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August 3, 2020updated 23 Dec 2021 8:05am

How should airports best tackle foreign object debris as the travel industry re-opens?

With lockdown grounding thousands of flights last year, and global passenger traffic still weak, many airport operators have experienced a devastating period characterised by a huge amount of lost revenue, combined with heavy staff and resource shortages.

As travel bans lift and global vaccination efforts ramp up, passengers will start to return. Despite the road to recovery coming into view, airports are finding themselves re-opening into tough conditions, and operators need to be fully aware of the challenges facing the air travel industry if they’re to have the best chance of surviving.

One issue that may not seem immediately obvious to operators, but which has the potential to cause serious problems as airports begin their re-opening processes, is foreign object debris (FOD) collecting on runways and other operating areas used by aircraft.

Slashed operating budgets and curbed spending plans are likely to have led to the repurposing of experienced airport staff during lockdown, and some maintenance projects will have come to a standstill as a result. Maintenance procedures that might previously have been carried out every couple of days have slipped to being done weekly, fortnightly or even monthly, and the regular routine of maintenance staff completing, and logging tasks may have also suffered.

In these circumstances, it is vital that returning airport staff receive proper education around the issues associated with FOD, and training in how to deal with them. FOD can come in many different forms, with frequent sources including the detached parts of baggage, nuts and bolts, nails, washers and small piece of wire, sand, and stones. Of greatest concern to airport managers, though, should be FOD that comes from the deterioration of airport tarmac surfaces.

Aircraft operating surface deterioration is usually caused by repeated aircraft movement, which leads to the tarmac breaking down into very fine stones and gravel. This usually occurs at certain stress points around an airport, like at turning nodes and in taxi ways. With Covid-19 impacting maintenance programs at many airports, and with operators currently looking to stretch budgets as far as they will go, these stress points may have become particularly vulnerable to deterioration just when airports are starting to increase flights.

Collecting large amounts of FOD from airport runways can be extremely costly, especially when done with traditional vacuum trucks. However, the FOD*BOSS airfield sweeper from Aerosweep provides a much more cost-effective solution for airport operators with stretched budgets. This unique sweeper doesn’t accrue any additional running costs since neither maintenance nor training is required to operate it, making it a completely affordable solution for all airfields, regardless of their size.

The FOD*BOSS’s pick-up rate is unrivalled!  It is also quicker and the distance covered per hour greater than other FOD sweeping solutions. Debris such as nuts, bolts, pavement fragments, washers, rivets, stones, sand, and gravel can be collected simply and inexpensively. The sweeper can also be extended from a single sweeper to a Duplex or Triplex configuration, making it easy to switch from sweeping small or tight areas out to larger, more expansive areas such as the runways of international airports. It has been designed to be a primary FOD sweeping system yet offers the flexibility to play a supportive role to street sweeper systems by providing a small operating footprint. That means getting in amongst parked aircraft and ground support personnel is not an issue and something a sweeper truck can’t manage.

The FOD*BOSS is considered one of the safest, most reliable FOD solutions on the market.  Indeed, the sweeper is relied on by military forces around the world, with many air force jets not touching down before a FOD*BOSS has had chance to clear the runway.

The sweeper was even used successfully by the United Space Alliance in Cape Canaveral, Florida. After using the FOD*BOSS to move its space shuttle from its horizontal hangar to the vertical assembly building prior to launch, J Seaman, a spokesperson for the organisation said: “Believe me there has never been a cleaner tow path!”

Since the launch of the first FOD*BOSS sweeper 25 years ago, Aerosweep has continued to evolve and adapt its successful model, introducing new and exclusive features, and using new technology along the way to improve the sweepers’ durability and performance. As airports around the world begin implementing their recovery strategies following the Covid-19 crisis, airport operators can feel assured that FOD*BOSS will give them the most up to date, efficient and cost-effective solution to their FOD sweeping needs.

Want to see how the FOD*BOSS can make a critical difference to the FOD sweeping operations at your airfield?  Contact us by clicking below and we can have our specialist dealer in your region contact you within 24 hours.

Free Whitepaper

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Foreign object debris (FOD) is a serious safety issue for airfields, and effective runway and ramp sweepers are required to ensure it is collected from the ground. Download this whitepaper to learn more about the issue and find out why the FOD*BOSS is considered the ultimate airfield sweeper for fast, safe and effective FOD removal.

Download Whitepaper

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