The Dangers of Foreign Object Debris

Every single day, millions of people fly on an airplane. But have you ever thought about the dangers involved at the airport? Yeah, it’s obvious to think of the plane crashing or something going wrong onboard, but have you ever thought about what other factors can be dangerous? As defined by the Federal Aviation Administration, any object that’s located in the wrong area of an airport environment that can actually damage an aircraft or injure someone is called Foreign Object Debris (FOD). In this post, we’ll go into more depth about FOD and explain how airport sweepers and other solutions can help.

As mentioned earlier, Foreign Objects Debris involves objects that shouldn’t be in an airport environment. These objects can be extremely dangerous to both you and the aircraft your life depends on. Keep reading to learn more about some common examples of Foreign Object Debris and what solutions are available.


It’s important to note that Foreign Objects Debris can either be internal or external. However, both can be very dangerous and lead to many issues with an aircraft, maybe even resulting in death. Take a look at some examples of FOD below:

Items in Cockpit

A common example of internal FOD involves items that become loose inside the cockpit. Tools or any other items can jam certain controls and might restrict proper operation. Items can also get tangled in control cables and might even short out electrical connections.

Hail and Ice

One of the more common types of FOD, ice and hail can come out of nowhere and cause many headaches for pilots and aircraft personnel. As you know just how unpredictable weather can be, hail can come out of nowhere with not much warning at all. Hail, if large enough, can break windshields, get caught up in engines, and might even cause engines to malfunction or break altogether. Ice is another issue that can be damaging to the propellers, wings, and engine intakes.

Parts, Rocks, and Broken Pavement

With thousands of planes and ground equipment working on airport runways constantly, it’s evident that parts will break off, become loose, and find their way onto the ground. In addition, the pavement too will see wear and tear over time, causing broken pieces. This debris can get tossed into the air and might damage the plane, or it might get run over by the tires of an aircraft. This can cause broken windshields, flat tires, or might even cause issues with the plane’s engines.

No matter what foreign object debris you’re dealing with, limiting this debris is best practice for keeping everyone and everything safe. Debris detection devices and airport sweepers are used to offer solutions, and there are other services in the works to help this important issue.


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