Looking for FOD in All the Right Places

You’d be surprised what items are found on and around an airport runway. Sometimes, what is there shouldn’t be and can be dangerous to aircraft taking off and landing. That’s why about 50 employees of Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), SLC airlines and others who work on the airfield recently spent a few hours clearing unwanted items from the runway area.

It was all part of the annual FOD Walk. FOD, which stands for Foreign Object Debris, can cause damage to aircraft and affect their ability to function properly. It can also be harmful to airport personnel working on the airfield.

“The FOD walk is an important aspect of the airport’s management program,” said Candace Deavila, Airport Operations Manager at SLC. “Safety is the number one priority for the airport whether it is landside or airside.”

During the fall FOD walk, employees scanned a one-mile area along the west runway and removed 54.65 pounds of FOD. While FOD is sometimes found on the runway itself and immediately removed, most is found on the sides of a runway. Half of the group started walking from the north end of the runway while others began from the south, until everyone met in the middle. SLC Operations coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to temporarily close the runway for under an hour.

Most of the FOD found was catering trash, pop cans, paper and plastic. Unique finds included a static wick from a Boeing aircraft, a fuel cap, and remnants of electrical conduit.

SLC Airport officials will determine which runway will be part of the spring FOD Walk, and schedule a day for the area to be cleared of unwanted and potentially dangerous items – all with the goal of keeping passengers and employees safe.