The Foreign Object Debris Detection System (FODD) provides continuous monitoring with high-resolution and high-speed detection of Foreign Object Debris (FOD) on critical aircraft operating areas.

Foreign objects that find their way onto airport surfaces jeopardize the safety of both the aircraft and its passengers, causing billions of dollars of damage every year. Ground crew teams are currently responsible for finding these objects, but the manual inspection process is time consuming, restricts runway availability, is subject to human error, and provides no coverage between inspections.

FODD is an automated system that provides continuous monitoring with high-resolution and high-speed detection of Foreign Object Debris (FOD) on critical aircraft operating areas. The FODD system can be installed anywhere from the smallest local airport to the largest commercial or military airfields. It implements a five-point process designed to continuously monitor for FOD, reduce FOD incidents, and improve the airport's safety record.

Leidos selected its Atlanta-based subsidiary Varec, Inc. to manufacture, test, install, and support Leidos-implemented foreign object debris detection systems.


Smart Sensors — Surface Detection Units (SDUs) utilize existing edge light infrastructure to minimize installation costs and convert existing runways or taxiway edge lights into smart edge light sensors. The system is capable of rapidly scanning an entire runway/taxiway between aircraft movements and providing excellent detection resolution.

Dual Technology — Surface Detection Units combine a millimeter-wave radar sensor and an optic sensor with NIR illumination and advanced image processing software to help detect, locate and identify FOD in practically all flight-approved weather conditions — even during snow events.

Automatic Operator Alerts — Each smart SDU continuously scans a portion of the aircraft operating areas and analyzes the data locally to detect foreign objects. In cases of positive detection, the FODD system operator receives an audio and visual alert.

FOD Imagery — FODD system software allows the operator real-time interrogation, imagery, and classification of detected FODs. The software also provides the operator precise location and size of detected debris. The SDU includes a built-in laser line generator for highlighting FOD locations, assisting ground crews to efficiently remove the debris in reduced visibility conditions and at night.

The Automated FODD Process

Step 1: Scan and Detect — Each SDU continuously scans a section of the runway, taxiway, or intersection using radar and advanced image processing technologies.

Step 2: Alert — Upon FOD detection, an audio/visual alarm showing the FOD's location is raised at the operator console.

Step 3: Interrogate and Classify — The operator views a high-resolution image and receives FOD physical data (e.g., size, location) supporting a decision to take action.

Step 4: FOD Removal — An operations vehicle is sent to clear the FOD. GPS coordinates and laser assist in efficient removal.

Step 5: Document and Tag — FOD data and actual images are archived and FOD is tagged.


  • FODD's distributed system design provides airfield operators with continuous awareness and efficient coverage of FOD hot spots or entire runways
  • Combined radar and optics technology cuts through snow, rain, or other harsh weather or low-visibility conditions to provide rapid detection of objects between aircraft movements
  • The FODD system offers the unique ability to identify the vehicle that dropped the FOD or source of the debris
  • The FODD system detects static wildlife on the runway and allows for identification of the species via high-resolution imagery
  • Scaleable solution provides a means for incremental installation in line with airport operations or annual budgetary requirements

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