Friday, May 15, 2009
FOD and Bird Strikes
A concept I became intimately familiar with during my aerospace days was foreign object damage, commonly known as FOD. Objects such as
rocks, tools, garbage, etc. left on the runway can be ingested into a jet engine and cause damage. In the common way we have in English, FOD has become the term for the ingested material itself. When I worked at Garrett Aviation, the typical way to begin a shift was to line up all the mechanics and conduct a "FOD walk" on the flightline, picking up any FOD encountered.
I was reminded of all this earlier this week, when the mother of all FOD incidents (see picture) occurred at LAX. A Japan Air Lines B747 sucked up a large metal baggage container. Who missed that on the FOD walk?
The first cousin of FOD is a bird strike, something I posted about a couple of years ago. Bird strikes have risen in public notice since the dramatic story of the US Airways A320 that was forced to crash-land in the Hudson River last January after its engines ingested geese.
Also this week I saw this story on efforts to avoid bird strikes here at DIA, along with a story about how the airport in Bend, Oregon uses a border collie to scare birds away from the runways. I was surprised to learn that DIA leads the nation in bird strikes. I would have expected an airport near one of the coasts, with its attendant sea birds, to have that distinction.
I was also surprised that neither airport uses falconry in its repertoire of techniques to discourage birds.