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Certifying electronic components for safer skies
artur-tumasjan-airport.jpg
Airport scene by Artur Tumasjan

Over the past few years, trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has risen to 3.3% of global trade, according to a report by the OECD.

Such products can be dangerous for consumer health and safety and cause substantial financial losses. Twelve percent of counterfeit product seizures fall in the category of electrical equipment, such as medical devices, toys and household electrical goods. But it doesn’t stop there.

Counterfeit parts raise risks

In recent years, a significant number of counterfeit electronic parts have entered the supply chain, posing performance, reliability and safety risks.

These parts may be made of substandard materials, be assembled poorly and not have undergone third party testing and qualification. If they make it into products and systems, it could be disastrous for manufacturers and distributors.

Counterfeit electronic parts may be removed from devices, cleaned up and presented to the market as new, without assurances that proper methods have been followed to ensure the part is undamaged and reliable.

Instilling confidence

Aircraft are made of thousands of components. Many of these are commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) electronic components, originally designed and produced for other areas, such as telecoms or consumer electronics. If counterfeit electronic parts make their way into aircraft and fail to perform, the results could be catastrophic.

Aerospace and avionics industries are addressing these issues through IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, which offers the Counterfeit Avoidance Programme (IECQ CAP).

This Programme uses standards which have been developed to avoid, detect, mitigate and dispose of counterfeit parts for manufacturers or distributors, for example IEC 62239-1, Process management for avionics - Management plan - Part 1: Preparation and maintenance of an electronic components management plan, which is the reference for IEC Avionics – Aerospace Defence and High Performance IECQ ADHP scheme.

IECQ CAP enables manufacturers and distributors to ensure that their products are genuine and perform as they should. It offers sampling, test processes, test results, and production controls, which are monitored and verified by an impartial third-party certification body.

Benefits of IECQ CAP certification

Manufacturers can reduce risks and liability through IECQ CAP certification as well as benefit from:

  • Internationally recognized certification of products and services
  • Advanced detection of potential technical problems in the supply chain
  • Elimination of duplicate testing
  • Easier acceptance by regulators and others in the supply chain in many countries

International discussion forum for the avionics community

The Avionics Users Forum, known as the IECQ Hub, was established by IECQ for different stakeholders in the avionics industry to discuss specific technical issues, industry standards and auditing programmes. The idea is to share expertise, market intelligence and best practices to optimize supply chain excellence and mitigate risk.

Members include avionics original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their subcontractors, regulators, air-framers and standards developers.

Some of the technical areas covered include:

  • Anti-counterfeit/obsolescence management
  • Microcircuits, diodes, transistors, passive and semiconductor wear-out
  • LED lighting
  • Atmospheric SEE radiation
  • Mechanical parts
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