It doesnt take much to bring down an F/A-18 Hornet or an H-60 Sea Hawk.
Just a little oversight or carelessness will do.
During Operation Inherent Resolve in 2015, an F/A-18 Super Hornet crashed about two miles after taking off from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The investigation revealed left engine failure caused by pieces of the catapult's water brake splashguard.
In 2011, a plastic plug used in the painting phase of a new MH-60R Sea Hawk made its way into one of the aircraft's tail gear boxes and interfered with the lubrication of the bearings, causing the tail rotor to seize. Damage from the resulting crash included the detachment of the left-hand main landing gear and caving in of the aft tail landing gear.
Two years later, the Sea Hawk was repaired at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) by using components from a donor aircraft.
Foreign object debris (FOD), or any errant material that may prove harmful to an aircraft engine or its components, cost the global aerospace industry about $4 billion annually, according to the National Aerospace FOD Prevention, Inc.
Naturally occurring FOD, like birds and ice, also pose a significant threat: In the U.S. aircraft strike birds about 40 times a day, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and annually cause more than $1 billion in damage worldwide.
At FRCSW --- from the shop to the test line --- FOD is everyone's responsibility.
Quite often, quality assurance (QA) personnel take the lead in the battle against FOD to not only protect the aircraft, but more importantly, to ensure the safety of the pilot and crew.
FRCSW QA personnel perform quality verifications on all repairs, sheet metal, rivets, and structural modifications. QA representatives are depot-level certified with the airframes they inspect.
Ready-for-issue (RFI) components and support equipment also undergo a QA FOD inspection prior to release, as well as any aircraft that has not flown for more than 30 days.
When FRCSW artisans complete repairs or maintenance, they observe the 18-inch rule, or an inspection within that diameter of the area serviced to eliminate any potential FOD.
Afterward, a thorough accounting and inspection of all tools, hardware and materials used in completing an assignment helps to reduce the possibility of FOD contamination.
Within and near the hangars, and at the test line, FOD Walk Downs occur throughout the day to collect debris as part of the command's inspection to achieve a FOD-free environment.
FRCSW holds refresher training annually on its FOD prevention program.