REACH: Eurocopter Gets Ready for Phase Two

Even before the end of Phase one of REACH(1), Eurocopter is already well prepared for Phase two, which will culminate in the total substitution of all dangerous chemicals by 2018.

 Eurocopter / Lorette Fabre
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 Eurocopter / Lorette Fabre
The new surface treatment facilities at Eurocopter are a first-rate example of the Group’s long-term commitment to the environment.

Eurocopter has set up a structured, two stage project for all activities related to assuring compliance with the REACH regulation. The first stage concerns the pre-registration of all chemical substances currently in use, while the second stage involves progressively finding substitutes for all chemicals that present a risk to human health or the environment. During stage 1 of the project, Eurocopter set out to identify all of the chemical products it uses, and to produce a list of the suppliers from whom they are obtained. Eurocopter then had to verify that these suppliers had pre-registered all chemical substances contained in these products. These activities took place between June 1 and November 30, 2008. They mobilized the resources of numerous multidisciplinary and transnational teams, the majority of whose members were drawn from the central purchasing department, the design offices, the materials and processes laboratory, and the department for health, safety and the environment. After December 1, 2008, a registration dossier must be prepared to obtain the authorization to continue using the pre-registered substances for a limited duration, until such time as an alternative product has been developed and qualified.

A Cutting Edge Approach
Eurocopter’s approach centers on a network of databases that links the formulation of chemical products with the corresponding industrial processes and, from there, identifies the helicopter components or subassemblies for which they are used. Thanks to these databases, when the list of prohibited substances is published by the European authorities in 2009, Eurocopter will be able to immediately evaluate all affected elements in the manufacturing chain and take targeted measures to find alternatives. The process will be repeated each time that the EU regulation is updated. As an added bonus, this work provides Eurocopter with an ideal opportunity to standardize and rationalize the range of chemical products used in the production of its helicopters, as it has already done in connection with its painting processes. “This will add further credibility to Eurocopter’s declared ambition to be a ‘green’ company manufacturing ‘green’ products. By implementing REACH, all toxic substances will soon be banished from our supply chain, our production and assembly lines, and the same applies to our aircraft,” states REACH project manager Jean-Charles Anifrani.

(1) European regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals, under which the company is required to pre-register all chemical substances used in the manufacture of helicopters.


Three key dates in the REACH timeline

• november 2010
Phase 1 deadline for registering the most toxic substances and hazardous substances used in quantities exceeding 1,000 metric tons per annum

• June 2013
Phase 2 registration deadline for hazardous substances used in quantities exceeding 100 metric tons per annum

• June 2018
Phase 3 registration deadline for hazardous substances used in quantities exceeding 1 metric ton per annum