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
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
"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