Sweeping the flight line: 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron's weekly FOD walk

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natalie Filzen
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

Imagine how many fewer vehicle accidents there would be on neighborhood roads and highways if there was a way to clean up any nails or sharp objects off the streets. From a minor fender bender to a multi-car collision, these accidents can escalate quickly, and the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron has a weekly practice in place to prevent similar instances from happening.

It’s early in the morning on a Friday, and Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group, including some from the 407th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, are all lined up and ready to go on a walk around the flight line.

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Breidor, an aerospace ground equipment section chief, represents one of the many units that participated in the weekly foreign object debris walk. They scan the ground for any items ranging from bolts that fall off equipment, hard rubber pieces from tires, rocks that kick up off the asphalt when planes take off, or trash that blows out in the wind. This reduces situations such as an object getting sucked into an aircraft intake or a tire popping when taxiing.

“FOD can impact to the point that we have a downed aircraft, and we're doing real world missions out here,” said Breidor. “If we have aircraft down, that's one less aircraft that we have to support the mission, whether it's close air support or delivering supplies to other bases. We try to prevent millions of dollars in potential damage, or loss of life.”

Tech. Sgt. Ismael Caldera, the FOD monitor out of the 386th EMXG/Quality Assurance, is responsible for reporting any incidents to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the wing vice commander and the aircraft’s associated units that the FOD came from.

“I am the eyes and ears of the vice wing commander on the flight line as he cannot always be out there,” said Caldera.

FOD walks are a long-standing aircraft safety practice for any organization - public, private or military - that are regarded as general housekeeping. In January, these walks accumulated 68.5 pounds of foreign object debris. These included rocks, plastic water bottles, aluminum cans and construction materials such as foam and insulation.

In addition to preventing serious accidents, the FOD walks also build camaraderie. It can serve as an opportunity to meet other airmen, learn about the different shops within their group and gain exposure to the maintenance crew commander or first shirt.

“Our coalition partners have also joined us a few times to make this a big team effort. We're working with foreign allies and NATO allies out here. It is truly a one one team one fight mentality,” said Breidor.

By the end of the walk the 386th EMXG Commander Col. Grant Meadows shared that it was the largest group of Airmen he had seen come out to date.