It only takes one grocery bag to damage a jet

It appears as though plastic grocery bags are not only a threat to the environment, but also to military jets. There’s an interesting article at the US Air Force in Europe site on the damage to aircraft that can be caused by plastic bags, the threat is so great that the Air Force have been issuing free reusable bags to Airmen and their families.

by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 52nd Fighter Wing’s foreign object damage manager, in collaboration with base civilian agencies, provided free reusable grocery bags to Airmen and their families at the Spangdahlem Commissary Nov. 15 in an effort to enhance recognition of the dangers loose debris has on the base’s flying mission.

“It only takes one grocery bag to damage a jet,” said Master Sgt. Matthew LaNew, FOD manager. “The agencies on base have donated thousands of reusable grocery bags to get people in the mindset that loose bags truly are a FOD hazard.”
Foreign object debris is the actual rubbish on the ground or in the air. It becomes foreign object damage when that debris damages government equipment. For example, when the vacume created by an aircraft’s engine sucks in hardened trash fragments, it can destroy a turbine.

Wing leadership spent $14.7 million on FOD-related incidents in fiscal year 2011. As such, LaNew charges Airmen to actively watch for debris.

“If you see trash,” he said, “just pick it up. It’s easy; plus, it’s everyone’s responsibility. As service members, we should be doing our part to reduce spending.

“If we don’t increase our awareness of this problem, we’re saying, ‘It’s okay to pay for FOD-related damages and not the stuff we need,'” he added.

With plastic bags being a high-threat item, LaNew said he hopes base stores will soon switch to a more environmentally-friendly style of commerce: shoppers carry their personal, reusable bags into the store and leave with them secured.

“This is one step we can take to help prevent unnecessary damage,” he said. “It’s a new idea on base to shop this way, so we’re asking people to take baby steps. We have to get used to the idea, and it won’t happen overnight.”

Staff Sgt. Idris Royal, 52nd Force Support Squadron and recipient of a reusable bag, said he thinks the bags will get people to start seeing base trash in a new light.

“This is a really good thing we’re doing,” he said. “I already try to pick up any trash when I can, and I’m sure people are more likely to hold onto these bags.”

As of now, there is no set date to require Spangdahlem agencies to stop issuing plastic bags, LaNew said, but he and wing leadership are evaluating when such an initiative could take place.

“This is all for a good cause,” LaNew said. “FOD is not just plastic bags, but if we can control one facet, we need to.”

Source (US Air Force in Europe)

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