FOD you say? Tell me more.  

Foreign Object Debris (FOD) at airports includes any object found in an inappropriate location that, because of being in that location, can damage equipment or injure personnel. FOD includes a wide range of material, including loose hardware, pavement fragments, catering supplies, building materials, rocks, sand, pieces of luggage, and even wildlife. It can be found at terminal gates, on cargo aprons, taxiways, runways, or even on run-up pads.

“Damage from FOD is estimated to cost the aerospace industry $4 billion a year,” says Matt Marais, GM Aviation as Essendon Fields Airport. 

“Resulting damage might see aircraft engines damaged if ingested, aircraft tyres cut, FOD being lodged in aircraft mechanisms preventing them from operating properly, or even people injured after the FOD is propelled by a jet blast or prop wash. FOD-prevention and clearance are the responsibility of all airport users,” he says.

Justin Dessmann, Team Leader of Airport Operations explains that Essendon Fields Airport operates a number of defences against FOD. 

“Our Airport Operations Officers conduct regular and frequent inspections of the airfield, including aircraft manoeuvring areas and adjacent open spaces in order to manage FOD. If FOD is spotted on or near the runway, we will request Air Traffic Control to hold any runway movements until the culprit has been removed and the runway cleared for use” he says. 

Regular and frequent inspections of airfield buildings, equipment and aprons are also undertaken, with the immediate repair, securing or withdraw from service of items likely to create FOD, as well as pavement sweeps using equipment known as the “FOD Boss”. 

Airport Safety Week aims to enhance and add to the safety conversation by encouraging all staff and contractors working on our aerodrome to consider their obligations to provide a safe environment for all airport users.

“In relation to managing FOD at Essendon Fields Airport, there are a number of ways that you too, no matter your role or aviation experience can be involved,” says Matt.

He explains that any piece of rubbish you accidentally drop near an aerodrome can be hazardous, with face masks being particularly troublesome of late, and encourages you to collect any waste you see lying about and dispose of appropriately. Those tools you were about to leave lying about? Don’t. Plus make sure all your materials and equipment are stored whether landside or airside so that they cannot be blown away by high winds or aircraft engine blast.

“Training staff, contractors, airport personnel and the local community on the hazards of FOD and what they can do to help minimise is imperative to our FOD management system,” finished Matt.

For more Airport Safety Week content, please visit Essendon Fields Airport on Instagram and Facebook.


Essendon Fields Health and Safety Month | October 2023

We’re promoting all things health, safety, and wellness this October at Essendon Fields. From personal wellbeing, to safety at work and across our airport operations, we welcome our community to learn, engage and get involved. Visit more via