GREENVILLE, S.C. — On Saturday, Aug. 29, 64 people saw the sun rise at the Greenville Downtown Airport (KGMU) in South Carolina, while volunteering to do a clean sweep of the runways, taxiways and ramp areas.
“Greenville really takes aviation safety seriously. I have never seen so many people come out to help with a FOD walk. At other airports, we have been lucky to get five people,” said Keat Pruszenski, a local upstate aviation enthusiast, who organized the event to recognize South Carolina Aviation Week.
“In South Carolina, general aviation airports contribute over $417 million to the state’s economy annually and support over 5,000 jobs, and the Greenville Downtown Airport has a total economic impact of $35.2 million and supports 453 jobs,” according to the Alliance for Aviation Across America.
Airports across the state were asked by the South Carolina Aviation Association to hold an event, like a FOD walk, to help bring people out to airports to see first hand how airports serve their community.
At the FOD Walk, while both runways were closed, teams of volunteer FOD inspectors walked in lines with flashlights in hand, spaced about 10 feet apart, to find and pick up any foreign objects that might cause damage to aircraft.
Why? Because “FOD is responsible for quite a bit of aircraft damage each year and is a threat to aircraft safety. It can damage tires, engines, wind screens and airframes. The Concorde crash in Paris in 2000 was due to FOD,” stated Pruszenski. “I was told by a friend who works at an airline that they have to replace four to five wind screens (aircraft windshields) every week due to FOD blown on them from jet blasts. There have been many studies that show the cost for FOD due to damage to aircraft every year is in the millions of dollars.”
What is FOD? It is anything that should not be on the airport surfaces where aircraft have movement. Common items are things that can fall out of shirt pockets like badges, hats, pens, pencils, cell phones, and pocket lights. Some items come off of aircraft or vehicles like tire valve caps, aircraft lens lights, screws, nuts and bolts. Other items are naturally occurring, like sticks, acorns, rocks and pavement particles that have come loose from the surface.