable wrench that had been used on the top of the main rotor head. One main rotor blade, the tail boom, and the lower vertical stabilizer were damaged from the wrench. The mechanics did not account for all their tools after the maintenance procedure. (WPR10CA164)

    What can you do?

    • Perform an inventory of tools, personal items, AND personal protective equipment before working on an aircraft. Take only what is necessary for the specific maintenance task. Consider placing nonessential personal items, such as jewelry, coins, keys, and PEDs, in a secure location instead of keeping them with you during maintenance tasks.
    • Prepare the work space on the aircraft by covering up engines, pitot static ports, air inlets, and other areas with protective materials to reduce the likelihood of FOD migration (including residual debris, such as paint chips or metal shavings) to critical flight systems.
    • While working in low visibility areas (ramp/hangar), ensure that proper lighting is used to check for FOD left behind during maintenance.
    • Keep hardware and consumables in appropriate containers to prevent them from becoming FOD. Store tools in tool boxes and bags, and organize them in a manner so that you can easily recognize if one or more is missing.
    • Distractions can cause you to forget things during maintenance tasks. Always follow the maintenance manual/task card and use a checklist. If you get distracted, go back three steps when restarting your work.
    • As you perform the maintenance task, clean as you go to reduce the likelihood of leaving any items. Keep a FOD container next to you during the maintenance task for easy FOD disposal.
    • Perform a second inventory of tools, any essential personal items, AND personal protective equipment (such as safety glasses, gloves, and hearing protection) after you have completed the maintenance task to ensure that items have not been left behind. Remove any aircraft protective materials so that they do not become FOD.
    • Ask another mechanic to visually inspect your work area for any items that may become FOD. A second set of eyes may see something that you missed.
    • Recognize that human factors issues such as complacency, fatigue, pressure, stress, and a lack of situation awareness can contribute to FOD.
    • Consider conducting daily FOD walks in areas such as hangars, ramps, and runways to identify and remove FOD.

      post courtesy of https://www.ntsb.gov/  Original Post 2016

     

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