Airport employees volunteer for annual clean-up event

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By M.J. Subiria Arauz


The sun was rising over Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International

Airport, when more than 200 airport employees faced the cool weather

and began their 30-minute walk across Runway 8L/26R, one of the most active runways in the country, airport officials said.

The volunteers were looking for foreign object debris (FOD), during

the airport's 10th annual "FOD Walk" event, said DeAllous Smith, a

spokesman for Hartsfield-Jackson.

The runway and north cargo ramp were closed, during the time the

event took place, he added. The debris across the runway was scarce

and many volunteers carried light trash bags.

Smith said the overall amount of FOD collected was minimal. The

world's busiest airport performs daily FOD inspections, he said.

Lucas Helms, of Delta Air Lines, said he only found a small piece of

tire from an airplane. "Just a couple of pieces," he said.

"I volunteered just to do my part for picking up FOD and making sure

airplanes are able to land safely," said Mark Wells, of the

Department of Aviation at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Wells said that if FOD is not removed from runways, it causes damage

to aircraft.

Louis Miller, aviation general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson, said

the event allows employees not familiar with the airfield to learn

the importance of removing FOD from the runways.

Miller, who assumed the Hartsfield-Jackson general manager position

in September 2010, said it was his first time participating in the

event. He said he was pleased with the event's turn-out and with how

well it was received by airport employees.

"It is wonderful," said Miller. "Just seeing what is going on and

seeing the enthusiasm of all the employees ... it really makes you

feel good to know people really care about what they are doing and

that is what is being demonstrated here."

Garth Collins, airport operations representative for Hartsfield-

Jackson, said it is always important to involve airport employees in

the FOD event because they are the "heart of success" in the aviation

industry. "We can cut cost by doing things such as picking up a bolt,

trash or anything that can compromise the safety of that flight and

extend the longevity of the equipment," Collins said.

He said people removing FOD from the runway can often find items like

paper, plastic and rubber. When Hartsfield-Jackson conducts its daily

FOD inspections, things such as small aircraft parts, damaged

pavement and broken lights are found.

Airport Spokeswoman Katena Carvajales added that after the FOD Walk

there was an appreciation event for the volunteers, which included a

breakfast and giveaways.

Collins explained that he worked with the FOD Committee to make the

event possible.

"This is a world-class airport and we strive to be as safe and clean

as [possible]," said Collins. "So, it only makes sense to have a FOD