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Why Tiny Debris on Airport Runways Can Become a Costly Hazard

Aerosweep provides products for clearing foreign object debris (FOD) left on airport runways to avoid costly damage. This can be any type of object or debris that is left on airport runways, including objects such as:

  • Loose pavement parts
  • Loose parts from other airplanes
  • Pens
  • Identification badges
  • Earplugs
  • Paper clips
  • Litter
  • Tools
  • Screws
  • Clothing
  • Rocks

FOD damage can occur when any type of FOD debris is sucked into the engines on a jet airplane. The engines have many moving parts and components and can increase the trajectory speed of FOD as it exits the engines.

Common FOD damage to engines have resulted in:

  • Bent or broken fan blades
  • Engine failure
  • Engine fires
  • Punctures to airplane fuselages or hulls
  • Wing damage

In addition, FOD debris can puncture the tires on an airplane. If the object is ejected from the tire, the force can puncture the bottom of the plane’s fuselage where fuel tanks are located.

The costs from FOD damage can easily reach millions. According to an article published by Boeing, FOD damage costs the aerospace and aviation industries around $4 billion annually.

The costs to purchase airplane engines and parts and components are much more than when the plane was originally manufactured. Based on data provided by Boeing, costs for repairing FOD damage can be:

  • $8 to $10 million for a new MD-11 engine
  • $3 to $4 million for a new MD-80 engine
  • $500,000 to $1.6 million to overhaul an MD-11 engine
  • $250,000 to $1 million to overhaul an MD-80 engine
  • $25,000 for one set of MD-11 engine fan blades
  • $7,000 for one set of MD-80 engine fan blades

These costs do not include the indirect costs of FOD damages, such as:

  • Canceled and delayed flights
  • Refunds and flight credits issued to customers
  • Costs for hotel rooms and food vouchers issued to customers
  • The costs of labour for flight maintenance crews to fix damaged aircraft
  • Unhappy customers who may lose faith in the airline
  • Possibility of personal liability if injuries occur
  • Costs to reposition aircraft to replace FOD damaged airplanes

Regular removal of FOD can help reduce the risks associated with FOD damages. Aviation and aerospace safety needs to include an effective FOD removal plan using various methods, which can include visual inspections, sensors, and different types of equipment.

One of the most effective pieces of FOD removal equipment is an airport runway sweeper, like our FOD*BOSS. This piece of equipment is attached to the back of a vehicle and pulled down runways and taxiways. As it moves over the hard surfaces, it collects debris and deposits it into capture zones.

It can pick up sand, rocks, pieces of pavement, screws, nuts, bolts, and all sorts of objects and broken materials. The FOD*BOSS is even used on military aircraft carriers to remove debris from flight decks. Contact Aerosweep to learn more about the FOD*BOSS and our other runway sweeper solutions.

For more information, please refer to our website

Between 20 July 2011 and 8 May 2013, the University of Illinois Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT) conducted extensive research into the origins...
The FOD*BOSS is an advanced patented sweeper designed exclusively for collecting foreign object debris (FOD). 
The FOD*BOSS clears foreign object debris (FOD) from large international airports to small regional airstrips.
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