A FOD check is supposed to prevent any foreign objects that may impair the airport staff’s ability to do their jobs. It ensures the pilot, controllers, and even luggage carriers don’t have to worry about being injured or inadvertently making the situation worse by going about their normal routine. Not only do better checks mean better operations, it can also increase the reputation of the airport and the safety of the passengers. More thorough checks can help everyone get the results they’re looking for.
Most people know what it means to cut corners when you have a job to do. To a certain extent, it’s a necessary component of any workplace. If we all had to wait for conditions to be 100% perfect, nothing would ever get done. But when it comes to airport FOD, it’s clear that the $4 billion in damages and indirect costs due to foreign objects is an indicator that the checks need to be tightened up. Whether it’s a luggage handler who fails to see a leftover screw on the tarmac or a pilot who missed the odd water bottle that rolled under the rudder, everyone may need an additional training session or two to go over the proper protocol for a FOD check.
A Culture Change
A FOD check will never be given the gravity it deserves unless there’s a culture change at the airport. As long as the vast majority of people take the idea seriously, there will be plenty of peer pressure to ensure that everyone does the right thing. But remove the sense of urgency, and it will get pushed to the back of everyone’s minds. To get better results, everyone needs to be aware of the importance of slowing down and getting everything right the first time. This isn’t easy to do when there’s an emergency situation, but the consequences of failure can end in far worse results than the original problem.
If it seems as though everyone in the organization understands the importance of the FOD check and yet the number of FOD incidences or violations continue to mount, then it’s possible you need to adjust the protocol to catch potential hazards. Whether this means altering the schedule, tweaking the instructions, or buying additional tools to make the checks more successful, there are changes that can be made to up your success rates. If you do choose this route though, make sure to weigh the pros and cons before implementing any changes. If the rules are constantly changing, the confusion can result in safety hazards if the staff can’t keep up with each new update.