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Volunteers collect a dozen bags of hazardous material from runway

A (Foreign Objects Debris) FOD plod took place on the runway yesterday morning, with participants from the RAF, MOD, NATS, airport staff and their family members carrying out a manual inspection of the airfield.

Volunteers pick up anything that looks like it could be a hazard to aircraft, regardless if it was big or small.

FOD

Yesterday, they collected around a dozen black bags weighing approximately 30 kilograms of FOD.

Most of this was general waste such as plastic bottles, crisp and cigarette packets. However, some larger items such as pieces of wood, rubber tubes and metal components were also collected.

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

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In doing so, he began by thanking everyone for coming at 8am to take part in such an event.

“The importance of today can’t be stressed enough, as you can see the sweeper is already out on the road and he is hoping that during the course of today you do not find anything and actually I hope you do not find anything either. Because, that means that AGSU area doing their job,” said Wing Commander Kane.

The aim of the exercise was to not just find FOD on the surface of the runway but in the surrounding area too. This was evident from the amount of FOD that was removed from the area of the tunnel that is presently under construction.

While the intention of the FOD plod is to collect debris, its importance is twofold with education also being a focus.

“To get that knowledge out there, that wide spread knowledge of what FOD is, the damage it can do and how we all have a role to play in keeping the airfield safe so we can do both the Military forward mounting based tasks and civilian flights,” said Wing Commander Kane.

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“11,500 people cross that runway in the first two hours of the morning so while we are out there and walking along picking stuff up they are looking across the runway and seeing us out there and they are thinking ‘what are they doing?’ and they might just click on that we are picking stuff up, we are clearing the runway.”

“It may just past that education to them that when they walk along and they drop something out of their pocket, they might just take those two seconds that it takes to pick it up rather than just leave it there for someone else.”

“As it says on the posters, FOD and flight safety is everyone’s business, not just AGSUs and ours,” he added.

FOD is a major hazard to civilian and military aircraft safety. 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.

Pics by Eyleen Gomez