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Keeping the skies safe with standards and certification
Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash

Flying might be the last thing on your mind as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, or you could be dreaming of the day you can jump on a plane and head on holidays or fly to a work meeting.

The aviation industry remains one of the hardest hit throughout the pandemic.  According to the 2020 Aviation Beyond Borders Report by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), there was a 94.4% drop in passenger traffic for April 2020 versus April 2019 and 64% of the global fleet in storage at the height of the crisis in April 2020.

The impact is far reaching when considering related airline services, such as catering, maintenance, airport staff, tourism and business travel as well as the transport of goods.

Every part matters

The most important thing about flying is passenger safety and the reliability of the aircraft. Vehicles for aerospace are built using many commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) electronic components, originally designed and produced for other areas, such as telecoms or consumer electronics.

This means that their designs, configuration-control processes, qualification methods, and reliability-assurance practices have evolved and been implemented without considering the requirements of aerospace users.

Another key issue facing the industry is the speed with which COTS components evolve and the new issues arising, which may affect the safety of these parts when used in the air.

Since the responsibility falls with the manufacturers to ensure the safety of the vehicles they produce, the avionics industry has had to define its own processes to demonstrate reliability for the COTS parts used in planes.

The benefits of IECQ certification

IECQ is the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components. It is an approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components and associated materials and assemblies (including modules) and processes.

IECQ helps electronic component parts suppliers guarantee that their products meet requirements of IEC International Standards. It saves time and cost by avoiding the need for repeat second party auditing of electronic component part suppliers.

Two key aspects are covered:

Facility certification: An IECQ Certification Body (CB) evaluates a supplier’s quality management system and grants facility certification for a process or family of components or component parts concerned, to a specific specification or standard.

Product certification: Suppliers must demonstrate, through testing, that the component conforms to the relevant quality assessment specifications declared by the manufacturers. If suppliers have in-house testing facilities to carry out all tests required by the specification or standard, the IECQ CB will ensure the facilities are adequate. Alternatively, external testing laboratories accepted by IECQ CB may be used.

The IECQ Avionics Scheme ensures third-party assessment and certification of compliance of avionics parts and assembly management requirements to IEC Technical Specification 62239, published by IEC Technical Committee 107 which develops process management standards for systems and equipment used in avionics, which includes electronics used in commercial, civil and military aerospace applications.

Part 1 covers process management for avionics for the preparation and maintenance of an electronic components management plan and Part 2 covers the preparation and maintenance of an electronic COTS assembly management plan.

These publications provide the structure for avionics equipment manufacturers, subcontractors, maintenance facilities, and other aerospace component users to develop their own electronic component management plan.

The aim is to guarantee customers that all electronic components in the equipment of the plan owner are selected and applied in controlled processes compatible with the end application, and that technical requirements listed in the standard are accomplished. These cover: component selection, application, qualification, quality assurance, dependability, compatibility with the equipment manufacturing process, data and configuration control.

Counterfeit avoidance

IECQ also offers the Counterfeit Avoidance Programme (IECQ CAP) which allows any equipment manufacturer or subcontractor to develop and implement the systems required to obtain an IECQ CAP Certificate of Conformity.

This global programme provides confidence that an organization has processes for managing counterfeit avoidance in the selection and use of components according to IECQ CAP technical and quality management system requirements.

Find out more about IECQ.

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