Avionics suppliers have been given a last-minute reprieve from a new European environmental law limiting certain dangerous chemicals in electronic goods.

A European Union restriction (RoHS) on the use of some hazardous substances in electrical equipment and a linked directive on waste electrical equipment were set to enter into force this month. Several member states had indicated they would apply the ruling to avionics and aircraft galley appliances.

The Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) argued that as aircraft equipment is subject to a harsher environment than household appliances, it warranted the continued use of some banned chemicals. “The RoHS could affect the entire supply chain from OEMs [original equipment manufacturers], engine makers, avionics suppliers and equipment manufacturers,” says Tony Houseman, ASD environment attaché.

Last month the European Commission clarified that equipment used in mass transport systems would be exempt. The environment directorate general at the EC says: “As the directive is a bit vague on this point, the Commission has made an interpretation.” The interpretation says: “Equipment specifically designed to be fitted on aircraft, boats and trains falls outside the scope of the RoHS directive.”

Houseman says: “It’s not a ‘victory for the industry’, it’s what was needed; to take the special circumstances into account.”

Source: Flight International