The U.S. aerospace industry group, Government Electronics Industries Association (GEIA), will release guidelines on the performance and qualification testing for lead-free solder during the first quarter of 2008, according to a report from Elfnet, the European lead-free site. The report, entitled, “Guidance Regarding the Performance and Qualification Testing of Aerospace and High-Performance Lead-Free Interconnects,” may come out as early as December of this year.
The aerospace industry is exempt from the European RoHS directive, but the industry has shifted much of its component buying to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts. Many of these parts – which are mass-produced for consumer products – have gone totally lead-free. That leaves the aerospace industry in the difficult position of taking chances with lead-free parts that may grow harmful tin whiskers, or shifting to high-priced military quality parts. In many cases, the shift to high quality military parts is not an option.
Given this situation, guidelines from GEIA could help the industry determine whether COTS parts will stand up to the rigors needed for aerospace parts which are exposed to thermal cycling, vibration, mechanical shock and combined environments such as dust, humidity, salt spray and other environmental threats.