Keeping debris off of runways and taxiways is an ongoing process for airports and those in the aviation and aerospace industries. Foreign Object Damage (FOD) to airplanes and other types of aircraft is a serious concern. Small pieces of pavement, metal screws, or even flattened soda cans could cause serious damage if it were run over by an airplane or sucked into the powerful jet engines.
To help keep debris off the runways and taxiways, you need to determine the most effective FOD removal solution for your airfield, airport, or another area you want to keep debris-free. There are all different types of FOD airport sweepers to choose from, and each has their pros and cons.
Your objective should be to find the FOD removal solution which best meets your needs. Two older technologies used for FOD removal are mechanical sweepers and vacuum sweepers. One of the newest technologies is friction mat sweepers invented by Aero-Tech in Australia, like our FOD*BOSS.
Mechanical Airport Sweepers
These sweepers have mechanically moving brushes to help remove debris out of cracks and direct it into a central collection bin. The main benefit of these types of sweepers is being able to sweep away heavier and larger materials.
The drawbacks of using mechanical sweepers include:
- The brush bristles could break off and be left on runways as FOD.
- Smaller particles are not collected and can get stirred up into dust.
- The sweepers require regular maintenance and brushes have to be replaced.
- Not as effective at FOD removal when it is raining or the pavement is wet.
Vacuum sweepers work similarly to the vacuum you use at home to suck up and remove debris. They work great in dusty environments, and some even have small moving brushes to get into deep cracks. Even though they can generate dust, it gets sucked up and not spread around, like with mechanical sweepers.
The disadvantages to vacuum sweepers include:
- They are heavy and can cause pavement degradation.
- They are slow at efficient sweeping speeds.
- They require regular maintenance and repairs.
- They are not effective on wet surfaces.
Friction Mat Airport Sweepers
Friction mat sweepers collect FOD using a series of brushes to direct debris onto the collection mat. The mats are towed behind different types of vehicles, from golf carts to pickup trucks.
There are several benefits of using friction mat sweepers, including:
- Effective at removing sand, dirt, broken pavement, metal parts, and other small particles.
- Our FOD*BOSS sweeper has 99%+ pickup rate.
- Can clean runways and taxiways faster and more efficiently than other solutions.
- Mats are maintenance-free because there are no motors or vacuums.
- Work on wet pavement and all other hard surfaces.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Friction mats are portable and can be connected to any type of vehicle.