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Tuesday, Jul 6 2021

TAC Air Safety: Active FOD Prevention

As a part of our ongoing safety efforts, a story in a series of many to come, we wanted to share more details around FOD.

Foreign Object Debris (FOD) is a term heard often around airport ramps. The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) defines FOD as: Any object that does not belong on the airport runway, taxiway or ramp. Items considered FOD include aircraft parts, mechanics’ tools, nails, luggage parts, stones, shrubbery, personal belongings, and other objects which may cause costly damage to an aircraft, or even lead to an accident or cause harm to those present when left on the ramp.

This debris, called FOD in and around airport ramps, has the potential to cause damage to an aircraft and its passengers and crew if it makes direct contact with the aircraft, for example if ingested into the engine or cutting up tires. According to Boeing, the resulting damage is estimated to cost the aerospace industry $4 billion each year.

While certain external FOD hazards such as hail, bird strikes or an animal wandering onto a runway cannot always be controlled, this safety hazard can be managed by active measures such as conducting daily FOD walks around the airport ramp space to seek out and dispose of any found debris, or FOD.

Committed to keeping all customers, employees and aircraft safe, TAC Air has implemented FOD walks as part of its Safety Management System (SMS). NATA explains, “An SMS defines how operational safety should be managed and integrated into an organization’s business activities. A well-developed and implemented SMS keeps the safety message consistent, interesting and always out front. An SMS can help identify risks inherent within your business.” Armed with this knowledge, the TAC Air SMS enables frequent assessments of potential safety hazards and provides the chance to correct them to keep associates, customers and their aircraft safe from harm.

 “We believe one of the most important things we can do is protect our customers, both physically and financially. By conducting FOD walks, we meet 3rd party requirements for safety compliance certifications,” stated Bob Schick, TAC Air Director of Operations Support. “By conducting regular FOD walks and following the other safety protocols as outlined in our SMS, we are providing customers an important safety service as well as a financial management service to protect their investment.”

The Salt Lake City International Airport Authority has a concerted effort to collect FOD every quarter. As a part of this, the airport created a sculpture from found debris turned in. Every quarter the airport tenant who turns in the most FOD is awarded the statue, called the “FOD Trooper.” TAC Air — SLC has won this award several times. Reference photo of statue below. Notice in the photo the zipper pull fingers, bag tags, luggage hardware arms, fuel caps, knee pads and seat legs that comprise the figure.

All TAC Air associates have a role when on a ramp or around an airport: to keep it clean and safe. “If you see it, pick it up,” said Schick. “Prevention is key to proper safety.”

TAC Air has earned 3rd party safety certifications from key industry organizations, including NATA and the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO). Certifications include: NATA Safety 1stNATA Safety 1st Clean and IS-BAH Stage 2 Registration. These safety seals of approval confirm TAC Air is compliant with required safety standards and the FBO locations incorporate the global industry code of best practices.

These leading industry safety certifications require SMS program implementation, ongoing training to reinforce key safety messages and educating employees of the proper safety protocols and procedures TAC Air has established, including conducting FOD walks for FOD prevention.

FOD prevention is only one aspect of the comprehensive TAC Air SMS. Associates are required to perform regular ramp inspections and conduct formal FOD walks to reinforce the importance of this responsibility to all team members. TAC Air defines FOD as Found Object Debris, as it is no longer foreign since we remove it from the ramp, which keeps everyone safer.

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