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Global legislation of materials – particularly the banning of lead in commercial electronics sold in the European Union – continue to adversely impact the Aerospace, Defense and High Performance (ADHP) industries.
AIA and the Pb-free electronics Risk Management Consortium (PERM), a group sponsored by the AIA Technical Operations Council and other organizations including TechAmerica and the Defense Department, are working to help industry cope with the constricting regulations.
Lack of funding for Pb-free electronic research and development is impeding the industry’s ability to identify and use unrestricted alternatives to the well-proven use of tin-lead solder in harsh ADHP operating environments.
As a result of the EU's Restrictions of Hazardous Substances, the global commercial shift to Pb-free electronics has impacted the continued use of off-the-shelf electronics in aerospace and defense platforms. The technical knowledge and data necessary to perform quantitative reliability assessments for ADHP Pb-free electronic systems do not yet exist. Based on the current state of technical understanding, the PERM Consortium believes that the ADHP industries do not presently have the technical knowledge or data necessary to provide a level of confidence in reliability. Pb-free electronics can impact avionics system reliability in ways that are both quantifiable and non-quantifiable. The two basic reliability issues are:
(1) Potentially higher probability of failures due to tin whiskers in applications involving pure tin finishes on part terminations, and;
(2) Reduced joint reliability in applications employing assembly solder alloys with significantly different material properties than the traditional tin-lead alloys.
Pending defense budget cuts are making it difficult for ADHP electronics industries to transition to Pb-free materials that comply with EU published directives for Electrical Waste and restrictions of hazardous substances. Additionally, the fiscal year 2013-2016 budget recently presented to Congress did not include the $105 million or the $73 million recommended by DOD's Lead-Free Electronics Technology Focus Team for research and development activities needed to address these issues. It is imperative that federal government funding is appropriated to support the recommended three-year Pb-free electronics research and development beginning in fiscal year 2013.
AIA Source: rusty.rentsch[at]aia-aerospace.org