• 18th August 2022

Despite efforts FOD still causes damage to airplanes

Airplane crashes are fairly rare these days. At least part of this is due to efforts to keep FOD (Foreign objects debris) off of airport runways and areas where the planes are operating. FOD News tells us that materials still get onto runways and taxiways at times, but injuries and deaths are relatively rare as a result.

Even a small screw can damage an aircraft engine if it is swept into the engine. Tires can be damaged by debris, and that could cause a crash. Doors and other mechanisms on an airplane could be kept from working properly if foreign materials get lodged. People can also be injured when materials are propelled by jet engines or propellers.

According to the FAA, training, inspection and maintenance are the best defenses against FOD. Airports with a dedicated program, and those with a committee to coordinate those efforts, are the most effective means of controlling FOD.

Even with that effort, there is FOD news to be found. Accidents still happen because a small piece of debris manages to get sucked into an engine, or punctures a tire.  Technology keeps improving to make runways cleaner, but there are still incidents that happen. Here are some FOD news events that have happened in recent years.

  • In July of 2000, an Air France Concorde crashed after takeoff from Paris after pilots lost control.  A tire exploded after takeoff, which ruptured a fuel tank, which caused a fire that disabled the plane.  The culprit was damage due to FOD on the runway.
  • In June of 2010, it was a close call when an engine failed on the runway in Helsinki Finland. Two passenger planes used that runway before the debris had been cleared, which resulted in an investigation. There was no damage to any plane, but officials still felt it was an incident worth reporting.
  • In 2005 a plane sustained significant damage when pavement broke up, causing control issues for the pilot. This resulted in improvements to blast pads.
  • In 2013 in Nuremberg Germany, FOD was found to have contributed to a short circuit that caused smoke and fumes to appear as the plane approached the landing gate.
  • Also in 2013, this time in Singapore, a jet engine ingested an empty cargo container that damaged the engine enough to cause it to have to be replaced. Ground handling procedures were found to be deficient and adjusted.

In other FOD news, wildlife has also caused problems at times on runways.  According to the FAA, the number of wildlife strikes by airplanes has risen at an amazing pace. In 1990 there were 1,800 incidents and in 2018 there were 16,000 reportable incidents.

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