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17 tronically complete a daily self-inspection checklist or a FOD in place, whereas only one-third of GA airports have such a reporting form, typically while still in the vehicle. By syncing program. FOD management programs are typically formal it with the airport's inspection database records are easily programs with an emphasis on inspection, detection, removal, maintained and trend analysis is easily performed. documentation, and promotion and awareness. Even so, of the 35% of participating airports that do not currently have a FOD management program in place, only 12% have plans Technology-assisted Manual to implement such a management program during the next 12 months. The final step on the continuum involves use of a GPS/ GIS-based inspection and database application. This technol- ogy provides the user with the ability to pinpoint the exact Methods in Use coordinates of FOD as well as other airfield discrepancies using GPS coordinates, allowing maintenance personnel, for When queried about the inspection methods an airport cur- example, to quickly locate discrepancies that were discov- rently uses, not one airport answered that they do not inspect ered by operations personnel, rather than relying on a written for FOD. Thus, all participating airports inspect for FOD using description of where a discrepancy is located. Prior to this one or more methods. As can be seen in Table 1, on a daily technology, for example, edge lights along a runway were basis, the majority of participating airports utilize a visual numbered and if a light needed attention the light number was inspection process, not including FOD walks. This typically forwarded to maintenance for resolution. Many of the GPS/ involves an airport employee (generally from either the oper- GIS-based platforms overlay the exact location of an item ations or maintenance department) driving a vehicle down needing attention onto a graphic of the airfield, simplifying taxiways and runways during a daily airfield inspection, all the subsequent location of identified items. the while keeping an eye out for debris. On a daily basis, it appears that 26% of participants also use FOD walks to some degree along with their visual inspection method. CURRENT AIRPORT INSPECTION PRACTICES FOD walks appear to be used by an additional 18% on a Degree of Problem weekly basis, an additional 12% use them on a monthly basis, and a further 6% use FOD walks annually. Based on Of the airports participating in this synthesis, only 18% survey responses, a daily FOD walk may only include a believed that FOD was not a problem at their airfield. This ramp area, whereas monthly or annual FOD walks may minority was overshadowed by the 56% who stated that involve closing a runway. Combined these responses sug- FOD is somewhat a problem, 24% that FOD is a moderate gest that 62% of participating airports utilize FOD walks on problem, and 2% who noted that FOD is a severe problem at least an annual basis. at their airfield. By inferring these results to airports nation- wide, one can conclude that FOD is clearly a problem of Although not a new concept, FOD walks are becoming a some degree at airports nationwide. more common method of thoroughly inspecting pavement for debris at airports. With a foundation in the military, FOD walks have been relied on for decades on U.S. aircraft carriers Use of Foreign Object Debris Management Program to ensure that a flight deck is free of foreign objects. Indeed, the decks of U.S. aircraft carriers are walked by personnel at Sixty-five percent of the airports participating in this synthesis least twice daily (McCreary 2010). Although these walks may currently have a FOD management program in place. Among require closure of pavement, they allow an airport to utilize the the large hub airports, 75% have a FOD management program assistance of numerous airport employees to thoroughly scan TABLE 1 FOD INSPECTION METHODS Method Daily Weekly Monthly Annually Human/Visual (not including FOD walks) 89% 6% 0% 0% Human/Visual (including FOD walks) 26% 18% 12% 6% Continuous Surveillance Using 6% 0% 0% 0% Technology/Equipment Periodic Surveillance Using 4% 4% 0% 0% Technology/Equipment Our Airport Does Not Inspect for FOD 0% 0% 0% 0% Note: Participants were asked to select all that apply. Thus, percentages may not equal 100% across categories of methods or frequency of inspection.
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18 an entire length of pavement (typically a runway) for any weekly basis). An in-depth discussion of these various systems foreign objects in a relaxed setting (i.e., with no aircraft on is presented in chapter three. final approach). A FOD walk is a good way to estimate what has been missed during FOD inspections. Although an When asked about the frequency of runway closures for airport may hold a FOD walk only once each year, these non-routine FOD inspection or removal, more than half of events can create an esprit de corps among participants. respondents (52%) indicated they did not close runways for FOD walks, and their use in promotion, are discussed in non-routine FOD inspection removal. This finding supports detail in chapter seven. the need for the 2009 Cert Alert (09-06) that was issued to airports advocating the closure of runways, if necessary, to prevent operations until debris are removed. The findings At Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, FOD walks are con- indicated, however, that almost 30% are forced to close a ducted every Tuesday and Thursday. With several multi- runway one or more times each month. billion dollar aircraft operating from Whiteman Air Force Base, including 20 B-2 Stealth Bombers, FOD walks are seen as integral to ensuring flight safety. Because of around-the- Although almost one-third of participating airports indi- clock operations, crew chiefs, maintainers, and other person- cated they are forced to close a runway once or more per nel working on the Whiteman flightline all assume responsi- month as a result of FOD, airports are typically hesitant to bility for eliminating FOD to keep aircraft and personnel safe. close runways (even for a short time) for this purpose. "FOD is and will always be a dilemma, but it is absolutely one Even though a closure for FOD would often be in the best that we keep to a minimum by performing these walks and interest of safety, ATC and the airlines may not support ensuring we collect even the smallest bits of FOD," explains closures of active runways, especially with no advance Technical Sergeant Kenneth Prenger, 131st Bomb Wing crew notice. For this reason, in 2009, the FAA issued a Cert chief. Whiteman has discovered that even sweeper trucks may Alert (No. 09-06) indicating that the FAA's Office of miss some debris; therefore, Airmen and civilian personnel Safety and Standards had been made aware of "instances working on the flightline participate in regular FOD walks by where some airports have failed to take immediate and lining up side-by-side and walking across the aircraft ramp. positive action following a report of FOD (on or near the According to Whiteman statistics, 363.1 pounds of FOD was runway) from flight crews" (FAA 2009b, paragraph 2). As collected at the end of the first quarter of 2010. "FOD a result, the Cert Alert reminds airport operators to develop prevention is everyone's responsibility," Sergeant Kelly procedures for "affecting immediate runway closures in the explains. "We are all one team. If anyone sees FOD, it's presence of certain types of FOD, such as large pieces of their job to ensure it gets picked up". metal, large aggregate, large concrete spalling pieces, and any other materials likely to pose a high risk for operators" (Source: Holston 2010, paragraph 12). (FAA 2009b, paragraph 3). To effectively accomplish this, airports may enter into a Letter of Agreement or Memo- randum of Understanding with ATC to effect closure It appears that only 6% of participating airports use any when circumstances dictate (Appendix H). continuous surveillance technology or equipment for detect- ing FOD, whereas 4% use technology or equipment for peri- (Source: FAA 2009b). odic surveillance on a daily basis (and an additional 4% on a