Increasing FOD prevention by using the right joint sealants

To minimize incidents at aviation facilities, Foreign Object Damage prevention is considered to be top priority. The right joints help to reduce the risk of Foreign Object Damage and help to extend the lifetime of the whole pavement construction. 

For over 60 years, SABA is specialized in high performance sealants for pavement constructions at airports. In this article we would like to share our knowledge and experience about preventing Foreign Object Damage with the right joint sealants.

Arjen Hagevoort
Author Arjen Hagevoort Export Manager

What is Foreign Object Damage?

Foreign Object Damage (FOD) is a constant concern for all aviation facilities. It is the damage, generally caused by debris that reduces the safety and/or the performance characteristics of the aviation facility.

Debris at for example runways, taxiways, tank pits, de-icing platforms and washing facilities at aviation facilities can cause catastrophic incidents (such as the Air France flight 4590). Next to a reduction of safety, FOD can result in major economic consequences. This is why a well-designed FOD prevention program is of great importance.

How can joint seals improve FOD prevention?

Concrete is not a flexible material. It always wants to shrink or expand. This can cause cracking. Therefore, airfield aprons, taxiways and runways often consist of connections to the asphalt and large areas of concrete pavement, divided into sections (slabs) with expansion joints. The expansion joints absorb the movement in the concrete and prevent the pavement from breaking. 

The degree of shrinkage and expansion depends on the climate (Delta T including sun intensity) and the size of the slabs and the joints. It is important to design the joint construction correctly so that the joint size matches the size of the concrete. The design of the joint construction is therefore very important to reduce the risk of FOD.

These expansion joints need to be elastically sealed with the right sealant to prevent the sand flushing away from below the construction. In addition, the seals ensure the pavement remains liquid tight, which prevents soil contamination by hazardous liquids, including kerosene, oil and de-icing agents. 

Joint sealants therefore require high standards. During their entire lifetime, they must bond to the pavement construction and remain elastic and liquid tight. That is why the sealants must resist:

  • Ageing due to climatic conditions, including heat, frost, temperature variations and sunlight;
  • Movement tue to expansion and shrinkage of slabs;
  • Chemical loads, including kerosene, petrol, acids, alkalines, and other chemicals (like de-icing materials).

Inspection and maintenance

During operation, a well-functioning joint seal is crucial in reducing the risk of FOD. At an airport, inspection and maintenance is recommended at least two times per year; two months before the wintertime and the second in springtime. The joints must be inspected regularly and kept free from sand, stones, glass splinters and other debris.

SABA’s sealants for airports

Since 1960, SABA is specialized in the production and development of elastic sealing materials for pavement constructions at airports. Our products are ideal for the reliable and durable sealing of dilatation and contraction joints in runways, taxiways, tank pits, de-icing platforms and washing facilities. Our products have the required certifications, contribute to FOD prevention, and help extend the lifetime of the aviation facility.

Want to know more? Request our brochure!

For more information about our sealing systems for airports, please download the free brochure here.


Sealing with polysulfides

SABA sealing products for airports contain a high polysulfide content. Our SABA Sealer Field, SABA Sealer Fast, SABA Sealer MB and SABA Sealer MB-T have high quality properties and are designed to withstand the aggressive environment of airports. The high polysulfide content gives the sealing products numerous benefits:

  • Exceptional resistance to chemicals and fuels/oils;
  • High UV resistance;
  • High temperature resistance;
  • Optimal adhesion (using a primer) to concrete, asphalt concrete and different metals;
  • The products cure evenly, even under extreme conditions;
  • Human and environmental friendly;
  • Reference period of 25 years which results in cost savings;
  • Fast curing time in combination with a relatively long open time which ensures time and cost savings.


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SABA’s years of experience

SABA’s products have a proven track record at more than 150 airport all over the globe. Our sealant systems for (military) airports can be applied in various climates. From very hot climates such as in the Middle East to extreme cold climates as in Siberia. In this video, we show the application of our products at an airport in Iceland.

Choosing the right joints sealant is one step in increasing the safety of the aviation facility. SABA always supports with professional help and technical application support on site. With our proven systems and references all over the world, we are a suitable partner in FOD prevention. Please get in touch for more information.