Shadow Boards for FOD prevention

In the aviation and aerospace industry, Foreign Object Debris (FOD) is defined as an object, live or not, located in an inappropriate location in the airport environment that can injure airport or air carrier personnel and damage aircraft. According to recent aviation surveys, Foreign Object Damage was ranked as the most prominent and potential ground-based cause that could lead to a catastrophic aviation event. Hence, Airports and Airline service providers must take proactive steps to restrict the generation of Foreign Debris at airports.


Types and Sources of FOD Hazards:

FOD hazards can be of two types: According to the Research and Technology Organization (RTO), FOD hazards can be classified as caused by soft and hard FOD bodies. The impact of soft-body damage can be due to flexible objects such as plastic, birds, or ice slabs. The hard body damage can be due to uneven appearances such as rigid metal parts, concrete, and rock. Based on the studies done on Automatic Detection Systems, more than 60% of FOD items were metal, followed by 18% rubber.


Sources of FOD:

FOD can generate from many sources, complicating the efforts to maintain safe airfield operations. According to an independent study by Boeing, Airplane Operations (maintenance) and Infrastructure are the two significant sources of FOD, followed by the debris from the belongings of passengers and crew.



Financial impact of FOD Hazards:

According to DAA and Individual studies by McCreary, the worldwide direct costs of FOD (including bird strikes) are estimated to be $1.26 billion annually. The total loss – direct and indirect costs (such as those costs created by flight delays), to the global aviation industry stand at $13.9 billion annually. In the United States alone, direct and indirect costs of FOD accumulate to $5.2 billion. Without including damages caused by bird strikes, the United States experiences losses of $2.1 billion annually. The top ten U.S. airports, FOD, and bird strikes on runways generate a loss of $28.3 million annually.


Responsibility, Preventive Measures, and Control of FOD damage:

FOD prevention and control is the responsibility of all airport users – passengers, vendors, airport personnel, maintenance engineers, flight operators and crew, airport authority. However,  specific responsibility must be assigned to trained and supervised individuals under the maintenance program of airport authorities.


Boeing, in its study, mentions that Airports and Airlines have a predominant role in preventing foreign object debris (FOD) and the potential resulting damage, often carried out by laying effective tool control methods and following the principles of 5S and continuous improvement.


Shadow Boarding and Tool Control Program:

FAA Circular 150/5380-5B provides guidelines on the FOD Prevention Program, stressing Airports on the importance of Establishing a Tool Control and Maintenance Program. FAA suggests a tailored Tool control policy for any Aircraft Maintenance activity carried within the Airport or on the Aircraft. The policy should account for:



Why is a Shadow Boarding and Tool Control Program Essential?

The primary objective of a positive tool control program is to eliminate accidents/incidents and loss of life or equipment due to tool FOD. There are numerous methods to facilitate accountability: shadow boards, shadowboxing, barcoding, special canvas layouts with tool pockets, tool counters, chit system, or consolidated tool kits. FAA provides guidelines for Unique control methods which should be implemented for special tools used in the checkout, test, and operational environments. Tools/equipment should be tethered or suitably restrained to the user in areas around structural work stands or any other locations where a dropped article could damage flight hardware, injury to personnel, or where difficulty in retrieval would result if the tool were dropped. All loose tools should be carried and stored in a tote tray, soft tool bag or other suitable container and not be placed in a manner that would cause damage to flight hardware or injury to personnel.


The Tool Control program effectively handles the following five maintenance aspects:


  1. Tool organization: Arranging tools in groups and marking them for quick identification
  2. Tool visibility using Shadow boards: For quick identification of a tool and its availability
  3. Tool security: Boxed storage units for storage and cleanliness
  4. Tool tracking: Owners are provided with Coloured or Numbered labels, which are to be kept at the tool location while using the tool. Also, modern Asset management software such as Anytime Assets mark tools with RFID or QR Codes to track the real-time location of the tool, depending on which logistics are scheduled.
  5. Tool accountability: Modern asset management systems such as Anytime Assets provide full audit trails and calibration schedules of tools.



Shadow boards are devices used for organizing a set of Maintenance tools. The FAA defines a shadow board as a toolbox with specific, marked locations for each tool so that a missing tool will be readily noticeable. It defines where a particular tool belongs and should be placed when they are not in use. First developed for the Aviation and Aerospace industry, shadow boards are now universally used to identify a tool. The boards outline the workstation’s tools marked on them, allowing operators to identify quickly which tools are in use or missing. Often these boards are located near the workstations where the tools are used.


Benefits of Shadow Boards:

  1. Immediate identification and highlighting missing tools
  2. Enhances workplace organization and cleanliness
  3. Color coded to identify a set/grouped tools
  4. Customizable to meet requirements and size of tools


Although adopting Tool Control Program and Shadow boards seem expensive, it is often a relatively small addition to the cost of the tools themselves. The reduction in risk is significant, along with direct and indirect savings.


e2b calibration offers industry-leading consultancy and certified Tool Control, Shadow board, and FOD prevention programs. Our labs are ISO/IEC accredited and operated by a team of qualified experts offering training and consultancy services on FOD prevention. Our verifiable services are unmatched in the industry. Contact e2b calibration for all your equipment calibration needs.



RSVM isn’t all that needs inspected. Here’s all the other equipment that needs calibrated and tested.