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How FOD In The Cockpit Caused Two Blown Tires On Landing

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Something rolls across the floor on short final. What should you do next?

Report: Cockpit FOD Creates A Serious Problem

We've all seen the posters of FOD (Foreign Object Debris) damage in FBOs and flight schools. During preflight, you probably check access panels for out-of-place tools before takeoff. For instance, I've found pliers, wrenches, and spare rags in the piston engine compartments.

But how about FOD in the cockpit? As a pilot, you try to secure everything in the cockpit - pens, pencils, chargers, etc. But what about the items you can't necessarily strap down in the cockpit? We found the following NASA ASRS report detailing exactly what can go wrong. These pilots, flying a Piaggio P.180 Avanti, experienced a FOD event at the worst possible time...during landing. Here's what happened:

Pilot-In-Command:

I was PIC (Pilot in Command). Upon landing my water bottle fell and lodged between the left rudder and the side wall of the aircraft. I stated to the SIC (Second in Command) that the SIC had the rudder pedals at that time. I put my head down to recover the bottle and when I raised my head the aircraft had braked to a stop. Both main tires had blown.

Second-In-Command:

I was flying Second in Command and was the Nonflying Pilot. Upon touchdown the Flying Pilots water bottle fell down by the rudder pedals. After a bit of swerving and control issues the flying pilot said your rudders and passed the airplane off to me. At this time we were pulling to the right headed to the grass off the side of the runway. I used rudders and braking force to get us stopped and able to stay on the runway. The brakes locked up and the tires blew. On the runway we had a rescue team come out and put the airplane on mini jacks with wheels and safely tugged us off of the runway. Nobody was hurt and other than the tires the damage to the airplane was minimal.


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Landing With Jammed Control Surfaces

Differential thrust, braking, reverse thrust, and aileron input can be used to minimize rudder-induced yawing across the runway surface. Considering this particular example, it's understandable that the tires blew during heavy braking, as the SIC attempted to prevent the airplane from exiting the runway.

Unfortunately, when the FOD jam occurred, there was no longer an option to go-around. The good news is the pilots kept the plane on the runway, and no one was hurt. That being said, no pilot wants to be towed off the runway.

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It Could Happen To Anyone

While something like this could happen to any pilot, the best thing you can do is prevent the FOD incident before it happens. There isn't a lot of space in the cockpit, and if you fly professionally, it becomes your home for a few days. Try to put loose objects in places that prevent rolling or falling. Better yet, use straps to keep all of your gear secure.

What's your strategy for keeping the cockpit organized and secure? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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