Foreign object damage has no place at Lakenheath

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristopher Levasseur
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Liberty Wing has several programs in place to ensure foreign object debris is something that is on people's minds and not on the flight line.

Having a working understanding of RAF Lakenheath's FOD prevention program can not only prevent equipment damage, but also potentially save lives.

"Simply put, (FOD) is damage to an aircraft or equipment caused by a material foreign to the equipment," said Chief Master Sgt. Gene Lawson, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron chief enlisted manager. "A small stone being ingested into an operating aircraft engine, a bolt cutting the tire of a passing aircraft and even damage to engine blades caused by ice in the air at high altitudes are all examples of FOD. The majority of FOD is preventable, that's where the people come in."

FOD is an issue that RAF Lakenheath always takes seriously, but it is becoming an increasingly hot topic as the wing nears the Air Traffic System Evaluation Program Inspection Aug. 11 to 15.

"The only way to prevent damage caused by foreign objects is to eliminate the existence of these foreign objects in the work area and in aircraft operating areas," said Chief Lawson. "Everyone on base should understand the importance of FOD prevention and what they can do to help eliminate the threat."

One way Airmen can prevent FOD related incidents is by performing vehicle FOD inspections. Vehicle FOD inspections must be completed every time personnel enter the active airfield and at designated FOD check points.

To properly perform a vehicle FOD check, personnel must: 

- Stop at the designated FOD check area 

- Turn off the vehicle 

- Walk around the vehicle inspecting the tires and the entire vehicle for debris 

- Start the vehicle and roll forward approximately one foot or a 180 degree turn of the tires 

- Re-inspect the vehicle and tires 

- Proceed onto the airfield

"In severe cases, foreign objects have caused major damage to government equipment, cost taxpayers millions of dollars and even taken lives of personnel," said Chief Lawson. "Everyone needs to understand how the small items they discard, especially around aircraft operating areas or in areas where the wind can blow the items into operating areas, can potentially cause catastrophic damage in certain situations."

Another way Airmen can prevent FOD related incidents is to pick up debris as they come across it. Don't just drive by a blowing plastic bag or Styrofoam cup, stop and pick it up.

The Liberty Wing has four different incentive programs set up to help raise FOD awareness. They are: 

- The Golden Bolt Finder Award. With the Golden Bolt program, a golden bolt is placed somewhere on the airfield once a month. The placement of the bolt will be in a manner that allows each of the participating squadrons to have the opportunity of finding it. 

- The FOD Poster of the Month Award. All personnel assigned to RAF Lakenheath may submit FOD posters. The poster must promote a strong FOD prevention message which may be hand drawn or computer generated on white paper. 

- The FOD Professional of the Month Award. Selections for this award are based on nominations submitted by supervisors through their squadron FOD monitors or alternates. Individuals submitted must have demonstrated exceptional FOD awareness and contributions to the FOD prevention programs. 

- The FOD Professional of the Quarter Award. The Quarterly FOD incentive is awarded to the individual that has made significant contributions to the FOD prevention program. The winner is selected against all the monthly FOD winners for that quarter.

The Liberty Warrior that receives any of these incentive program awards will receive a Letter of Appreciation, a Certificate of Appreciation, two free meal coupons from the Army Air Force Exchange
Service, two free movie passes from AAFES and a one-day pass. For the FOD Professional of the Quarter Award, recipients will also receive a three-day pass.

"For fiscal year 2008, Lakenheath has had a total of nine minor FOD incidents, which cost the wing $85,000 in repairs," said Tech. Sgt. Randy Simon, 48th FW FOD prevention monitor. "Even though we have had nine FOD incidents, we have had zero chargeable incidents because they were all each under $20,000."

In addition to vehicle FOD check points, FOD walks are required to be performed before the beginning of the day's flying operations.

"FOD prevention is a very big deal, it costs us millions of dollars every year replacing and repairing damaged aircraft and equipment," said Chief Lawson. "People need to realize that the smallest of items can potentially cause a major mishap in this wing and possibly even take the life of an Air Force member."