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FOD ‘plod’ highlights dangers of runway debris

A Foreign Objects Debris (FOD) ‘plod’ took place on the runway yesterday morning, with over 100 members of the RAF, MOD, airport staff and auxiliary people coming together to carry out a manual inspection of the airfield.

The annual event ended with all volunteers enjoying ‘bacon butties’ back in the Western Hanger.

RAF Gibraltar’s Station Commander Wing Commander John Kane is responsible for aviation safety and addressed the volunteers before the FOD plod. He welcomed and thanked everybody present.

FOD is any object that is on the runway that should not be there as it represents a major hazard to civilian and military aircraft safety.

Many will recall the Concorde disaster in 2000 and how the aircraft ran over a titanium strip during take-off, which blew a tyre and punctured a fuel tank. This caused a fire and engine failure resulted in the aircraft crashing into a hotel nearby.

A FOD plod involves a manual inspection of the airfield and runway surfaces, where volunteers picked up anything that looked like it could be a hazard to aircraft, regardless if it was big or small.

Among the items that were collected this year was a blue and white buoy at least three feet long, what appeared to be the hull of a yellow canoe, approximately ten long wreathes, plastic and glass bottles.

The entire runway is swept twice a day with a vehicle, worth over £200,000 with powerful magnets and brushes that removes all unwanted items on the main runway and alongside, while two smaller sweepers tackle the corner areas.

Winston Churchill Avenue is swept for all flight movements.

Sand is one item that is constantly being removed by the FOD squad, and although no one is to blame for this, many are to blame for other types of debris.

It is a common sight to see smokers dispose of their cigarette butts on the runway, as it is for chocolate bar or sweet wrappers.

In these cases the person doing the disposing may not realise the danger they have exposed others to.

This is also why bins are placed at all entrances to the runway.

The motto of “FOD may not be your fault but it is your responsibility” is being instilled into children in schools in a bid to increase awareness and mitigate any potential incidents.

This means if you see FOD pick it up or notify an official. However, above all do not drop FOD.

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