GEIA prepares to release three new standards dealing with lead-free electronics

20 September 2006 News

The Government Electronics and Information Technology Association (GEIA) [] in the United States, is in the final stages of publishing three industry consensus documents to aid aerospace, defence, and other high performance electronics industries to respond to the global transition to lead-free electronics. That transition is driven by two EU Directives: 2002/95/EC Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and 2002/96/EC Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Although aerospace and defence products are expected to be either out of scope or exempt from the directives, GEIA says that the aerospace and defence industries will be 'swept along' as the larger global electronics industry transitions to lead-free products.

The documents were prepared by the Lead-free Electronics in Aerospace Project Working Group (LEAP WG).


Performance standard for aerospace and high performance electronic systems containing lead-free solder:

This document is intended for use by aerospace and defence electronic system customers, eg, airframe integrators, military operators, and commercial airlines, to communicate requirements to aerospace and defence electronic system suppliers, eg, aerospace electronics manufacturers. It is an objective-based document that states customer 'care-abouts' in the form of objectives, and requires suppliers to document the processes they will use to satisfy the objectives.

Examples of objectives are quality and reliability, configuration control, repair, and rework.


Standard for mitigating the effects of tin whiskers in aerospace and high performance electronic systems:

Although many aerospace and defence electronics manufacturers will continue to use tin-lead as an attachment alloy for printed circuit assemblies, they will be forced to use piece parts with lead-free alloy finishes, the most common of which is pure tin. Pure tin finishes promote growth of 'tin whiskers', which can cause serious reliability problems in aerospace and defence systems. The technical details of tin whisker growth and control are not completely understood; but their effects must be controlled in these products.

This standard provides a framework to do so. It is structured according to levels of mitigation, which are selected by aerospace and defence electronics manufacturers and users, based on the level of control required for the given application.


Program management/systems engineering guidelines for managing the transition to lead-free electronics:

This document provides guidance for programme and systems engineering managers for managing the use of lead-free electronics. Programmes may inadvertently introduce lead-free elements (including piece part finish, PCB finish, or assembly solder) if careful coordination between buyer and supplier is not exercised. This handbook is designed to assist programmes in assuring the performance, reliability, airworthiness, safety, and certifiability of product(s), in accordance with GEIA-STD-0005-1.

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