FOD & Maintenance Costs

Metal in jet enginesThe effect of Foreign Object Debris (FOD) on maintenance costs can be significant. For example, the cost to repair an FOD-damaged engine can easily exceed $1 million. FOD can also incur extensive indirect costs, including:

  • Flight delays and cancellations, leading to a loss of customers
  • Schedule disruptions caused by the need to reposition airplanes and crews
  • Potential liability because of injury
  • Additional work for airline management and staff

The cost of repairing FOD damage can easily exceed 20% of its original purchase price.

Purchase cost of MD-11 engine: $8-10 million
Purchase cost of MD-80 engine: $3-4 million
MD-11 engine overhaul to correct FOD damage: $500K – $1.6 million
MD-80 engine overhaul to correct FOD damage: $250K – $1.0 million
MD-11 fan blades (per set*): $25K
MD-80 fan blades (per set*): $7K

*Fan blades are balanced and replaced as a set.

US Air Force FOD Improvements

Improvements in US Air Force FOD incidents due to use of magnetic sweepers.As seen on the chart at right, using data compiled by the United States Air Force, incidents from “FOD” or “Foreign Object Debris” inversely decline nearly 1000% when using magnetic sweepers along flightlines and aircraft traffic areas. This chart shows the ratio of FOD incidents per 100k flight hours.

Flat Tire Reduction

Recently Southwest Airlines’ Houston station spent approximately $7000 for tire repair costs. More significant was the time ramp equipment was out of service. As you know, keeping equipment in serviceable condition is essential to running an efficient operation.

Flat aircraft tireSouthwest’s Ground Equipment Maintenance Foreman decided to try Shields Magnetics and their product line, including the magnetic ramp sweeper. This product is designed to pick up metallic FOD in order to prevent ingestion in aircraft engines and to prevent tire damage to ramp equipment. Initially Southwest purchased three Magnetic Ramp Sweepers. These immediately proved very effective. They followed up with an order to equip each of their bag tugs with a unit. The result has been that tires repairs have been significantly reduced, from somewhere in the vicinity of 15 flat tires a week down to two or three.