Importance of Airfield FOD Sweepers

In airfields, FOD poses a significant safety risk to aircraft and personnel. Below, we discuss what FOD is, how to prevent it using sweepers and other methods, and what types of FOD sweepers are available.

What Does FOD Mean?

FOD is an acronym for foreign object debris. The Federal Aviation Administration defines it in advisory circular 150/5210-24, Airport Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Management as any object—living or not—located in an inappropriate location with a possibility of damaging aircraft or injuring personnel. Due to the health and safety risk FOD poses, it is essential to keep it in check.

Best Ways to Prevent FOD

There are many ways to prevent FOD accumulation in airports. Some of the most recommended include:


  • Replacing/Repairing Worn Out or Damaged Equipment. The presence of damaged or worn equipment increases the risk of materials or parts breaking off, being left behind, and collecting in and around various areas of the airfield. Replacing or repairing at-risk equipment reduces the likelihood of FOD accumulating in the first place and potentially causing damage to equipment or injury to personnel.

  • Keeping Tools in Check. FOD encompasses more than scrap or waste material. It also includes functional parts and products that are somewhere they should not be. Keeping tools in check ensures they are not left behind after the work they are used in is completed.

  • Using FOD Sweeping Equipment. While replacing/repairing worn out and damaged equipment and keeping tools in check can decrease the amount of FOD that accumulates within an airfield, entirely eliminating airport FOD is near-impossible. For this reason, many airports invest in FOD sweeping equipment to collect any FOD that slips through the cracks. However, it is important to ensure enough equipment is available to cover all of the critical areas in the airfield.

Infographic describing the best ways to prevent airfield FOD
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Types of Airfield FOD Sweepers

There are three main types of sweepers used to clear FOD from runways and other airport areas:

Tow-Behind FOD Sweepers

Tow-behind FOD sweepers are characterized by their relatively simple operation and low operating costs. Rather than utilizing motors or other complex machinery, they rely on external vehicles to move them to and across different areas of the airport. They are available in numerous designs and configurations to suit different applications, many of which are outfitted with airport FOD magnets to pick up ferrous material from the ground. Optional design elements include larger magnets for quicker and more effective removal, storage trays for easier collection and disposal of metal debris, and varying sweeping widths to suit different cleaning area sizes.

Vacuum Truck FOD Sweepers

As suggested by the name, vacuum truck sweepers use truck-mounted vacuum equipment to remove debris. Compared to other FOD sweeper options, they have lower maneuverability and higher purchasing and operating costs. However, they are highly efficient at cleaning FOD from larger areas and more comfortable for extended FOD sweeping operations (8+ hours). Vacuum truck sweepers can also be outfitted with airport FOD magnets. Generally these use hanging type magnets, and they’re offered with quick clean-off features, different levels of magnet strength, and wheeled or non-wheeled magnets.

Walk-Behind FOD Sweepers

Walk-behind FOD sweepers come at a lower cost than both tow-behind and vacuum truck FOD sweepers. They are available in powered or non-powered variations. Powered sweepers typically use small engines that supply power to automated sweeping brushes or vacuums, while non-powered sweepers normally feature side brooms that are mounted on steel hoppers.

Choose Bluestreak for High-Quality Airfield FOD Magnetic Sweepers

Airfield FOD sweepers play a critical role in keeping runways and other areas of airports safe for aircraft and personnel. If you need airfield FOD magnets as part of your FOD control solution, Bluestreak has got you covered.


Our magnetic sweepers allow for faster and effective control of airport FOD. They are available in three models, Piranha™, Wrasse™, and PYR™. For more information about each of our airfield FOD sweeper products, check out our airfield FOD magnets product page or contact us today.