I spent 8 years living and working in Saudi Arabia. As anyone who lives in the desert will tell you, the sunrises are spectacularly beautiful. This picture is of sunrise over Edwards Air Force base this morning…
In the sunrise picture, you’ll note a garbage can in the foreground labeled “FOD” – I’ve included a close-up picture of this also. FOD is an acronym for one of two things; the “FO” stands for “Foreign Object” while the “D” can stand for ‘debris’ or ‘damage’. If you find an object on the desert floor out on the lakebed, you pick it up and put it in a FOD can (or throw it away or something – just get it off of the lakebed). Airplanes land there and the last thing they need is any “Foreign Object Debris” to cause grief. If a plane is damaged by some such object, than it is said to have been “FODDED” – “Foreign Object Damage”.
Great care is taken here to prevent FOD. When vehicles come off of the lakebed and cross the runways to get back to the hanger (or wherever they’re going), they are required to do a FOD check before they cross the runway. You stop the car and go around and check all the tires for rocks and other debris.
FOD is a big deal here and rightly so. Anyone who doubts that a small piece of metal or other debris could be harmful to an aircraft only need remember Concorde Flight 4590 – a flight that crashed due to picking up a piece of metal on takeoff.
(Click on a picture thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture)